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New York City Ballet: Four Voices

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New York City Ballet: Four Voices
(NYC Ballet Website)

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, Fayçal Karoui
Honorary Chairmen: Julia and David Koch
Managing Director, Communications, Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Joe Guttridge
Assoc., Communications and Special Projects, Caitlin Gillette
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 18, 2009

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Maurice Kaplow

Chiaroscuro "The Play of Light and Shadow" (1994): Music by Francesco Geminiani, Edited by Walter Kolneder, after Arcangelo Corelli's Op. 5, No. 12 (Concerto Grosso, La Follia), Choreography by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Artwork by Michael Zansky, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Sébastien Marcovici, Janie Taylor, Faye Arthurs, Jennie Somogyi, Daniel Ulbricht, and Andrew Veyette. Ms. Taylor-Corbett originally called this highly charged work a tribute to Jock Soto, who retired in 2005 in an impassioned Farewell. I could not help missing him, throughout this iconic work.

The ballet is a play on light and shadow, plus fast/slow movements between Sébastien Marcovici, three women, and two men. Geminiani was known for his contrapuntal technique and virtuosic compositions; as a result, this score propels the dancers, in defiance of gravity. Mr. Marcovici, Daniel Ulbricht, and Andrew Veyette form figures that shift weight and balance, with Mr. Ulbricht even leaping into Mr. Marcovici’s arms. A series of interlocking and inter-connecting figures emerge with tension and technicality. Michael Zansky’s artwork glows, thanks to Mark Stanley’s focused lighting design, and the dancers glow, as well. Of the three female dancers, Janie Taylor, Jennie Somogyi, and Faye Arthurs, Janie Taylor was the most mesmerizing, as she has the skill to draw the audience’s eye, whenever she is onstage. Ms. Taylor is the quintessential City Ballet principal, who can shape herself physically and psychically within every genre. Holly Hynes’ grey-black jersey leotards do not distract from the powerful momentum of Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s choreography. It should be mentioned that Andrew Veyette has come into his own as a virtuosic male principal, replete with catapulting leaps, dizzy spins, and sensational speed. Between Mr. Ulbricht and Mr. Veyette, Chiaroscuro grabbed the audience as the first work of the “Four Voices” program. Mr. Marcovici mastered the muscular imagery, but I would also like to see this work with Craig Hall or Amar Ramasar in Jock Soto’s original lead.

Papillons (1994): Music by Robert Schumann (Papillons, Op. 2), Choreography by Peter Martins, Pianist: Cameron Grant, Performed by Darci Kistler, Jared Angle, Megan Fairchild, and Tyler Angle. This lesser known work by Peter Martins, not seen since its premiere in 1994, is lyrical and lovely, set to Schumann’s 1831 Papillons. The ambiance and choreography are in keeping with the sweeping score, and Darci Kistler looked radiant throughout. The chiffon tutus, worn by Ms. Kistler and Megan Fairchild, flowed like butterflies (the ballet’s translation), and the Angle brothers, Jared and Tyler, were attentive partners, lifting their ladies in flying motif. It’s important to revive such works, so the City Ballet audience can see the full repertoire, over the years. Mr. Martins keeps his designs uncluttered and rapturous, and Papillons is no exception. Ms. Fairchild needs to express herself in dance, as her face lacked emotion, but her technical imagery was inspired. Cameron Grant, pianist, kept the music sumptuous.

Concerto DSCH (2008): Music by Dmitri Shostakovich (Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op.102), Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Susan Walters, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Ana Sophia Scheller, Benjamin Millepied, Joaquin De Luz, Gonzalo Garcia, Faye Arthurs, Craig Hall, Alina Dronova, Amar Ramasar, Rebecca Krohn, Christian Tworzyanski, Likolani Brown, Lauren King, Sean Suozzi, Ellen Ostrom, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Adam Hendrickson, Stephanie Zungre, and Antonio Carmena.

This recent Ratmansky work, which premiered last year to numerous accolades, is even more exciting this season. The Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 2 propels the dancers through fluid, seamless, explosive choreography in a blaze of sound, color, and kaleidoscopic imagery. Mr. Ratmansky, formerly of the Bolshoi, brings his very Russian turf to this ebullient work. Mood, tempo, rhythm, and visuals shift, but always seamlessly, no pregnant pauses, no reflective moments. I noted on my program that Joaquin De Luz seemed to infuse his colleague from Spain, Gonzalo Garcia, with extra strength and drive. They worked off each other’s energy with enthusiasm and charisma. Wendy Whelan and Benjamin Millepied presented finely textured patterns with poignancy and persuasion. The other lead dancer, Ana Sophia Scheller, has become stronger and more poised this season and should grow in dramatic presence with time. When it comes to drama and presence, none in this cast could supersede Mr. De Luz, always arresting, a dancer’s dancer. Of the remaining male cast, Craig Hall, Amar Ramasar, and Adrian Danchig-Waring caught my eye. Among the female cast, Rebecca Krohn was compelling (This is the dancer who graces the NYC Ballet posters about town.).

Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (1966): Music by Johannes Brahms (First Piano Quartet in G minor, Op.25), Orchestrated by Arnold Schoenberg, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Abi Stafford, Philip Neal, Jenifer Ringer, Jared Angle, Yvonne Borree, Andrew Veyette, Maria Kowroski, Charles Askegard, and the Company. The milieu significantly shifted for this final work, with elegant palace curtains (that change in shape and lighting with each movement) and pink, stiff tutus. Brahms’ First Piano Quartet in G minor, orchestrated by Arnold Schoenberg, has four movements. Abi Stafford and Philip Neal led the “Allegro”, with Savannah Lowery in a solo role. Ms. Stafford is petite and perky, a mismatched partner for the lanky Mr. Neal, but they met the challenge with aplomb, with Mr. Neal spinning her about and in place. The “Intermezzo” was led by Jenifer Ringer and Jared Angle, and this pas de deux was soothing and sentimental.

The “Andante”, led by Yvonne Borree and Andrew Veyette, was impressively fluid and well-partnered, and the “Rondo alla Zingarese”, led by Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard, was playful and unsuppressed. Balanchine’s choreography here is enchanted, replete with princely partnering and romantic innuendo. Schoenberg orchestrated Brahms’ 1861 Quartet in 1937, with Viennese flair. Balanchine imbued this ballet with equal flair and confectionary flourish.

Kudos to Maurice Kaplow, today’s matinee Maestro, for transporting City Ballet Orchestra vibrantly through the program’s Four Voices.

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