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New York City Ballet: Carousel, Middle Duet, Moves, La Sonnambula
-Onstage with the Dancers

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New York City Ballet
(NYC Ballet Website)
Four Voices

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children's Ballet Master, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Fayçal Karoui
Communications, Managing Director, Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns
Manager, Press Relations, Joe Guttridge
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center
www.lincolncenter.org


Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
May 25, 2007
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com



Carousel (A Dance) (2002):Music by Richard Rodgers, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Arranged and Orchestrated by William David Brohn, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor, Maurice Kaplow, Performed by Kathryn Morgan, Seth Orza, Amanda Hankes, Craig Hall, Ashley Laracey, Jonathan Stafford, and the Company.

Every time I see this ballet, nuances unfold in choreography and ambiance. This breezy ballet about new romance is best served with this cast, as the chemistry between Seth Orza and Kathryn Morgan has been perfected with practice, and their timing and mutual attention is apparent to the audience. Mr. Orza exudes intensity and passion, while Ms. Morgan exudes ingénue innocence. The ballet opens in silence, to draw the viewer in, to the evening carousel. The use of dancers to form the carousel, holding glowing poles, is captivating, and, among the soloists, Amanda Hankes and Craig Hall resonated with rapture. Among the corps, Devin Alberda and Allen Peiffer danced with notable exuberance. This is a fresh, authentic ballet. Christopher Wheeldon has served his position of Resident Choreographer well.


Middle Duet (2006): Music by Yuri Khanon, Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Albert Evans, Rebecca Krohn, Amar Ramasar, Adrian Danchig-Waring, and Jonathan Stafford.

This all-too-brief ballet should be seen more often. Mr. Ratmansky, who participated in last year's Diamond Project, created this piece in 1998, while it premiered at City Ballet in 2006. Maria Kowroski and Albert Evans were coached directly by Mr. Ratmansky in the work, and their performance was scintillating and synchronized. The movement happens fast, with repetitive leg and knee turns, evocative of the ballroom genre. Mr. Evans and Ms. Kowroski shift leads, in close contact, with Holly Hynes' signature severe costumes. White/black angels, like life and death, stand still at the sides (Adrian Danchig-Waring and Jonathan Stafford), before Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar replace the two fallen leads, center stage. Mr. Evans has vivacious versatility, radiating energy and electricity, as he and Ms. Kowroski add hand percussive sound as they slap their own knees and legs. Ms. Kowroski is a dancer's dancer, and her partnership with Mr. Evans is building to notoriety. Yuri Khanon composed the dissonant score.


Moves: A Ballet in Silence (1984): Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Teresa Reichlen, Andrew Veyette, Rachel Rutherford, Craig Hall, Antonio Carmena, Adam Hendrickson, Jonathan Stafford, Amar Ramasar, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Savannah Lowery, Georgina Pazcoguin, and Amanda Hankes.

As some ballets, such as the above, are must-see-again, Moves is a must-not-see-again ballet. Music drives the emotion and tenor of dance, and periods of silence can be enhancements to mood and moment. But, an entire ballet, set to absolute silence, seems to invite restlessness (as well as the inevitable, audience-created, cell-phone ring). For five, seemingly eternal segments, soloists and corps, in rehearsal leotards, perform together choreographically, incredibly well, given the lack of rhythmic or instrumental cues, in an effort to "sever that guidance and permit the audience to respond solely to the action of the dance". It was a fascinating experience for one-time-only. I would not look forward to sitting through this again.

Robbins is the quintessential choreographer, and Moves includes quintessential choreographic design. The leg-slapping motif returned here for occasional, audible rhythm. The walks to and from the audience were dramatic, and particularly interesting imagery was enhanced by Teresa Reichlen, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Amar Ramasar, and Craig Hall. The dancers made the best of an extraordinary challenge.


La Sonnambula (1960): Music by Vittorio Rieti (after themes of Bellini), Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery and Costumes by Alain Vaes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Performed by Jennie Somogyi as The Coquette, Amar Ramasar as The Baron, Nikolaj Hübbe as The Poet, Wendy Whelan as The Sleepwalker, Daniel Ulbricht as Harlequin, and the Company, led by Likolani Brown, Rachel Piskin, Devin Alberda, Troy Schumacher, Alina Dronova, and Vincent Paradiso.

Rieti's music is based on themes from Bellini's operas, including "La Sonnambula". The Coquette's encircling movements, the Moorish dance, and the Harlequin dance all help to create a sinister effect to this ballet. Rieti was born in Egypt and composed for Ballets Russes. In the US, Rieti collaborated with Balanchine on ballets for several companies, including ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and NYC Ballet. (NYCB Notes).


La Sonnambula is one of my favorite Balanchine ballets. Nikolaj Hübbe, the impassioned poet, has internalized this long-time role, while Wendy Whelan, as the ethereal sleepwalker, Jennie Somogyi, as the mischievous Coquette, Amar Ramasar, as the vengeful Baron, and Daniel Ulbricht, as the aerobic Harlequin, are all mesmerizing and theatrical in the dramatic one-act work. Alain Vaes' scenery and costumes are plush and classical, as the Baron entertains his guests, while the poet seduces The Coquette and then the sleepwalking wife of the Baron. The Baron exacts vengeance, and the lifeless body of the poet is carried off by the thin, taut Wendy Whelan, with no visible effort.

The party's Harlequin, Mr. Ulbricht, danced as his hormonal self, wild with total abandon, and the Pas de Deux, performed by Alina Dronova and Vincent Paradiso, added spontaneity to the formal ambiance. Mr. Ramasar was suitably authentic as the jealous Host, and Ms. Somogyi was suitably self-serving yet vulnerable as the quickly rejected object of the poet's desire. Mr. Hübbe, the desirous poet, was superb, shifting his attention from Coquette to Sleepwalker, before his tragic demise. I would love to see photos of the original 1946 Ballet Russe production.


Kathryn Morgan and Seth Orza in "Carousel (A Dance)"

Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik


Maria Kowroski and Albert Evans in "Middle Duet"

Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

 

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