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New York City Ballet: Klavier, In Memory Of..., Western Symphony
-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 24, 2006

Originally Published on

Klavier (2006): Music by Ludwig van Beethoven (Adagio Sostenuto from the Hammerklavier Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, Op. 106), Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Design by Jean-Marc Puissant, Costumes Supervised by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Penny Jacobus, Piano: Susan Walters, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Sébastien Marcovici, Miranda Weese, Albert Evans, Abi Stafford, Tyler Angle, Craig Hall, Melissa Barak, Sean Suozzi, and Andrew Veyette. Christopher Wheeldon has choreographed for NYC Ballet, the Royal Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and Boston Ballet. Mr. Wheeldon danced in the corps and then as soloist for NYC Ballet from 1993 to 2000, when he retired to work full-time on choreography. He has choreographed numerous ballets for NYC Ballet, most recently, "After the Rain" and "An American in Paris". (NYCB Notes).

Wheeldon's stark and stunning masterpiece, with its transparent black costumes (with jeweled faux ties or bustiers) in teal or mauve, is one of his most fascinating works to date, and there is quite a collection of fascinating works from which to choose (including this season's debut of Evenfall. With Susan Walters on solo piano, in an intense performance of the Adagio Sostenuto from Beethoven's Hammerklavier Piano Sonata in B- flat Major, Wendy Whelan and Sébastien Marcovici, with Miranda Weese and Albert Evans, plus two trios of soloists and corps dancers, walked toward stage rear or stage front, amidst choreography in symmetrical mystery. A crashed chandelier hangs low on stage right, at the end of a spider web of golden chains, and this dark dance is mesmerizing.

The Beethoven score is soft and introspective, and these seasoned dancers (same leads as on last viewing) wove about each other in magical momentum. Jean-Marc Puissant's design lends itself to Penny Jacobus' candlelit glow, and each duo, trio, or full ensemble internalizes the moody milieu. Kudos to Christopher Wheeldon.

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 Miranda Weese, Charles Askegard, Jason Fowler, 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).

Miranda Weese returned from her tour de force performance in the previous work in exceptional form. In ingénue pink, Ms. Weese danced in ethereal elegance as the tragic heroine in Jerome Robbins' In Memory Of.... This lyrical ballet, with Alban Berg's angst-ridden score that mourns the death of his friend's young daughter, brought Ms. Weese, Charles Askegard (who partnered Wendy Whelan on last viewing), and Jason Fowler (in the role previously danced by Seth Orza) into a developmental re-telling of the victim's portrait, illness, death, and "transfiguration". Berg has, according to NYC Ballet notes, hidden autobiographical notes within the music. Kurt Nikkanen presented the solo violin passages with requisite angst. Maurice Kaplow kept the dissonance smooth and seamless, as the Company and leads visually unfolded this sad story. Kudos to Jerome Robbins.

Western Symphony (1954): Music by Hershy Kay, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by John Boyt, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor, Andrea Quinn, Performed by Jennie Somogyi, Nilas Martins, Sterling Hyltin, Albert Evans, Sara Mearns, Nikolaj Hübbe, and the Company. Some of the American folk songs in this ballet are "Red River Valley", "Good Night Ladies", and "Rye Whiskey". (NYCB Notes).

For my final NYC Ballet of the Season, I was delighted to see Andrea Quinn conducting one last time. I wish her the best. She has a brightness and brilliance in her conducting that cannot be replicated. Three new leads were onstage tonight: Sterling Hyltin, Albert Evans, and Nikolaj Hübbe. In the Allegro movement, Jennie Somogyi and Nilas Martins were entertaining and effervescent. Mr. Martins exudes charm beyond description. Both leads, and their energetic ensemble, lit up the stage. Sterling Hyltin is a dancer to watch and to gaze upon, as she is one bucking bronco, with or without a western motif. Albert Evans is one of the few male leads who seem natural in partnering such a sensational soloist, and he, in his own right, is one muscular premier danseur. Nikolaj Hübbe took Charles Askegard's role, from the previous viewing, and his chiseled figure is always magnetic. Sara Mearns and Mr. Hübbe danced in splendid style, and the Company brought the Wild West to New York's State Theater with pizzazz.

The showgirls, cowboys, cowgirls, and more, were in rare form at today's matinee. Kudos and best wishes to Andrea Quinn.

Miranda Weese with Jason Fowler and Charles Askegard in New York City Ballet's In Memory Of...
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Wendy Whelan and Sébastien Marcovici in New York City Ballet's Klavier
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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