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New York City Ballet: 2 & 3 Part Inventions, A Suite of Dances, In Memory of..., I'm Old Fashioned
-Onstage with the Dancers

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New York City Ballet
(NYC Ballet Website)
Jerome Robbins: An American Icon

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, Fayçal Karoui
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New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
January 20, 2007
Originally Published on

Conductor: Maurice Kaplow

2 & 3 Part Inventions (1995): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Pianist: Nancy McGill, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Tyler Angle, Sterling Hyltin, Jonathan Stafford, Tiler Peck, Amar Ramasar, Ana Sophia Scheller, and Seth Orza.

If Jerome Robbins' name were not on this work, and this were not City Ballet, one could assume that the dances were improvisational. They were quick, like lightning, and each unique, as were today's dancers. In fact, Amar Ramasar was especially enthused (he has always been a dancer to watch), and Sterling Hyltin (eloquent and flawless) and Tiler Peck (humorous and playful) are rambunctious sprites that bolt across the stage with ginseng-like energy in extended solos. Pianist, Nancy McDill kept perfect pace with this most difficult score, watching carefully as each dancer entered in solos and pas de deux. The blue and white leotards kept the attention on the choreography and footwork, as simplicity turned stylistic. Something about this piece was reminiscent of Paul Taylor's joyful repertoire.

A Suite of Dances (1994): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach (from Suites for Solo Cello), Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Cellist: Ann Kim, Dancer: Damian Woetzel. Damian Woetzel never ceases to amaze, year after year, and this Robbins work was the perfect bookend to the previous one, also scored to Bach, and also exuding an improvisational, carefree mood. Ann Kim, on cello, increasingly interacted with Mr. Woetzel with subtlety and sophistication, as her solo cello soared with scintillating clarity. At times Mr. Woetzel was turned inward, and later he was clearly turned outward, spinning, cart-wheeling, lunging, and leaping.

In Memory of...(1985): Music by Alban Berg, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes by Dain Marcus, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Solo Violinist: Kurt Nikkanen, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Charles Askegard, Seth Orza, and the Company. Berg's violin concerto was written in tribute to the late daughter of a friend, "dedicated to an angel". The music is divided into three sections, depicting her life, her illness, and her "transfiguration".(NYCB Notes).

Wendy Whelan, who internalizes each and every role, danced this lyrical, quasi-mournful work with intensity and abandon. She was nurtured by her partner, Seth Orza, and aware of the threatening figure of Charles Askegard, seemingly a figure of death. Ms. Whelan did not overplay the vulnerability, but rather demonstrated the courageous qualities of her character with searing emotional imagery. Her legs seemed to fly offstage, carried on Mr. Askegard's shoulders. Alban Berg's angst-ridden score was beautifully highlighted by Kurt Nikkanen on violin.

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 Rebecca Krohn, Maria Kowroski, Jenifer Ringer, Tyler Angle, Philip Neal, Stephen Hanna, and the Company. Film sequence from You Were Never Lovelier, starring Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth.

Every time I see this ballet I promise myself to rent the film. This has to be one of Robbins' most brilliant conceptions. With the backdrop of the actual film appearing and re-appearing, as the dancers take on the specific steps and turns, it's art replicating art. Dain Marcus' long ruffled dresses have a sheen and satiny elegance that grabs the imagination and literally makes you want to dance, just like Rebecca Krohn, Maria Kowroski, and Jenifer Ringer. Their partners, especially Stephen Hanna, also captured the imagination, although there's only one Astaire. The Gould (after Kern) music flows in feathery fashion, and one can only think of tuxedoes and champagne, à la 1942 (when the film debuted).

The Company stood backs to the audience, waving to Fred and Rita, as they walked through the French doors, and Ronald Bates' lighting effects were dramatic and dynamic. Kudos to Jerome Robbins.

Wendy Whelan and Charles Askegard in NYCB's In Memory Of...

Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik


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