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New York City Ballet: Friandises, Slice to Sharp, Vienna Waltzes
-Onstage with the Dancers

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New York City Ballet

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children's Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Andrea Quinn
Managing Director, Marketing and Communications, Robert Daniels
Associate Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns
Press Coordinator, Joe Guttridge

New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 20, 2006
Originally Published on

The Diamond Project: The Diamond Project is the sixth such festival of new works, with seven choreographers, from unique international backgrounds, presenting new ballets. Tonight's program features a new work by Jorma Elo, Resident Choreographer of the Boston Ballet.

Friandises (2006): Commissioned Music by Christopher Rouse, Choreography by Peter Martins, Leotards by Yumiko, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrea Quinn, Performed by Tyler Peck, Daniel Ulbricht, and the Company. "Friandises" in French means morsels or bits. The French dance suite includes an "Intrada", a "siciliane", a "sarabande", and a "gallop". (NYCB Notes).

On third viewing, Friandises remained radiant, with Daniel Ulbricht and Tiler Peck even more relaxed in this fairly new and bravura work. Rouse's music seemed less atonal and more classical, as the score shifts style and tone seamlessly with Mr. Martins' ever-changing choreography. These contrasts are clever and add interest to the dynamic concept. The strings were especially resonant, in the accompaniment of astounding aerobics. Andrea Quinn conducted one of her final City Ballet performances here, and she kept the orchestral momentum charged and charismatic.

Slice to Sharp (2006): Music by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber and Antonio Vivaldi, Choreography by Jorma Elo, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: David Briskin, Violin Soloists: Kurt Nikkanen and Michael Roth, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Ana Sophia Scheller, Sofiane Sylve, Wendy Whelan, Joaquin De Luz, Craig Hall, Edwaard Liang, and Amar Ramasar. Jorma Elo was born in Finland, and, in addition to choreography, he designs costumes, lighting, and video effects for ballets. Von Biber is known for virtuoso violin works, with special tunings to create chordal effects.(NYCB Notes).

As the final work to be presented in this season's Diamond Project, Jorma Elo's Slice to Sharp was one of my favorites. Kurt Nikkanen and Michael Roth shared the duo violin spotlight, generating some very exuberant sound, under David Briskin's focused conducting. With the likes of Joaquin De Luz and Amar Ramasar in tornado motion, with the ensemble in windmill-like arm circles, and with the likes of Wendy Whelan, Sofiane Sylve, Ana Sophia Scheller, and Maria Kowroski being lifted and carried about by four muscular dynamos - Mr. De Luz, Mr. Ramasar, Craig Hall, and Edwaard Liang, Slice to Sharp was almost too much to absorb on one viewing.

The von Biber and Vivaldi score added a refined classicism to this very contemporary creation. It was a pleasure to be so well entertained so late in the Project. Kudos to Jorma Elo.

Vienna Waltzes (1977): Music by Johann Strauss/Franz Lehár/Richard Strauss, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Performed by Pascale van Kipnis, Jason Fowler, Miranda Weese, Joaquin De Luz, Carrie Lee Riggins, Tom Gold, Jenifer Ringer, Nilas Martins, Darci Kistler, Charles Askegard, and the Company. These costumes are the last that Karinska had created for NYC Ballet. She had designed costumes for much of the 20th Century, for ballet, Broadway, and opera, having fled Russia, and she collaborated with Balanchine as City Ballet's principal costume-maker. (NYCB Notes).

The Company was in rare form in this most incandescent and radiant ballet, a Balanchine masterpiece. This three-part waltz, in woodland forest, in dim ballroom, and against a black-white mirrored backdrop, is almost like three unique ballets, each with its own series of orchestrated waltzes. Balanchine was a wizard to have imagined such dramatic visual development within the J. Strauss/Lehar/R. Strauss score. Rouben Ter-Arutunian's scenery is worthy of a grand award. Pascale van Kipnis and Jason Fowler led the rapturous, first woodland scene, with Miranda Weese and Joaquin De Luz leading the second with joyful explosion. Carrie Lee Riggins and Tom Gold led the polkas, with Jenifer Ringer and Nilas Martins leading a ballroom scene. Darci Kistler and Charles Askegard appeared with the previous leads in Richard Strauss' waltzes for the mirrored black-white ball.

Kudos to Karinska, kudos to Rouben Ter-Arutunian, and kudos to George Balanchine.

Maria Kowroski and Craig Hall in New York City Ballet's Slice to Sharp
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at