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New York City Ballet: In G Major, Dances at a Gathering, I'm Old Fashioned
-Onstage with the Dancers

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New York City Ballet
(NYC Ballet Website)
Essential Robbins

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 31, 2007
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com

In G Major (1975): Music by Maurice Ravel, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Scenery and Costumes by Erté, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Pianist: Elaine Chelton, Conductor: Fayçal Karoui, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Philip Neal, and the Company.

There is nothing quite like listening to Ravel, looking at a fancifully painted ocean, and watching City Ballet dancers in Erté bathing suit motif costumes. Maria Kowroski and Philip Neal took turns with the corps ensemble of 12 in jazzy dance phrases, upbeat and straight-legged. This was no soft ethereal work, but, rather, Robbins at his finest, in fact the first of three Robbins works, all contrasting and all characteristic of this master's genius. The men's wavy-lined pastel leotards and the female's pastel adornments were a preview to the light-hearted choreography, first driven by solo piano (expressively played by Elaine Chelton) and then driven by piano and full orchestra. The pas de deux included walking and dancing in tandem, like a day on the shore, and the ensemble dance included jumps and leaps like a crowd on sand and in water.


Dances at a Gathering (1969): Music by Frédéric Chopin, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Joe Eula, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Pianist: Susan Walters, Conductor: Fayçal Karoui, Performed by Megan Fairchild, Sara Mearns, Jenifer Ringer, Rachel Rutherford, Abi Stafford, Jared Angle, Adam Hendrickson, Benjamin Millepied, Amar Ramasar, and Jonathan Stafford.

On first viewing of this Robbins rarity, I was amazed at the uncluttered simplicity, yet textured nuance of his choreography. Susan Walters, on solo piano, kept a keen eye onstage, as numerous piano pieces by Chopin accompanied solo, duo, and ensemble turns. Jared Angle, in purple, was a fine, lyrical lead, as was Benjamin Millepied, in brown (each of the 10 dancers assumes one color in Joe Eula's bucolic costumes). Dancers were turned upside down and sideways, lifted, carried, tossed, and spun. Adam Hendrickson, in brick, caught my attention with some fast moving motion, and Amar Ramasar, in green, exuded casual authenticity, almost immersed in thought. Yet, when he partnered Sara Mearns, there was a genuine connection, as they repetitively shifted in space. Megan Fairchild, in yellow, inhabited her rambunctious role with abandon, and Jenifer Ringer, in pink, was engaging and flirtatious. Abi Stafford, in blue, and Rachel Rutherford, in mauve, added grace and spirit to the dance, while Jonathan Stafford showed skill as a recently promoted principal.

There were under-arm turns, swinging, skipping phrases, and general bounding about, just as would occur at a spring-like gathering, a perfect image for early summer. The blue sky backdrop added to this joyful ambiance. This is truly a must-see-again ballet. Kudos to Jerome Robbins.


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, Conductor: Fayçal Karoui, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Jenifer Ringer, Sara Mearns, Tyler Angle, Jared Angle, Stephen Hanna, and the Company. Film sequence from You Were Never Lovelier, starring Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth.

This enchanting Robbins ballet reveals new connections to the Astaire-Hayworth film clips on each viewing. Tonight's cast included soloists Sara Mearns and Rebecca Krohn, joined by Jenifer Ringer, and the fresh interpretation was inspired. Stephen Hanna was joined by brothers, Jared Angle and Tyler Angle, a novel casting (like siblings Abi Stafford and Jonathan Stafford in the previous work). The film-dance connections unfolded anew, with some smart turns and ballroom motifs, all adding to traditional elegance and hum-able memories. In fact, the film's score, repeated orchestrally by Morton Gould on Jerome Kern's theme, still swirls in my mind. The final dance, all in black, at the front of French doors, is one of Robbins' finest. Kudos to City Ballet for Essential Robbins and all of this season's terrific program themes.

Sara Mearns in NYCB's Dances at a Gathering

Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik


Jenifer Ringer and Jared Angle in NYCB's Dances at a Gathering

Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

 

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