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New York City Ballet - Christopher Wheeldon's Morphoses
-Onstage with the Dancers

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Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children's Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Andrea Quinn

New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
January 10, 2003

In G Major (1975): Music by Maurice Ravel, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Scenery and Costumes by Erté, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Pianist, Cameron Grant, Performed by Kyra Nichols and Philip Neal and the Company, Conducted by Andrea Quinn. Against a backdrop of an ocean scene, reminiscent of André Derain paintings, with flawless technique, Ms. Nichols, who has been a principal with New York City Ballet since 1979, created a lyrical, poetic, and highly stylized image. Her perfect pointe, her balance, and her persona all blended into this superb and energetic tour de force. Ms. Nichols is in amazing shape and has tremendous charisma as a performer. Mr. Neal was adept at his partnering, but did not seem to have the intensity and focus, so inherent in Ms. Nichols' performance.

Ravel's concerto, which contains elements of jazz, was buoyant and bouncy, and Ms. Quinn conducted in a clean, crisp manner. The harp, piano and flute lent a surreal quality to this upbeat score. The Company, in colorfully striped, tank top bathing suits, danced with grace and dynamism.


Ballet: In G Major
Choreography: Jerome Robbins
Dancers: Kyra Nichols and Philip Neal
Photo: Paul Kolnik

Morphoses (2002): Music by György Ligeti, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Holly Hines, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Jock Soto, Wendy Whelan, Damien Woetzel, and Alexandra Ansanelli, Music by Flux Quartet: Tom Chiu and Jesse Mills on Violin, Max Mandel on Viola, and Dave Eggar on Cello. With exquisite lighting, a raised stage allows the audience to watch, not only the dancers, but also the musicians, all of whom seemed to thoroughly enjoy this collaborative venture with the New York City Ballet, creating just the right dynamic with the dancers. Ligeti's String Quartet No. 1, with haunting, dissonant tones, seemed to literally stretch the dancers, not only emotionally, but also physically, with outstretched legs and arms, bent in crustacean formations. Ms. Whelan has a rare ability to create drama with her intense physicality. Mr. Soto, a perfect partner, with stage maturity and magnetic appeal, kept the momentum and seriousness of purpose, in this most serious, but aesthetically appealing piece. Mr. Woetzel and Ms. Ansanelli performed with equal passion and choreographic charisma.

Mr. Wheeldon's choreography equaled the level of emotionality and tension, as music and movement would suddenly stop at jolting ending points, leaving one breathlessly awaiting more. The lighting effects were superbly conceived, with a black backdrop that gave birth to horizontal and iridescent colored lines, appearing and disappearing, as if painting themselves onto the rear stage.


Ballet:Morphoses
Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon
Dancers: Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto
Photo: Paul Kolnik

The Infernal Machine (2002): Music by Christopher Rouse, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Catherine Barinas, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Janie Taylor and Amar Ramasar, Conducted by Andrea Quinn. This brief, but mesmerizing, piece was magnetically danced by a rising star, Mr. Ramasar, who possesses the stage with energy, poise, and a rare magnetic quality. With dark, but stylistic lighting and designs, and with elegantly effective, earthy costumes, Mr. Ramasar and Ms. Taylor, who possesses an equal level of charisma, were technically and emotionally flawless in their bravura performance. Because of the layers of visual imagery and sensuality, this is a piece that I would like to see at least once more. Kudos to Mr. Rouse for a sensational score.

Symphony in Three Movements (1972): In my January 8, 2003 review, I mentioned my desire to see this piece again. As it turned out, I saw this piece again only two nights later. In this viewing, I noticed, even more, the quintessentially exact choreographic quality, inherent in all Balanchine's work. The geometric patterns, the sideward jumps, the arms reached high, complimenting the arms reached outwards, the black, white, and occasionally pink leotards, keeping the lines and colors clear and concise, but dynamically diverse. I honestly hope to see this piece, yet again, to revisit the layers of choreographic brilliance. After all, this Company was Mr. Balanchine's domain.


Ballet: Symphony in Three Movements
Choreography: George Balanchine
Dancers: Abi Stafford and Kipling Houston in his farewell NYCB performance
Photo by Paul Kolnik
 
 

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net