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New York City Ballet - Interplay, Piano Pieces, I'm Old Fashioned
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(www.nycballet.org)

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

Conductor, Hugo Fiorato

New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
February 12, 2003

Interplay (1952): Music by Morton Gould, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Piano Solo: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Adam Hendrickson (Lead), Aesha Ash, Carla Körbes, Lindy Mandradjieff, Carrie Lee Riggins, Stephen Hanna, Jonathan Stafford, and Daniel Ulbricht. The original title for this music was American Concertette (1945). Gould's Ballet works generally drew on American subject matter. Gould received a Grammy in 1965 for his recording of music by Charles Ives. Gould was a composer, arranger, and conductor and wrote in many genres. He conducted for New York City Ballet at the 1988 American Music Festival. He orchestrated Fall River Legend (Choreographed by the great Agnes de Mille) and Interplay. He also composed for Broadway, television and film. (NYCB Notes).

According to Clarke and Crisp (Ballet,anIllustratedHistory, Universe Books, NY, 1973), Jerome Robbins was an instantaneous hit in the ballet scene, with Fancy Free, choreographed in 1944 for American Ballet Theater. Robbins combined academic dance with contemporary movement, offering a new approach to ballet, very American in feeling. In Interplay, Robbins combined Jazz and popular dance forms with ballet. (Clarke and Crisp).


Tonight I thought I was on Broadway, with an All - Robbins Program. If it were not for the ballet shoes, I may have walked out onto 42nd Street. The coquettish groupings, willowy stances, and Morton Gould's romantic music gave me an early Valentine's Day on the 12th of February. In fact, some of the choreography was reminiscent of the Dancer in Yellow in Contact. Adam Hendrickson is a dancer to watch. He has exact timing, persona, charisma, energy, and lightning spins. He's a one-man advertisement for Ginseng. Mr. Hendrickson has the confidence and capability of a Principal. I loved this production, with the colorful motifs of the costumes, with white socks and black tights for the males, against the blue backdrop.

The high energy of this piece, which built in momentum, with snapping fingers and clapping body language, twists and turns, mid-air, and leaps across the stage, intermittently concluded with coy groupings for sweet encounters. Kudos to Mr. Fiorato for conducting this work so perfectly, as the dancers were at one with the wild percussion and vibrant horns. The audience was all smiles.

Piano Pieces (1981): Piano: Cameron Grant. New to the cast tonight were Antonio Carmena and Seth Orza, replacing Benjamin Millepied and Jared Angle, from the February 2, 2003 cast. On second viewing, I appreciated this piece even more than a week or so earlier. My seat, up front, enabled me to watch Mr. Grant, who has the professionalism of a true concert pianist. He is totally poised and confident, always with the dancers. It is amazing that a solo pianist can be perfectly times to dancers, whom he cannot even see, as he sits behind his Grand Kawai (official Piano of NYCB).

The Russian styled dancers, choreographed as white and red bookends, against a blue backdrop and silver screens, framing the dream-like sequences by pastel styled soloists, were spunky, energetic, and adorable. Their upbeat and cultural dances are in tremendous contrast to the romantic, wanton lovers, who appear in shades of lavender, blue, and green. Ms. Somogyi and Mr. Orza were exquisite as ethereal lovers. They were focused on each other with perfectly timed partnering. Ms. Kowroski and Mr. Hanna, as well as Ms. Ansanelli and Mr. Marcovici, are to be equally commended for their effortless and highly stylized technicality.

What tied these folk and classic ballet groupings together was the Russian flavor of the Mazurka, Troika, Polka, and classic Russian-styled romantic ballet, which was, at first, passionate, and then playful and dreamlike. I would not mind seeing/hearing this ballet a third time, just for the musicality and for Mr. Grant's superb solo piano performance.


Ballet: Piano Pieces
Choreographer: Jerome Robbins
Photo by Paul Kolnik

I'm Old Fashioned (1983): Music by Morton Gould (based on music by Jerome Kern), Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Florence Klotz, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Performed by Rachel Rutherford, Arch Higgins, Maria Kowroski, Philip Neal, Jenifer Ringer, Sébastien Marcovici, and the Company. Film sequence from You Were Never Lovelier, starring Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth. What a joy! I literally cannot wait to see this work again. Kudos immediately to Mr. Robbins, for choreographing this piece as a sequence in a film, to Mr. Fiorato, for brilliant conducting, and to Mr. Peter Martins, Ballet Master in Chief, for mounting this extravaganza.

Imagine an enormous screen on stage with a black and white clip of Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth dancing in formal attire, as only they could do, with an elegant backdrop of glass, French doors, and a chandelier. Then, imagine that the dancers of New York City Ballet replicate this scene, in exquisite costumes, like strapless ballroom gowns, men in Ballet-styled tuxedos, and women on pointe, instead of strapped heels. Imagine gowns of brilliant gold and vibrant colors, against a silk backdrop, with tiny lights for chandeliers and enormous French doors and windows. Imagine that the entire Company imitates the exact partnering, in groups of two, in black gowns, this time, against the black on white, filmed backdrop of Astaire and Hayworth. Imagine that the ballet dancers, with backs to the audience, wave goodbye to Fred and Rita, as they dance through their own doorway.

In an elegant duet, Ms. Rutherford (whose tiny, signed, ballet shoes I purchased at intermission, as a Valentine's gift for my little niece) and Mr. Higgins captured the essence of this sometimes-Broadway, sometimes-classic film, sometimes-ballet feeling and genre. Ms. Kowroski has star appeal and presence, and Mr. Neal exhibited excellent virtuosity, in his acrobatic and athletic solo. Ms. Ringer and Mr. Marcovici were focused, with charisma, character, and depth.

Again, I cannot wait to see this production again! In fact, I intend to rent, if possible, this film and other Astaire/Hayworth collaborative films. What a great idea this was from Jerome Robbins. What a night this was, Broadway and film at New York City Ballet.

 

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