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New York City Ballet - Kammermusik No. 2, Ballade, Piano Pieces, Jeu de Cartes
-Onstage with the Dancers

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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

Conductors, Richard Moredock, Hugo Fiorato, and Andrea Quinn

New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
February 2, 2003

Kammermusik No. 2 (1978): Music by Paul Hindemith, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano Solo: Cameron Grant, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Sofiane Sylve, Charles Askegard, Philip Neal, and the Company. This was a matinee performance, conducted by no less than three separate Conductors, a musical rarity in itself. This piece, by Hindemith, is again one that I would like to revisit, for its haunting depth and dissonant, wild piano, expertly conducted by Mr. Moredock. It must also be noted that Cameron Grant is an extremely talented and technically professional pianist, and I plan to inquire into his solo piano schedule. Ms. Sylve was an excellent choice as a Guest Artist for the Season, and she has a graceful and coquettish manner that engages the audience and allows her to shine onstage, as a confident and scintillating Principal. I would still like to see Mr. Neal exude more balance and confidence and focus on his partner. He seems to appear self-conscious and anxious, a vision that hinders the overall quality of the production.

Mr. Askegard and Ms. Kowroski are quintessential experts in eloquence and technicality. The dancers appeared to propel themselves, as if small airplanes, flying in the wind. The men in this production dance to the orchestra, and the soloists dance to the piano, in counterpoint to the ensemble (NYCB Notes). This is why this piece is such a virtuosic feat and a challenge to the most mighty in the NYC Ballet Company.

Ballade (1980): Music by Gabriel Fauré, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano Solo: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Robert Tewsley, and the Company. The music of Fauré has always been among my favorites, so romantic and so ephemeral. Fauré was Ravel's teacher, and his work fuses Romantic and Impressionist styles. (NYCB Notes). Ms. Chelton played this eloquent piece with brilliance, her piano just in thematic precision with the dancers, also thanks to Mr. Fiorato, as conductor. Mr. Tewsley has the charisma and the potential of Nureyev, with his flowing sleeves and European presence (British born). Ms. Whelan, as always, exuded just the right amount of emotionalism with her partnering and passionate encounters. With a vision of beige, pink, (costumes) and lavender (backdrop), Mr. Balanchine offers us an everlasting work, a dreamlike apparition. Ms. Whelan's legs appeared to be dancers in their own right, as they are so expressive and fluid. I felt as though I had chanced on a Fragonard painting of Springtime onstage at the New York State Theater.

Piano Pieces (1981): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Piano: Cameron Grant, Performed by Benjamin Millepied, Jennie Somogyi, Jared Angle, Alexandra Ansanelli, Sébastien Marcovici, Maria Kowroski, Stephen Hanna, and the Company. Mr. Grant handled this entire work with poise and aplomb. Mr. Robbins was brilliant to choose these numerous piano pieces by Tschaikovsky, which are totally Russian in flavor and style. With white costumes and a blue-sky backdrop, the entire cast, including many members of the Corps, presented an upbeat and buoyant display, with a Troika, a Waltz, a Mazurka, a Barcarolle, and a few Polkas. These were dances within a dance, a fusion of Ballroom and Ballet, a production characteristic of a culture and a nation. Kudos to Mr. Cameron and to Jerome Robbins.


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

Jeu de Cartes (1992): Performed today by Janie Taylor, Robert Tewsley, Benjamin Millepied (all again), Nilas Martins (new), and the Company. In this matinee production, Nilas Martins performed in the role that had been seen by Nicolaj Hübbe, who was injured onstage last week. Mr. Martins is fast coming into his own, with qualities of magnetism and effervescence. In fact, he appeared in the original production in 1992. The image of dancers as fast spinning cards, with bright, daring movement and the fun that they exuded onstage, as if we were part of this game, helped me to enjoy this presentation of Jeu de Cartes even more than I did last week. The Stravinsky score grew on me, the jazzy feeling, as the cards are shuffled and reshuffled in Peter Martins' amazing choreography. The energy level of the NYC Ballet constantly amazes my guests and continues to impress me.

 

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