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New York City Ballet: 21st Century Movement
(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
February 17, 2009

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Fayçal Karoui

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, Violin Soloists: Arturo Delmoni and Lydia Hong, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Teresa Reichlen, Ana Sophia Scheller, Wendy Whelan, Joaquin De Luz, Robert Fairchild, Craig Hall, and Ask la Cour. 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).

In celebration of an evening of new choreography, with bodies coiling and uncoiling, in sublime darkness, Jorma Elo creates the element of the unexpected. Partnering includes propulsive lifts and varied styles and tempos. Legs slice through the air in instantaneous gravitational feats, and arms become propellers, winding like windmills of joy. One of Mr. Elo’s most stunning inventions is the way a male partner will drag the female dancer, both feet tightly together, as they disappear into the wings. Whispering phrases turn suddenly wild, and virtuosic magnetism is inherent throughout. Ana Sophia Scheller seemed in her strongest role this season, with maturity and sophistication exuding in her dance. Joaquin De Luz executed full body turns en air, and the remaining cast was dynamic and daring.

Hallelujah Junction (2001): Music by John Adams, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Kirsten Lund Nielsen, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Duo Pianists: Cameron Grant and Richard Moredock, Performed by Janie Taylor, Sébastien Marcovici, Andrew Veyette, Lauren King, Erica Pereira, Brittany Pollack, Stephanie Zungre, Daniel Applebaum, Allen Peiffer, David Prottas, and Troy Schumacher.

Peter Martins’ 2001 choreography and staging are stunning in this work, with Cameron Grant and Richard Moredock at duel pianos behind an upper level black screen. Janie Taylor, elegant and graceful, was an alluring image, while Andrew Veyette exploded with his growing bravura, making John Adams’ keyboard creations come alive. The Adams score builds like Philip Glass’ music, with mesmerizing momentum. Erica Pereira and Allen Peiffer, so wonderful last season in Peter Martins’ Romeo + Juliet, both caught my eye, and I wished for more showcased corps in such works as this. Sébastien Marcovici, an impassioned performer, seemed less riveting than David Prottas and Troy Schumacher. Lund Nielsen’s simple black-white costumes were perfectly designed.

A Simple Symphony (World Premiere): Music by Benjamin Britten, Choreography by Melissa Barak, Costumes by Melissa Barak, Costumes Supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Sara Mearns, Jared Angle, Tiler Peck, Tyler Angle, Ana Sophia Scheller, Sean Suozzi, Sara Adams, Megan Johnson, Rachel Piskin, Kristen Segin, Mary Elizabeth Sell, and Lydia Wellington.

Melissa Barak , a former corps dancer with City Ballet, now with Los Angeles Ballet, has returned to the basics and to the Balanchine genre, with structured retro figures, in pink tutus and purple backdrop. Smooth, sensual curves appear in swirling, but urgent motion. Benjamin Britten’s symphonic score is youthful and buoyant, spiriting Sara Mearns and Jared Angle, in the lead, to sumptuous and romantic imagery. The music, with its melodic depth, adds texture to this predictable, lyrical ballet. Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle seemed enthused in this premiere, while Ana Sophia Scheller and Sean Suozzi shone more subtly, with more restraint. Melissa Barak has a bright future as her choreography develops and ripens.

Mercurial Manoeuvres (2000): Music by Dmitri Shostakovich (Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor), Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Carole Divet, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Cameron Grant, Trumpet: Ray Mase, Performed by Abi Stafford, Tyler Angle, Gonzalo Garcia, Kathryn Morgan, Erica Pereira, and the Company.

With bright brass (Ray Mase on solo trumpet) and animated keyboard (Cameron Grant on solo piano) Shostakovich led Christopher Wheeldon’s upbeat choreography, premiered this decade. Gonzalo Garcia, in fiery red, was balanced, confident, and powerful, leading an ensemble of mostly women, assisted by Tyler Angle, who partnered Abi Stafford. However, Kathryn Morgan and Erica Pereira, both captivating performers with understated style, seemed the stars here, and, among the corps, Gwyneth Muller and David Prottas caught my eye. These four corps dancers have unique personalities, gestures, and profiles that make the viewer yearn to see them in future lead roles, the near future, not distant future. Mr. Wheeldon’s design, with divisions of male and female dancers, is different and compelling. Kudos to Maestro Karoui and City Ballet Orchestra.

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