New York City Ballet
Spring Gala 2009
Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief: Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress: Rosemary Dunleavy
Assistant to the Ballet Master in Chief: Sean Lavery
Children’s Ballet Master: Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director: Fayçal Karoui
Chairman of the Board: John L. Vogelstein
Managing Dir. Communications and Special Projects: 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
May 13, 2009
(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).
Conductor: Fayçal Karoui
Quasi Una Fantasia (World Premiere): Music by Henryk Górecki, Choreography by Benjamin Millepied, Costumes by Mark Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Sébastien Marcovici, Janie Taylor, Jared Angle, and the Company. For a Spring Gala, tonight’s choices of premieres seemed somber and more suited to individual weeknight debuts. It was not until the end of this program, in the Balanchine, that any joy abounded, except in the costume-design film.
This Millepied work exudes quietude and gloom. Górecki’s score is mournful and repetitive, making one wish for bit of Philip Glass’ bounce in its slow, sinking cadences. A red light across the backdrop seemed strangely eerie, before the colors and tones merge and shift. So too do the dancers merge and shift, and I noted some references to Balanchine-esque patterns. Rebecca Krohn and Sébastien Marcovici travel in lyrical lifts, as do Janie Taylor and Jared Angle. But, Ms. Taylor and Ms. Krohn are given some morose gestures that pre-determine the mood.
Toccata (World Premiere): Music by Otto Bubeníček, Choreography by Jiri Bubeníček, Costumes by Otto Bubeníček, Supervised by Mark Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Pianos: Elaine Chelton and Susan Walters, Viola: Maureen Gallagher, Cello: Fred Zlotkin, Performed by Abi Stafford, Georgina Pazcoguin, Brittany Pollack, Robert Fairchild, Craig Hall, David Prottas, and Andrew Scordato. Again, this work was filled with impending sadness, the music echoing in atonality. However, visually it had some engaging qualities. The onstage musical ensemble appears in the blackness of stage rear, two pianists, a violist, a cellist, high on a behind the scrim landing. Now musicians and dancers perform in the gestalt of the Bubeníček twin brothers’ invention. Otto has created music and costumes, while Jiri has created the choreography.
Although the Gala had yet to glitter, I actually became riveted to what was unfolding, and the connections and separations of the ensemble were evocative of modern dance genre, in the casualness of the gestures. Also, seeing the musicians added to the cohesiveness of the work. Of the seven dancers, Georgina Pazcoguin, Craig Hall, and Robert Fairchild seemed most outstanding in captivating the mood.
Theme and Variations: Recreating a Tutu’s Splendor: Directed by Galen Summer, Summertime Films, Produced by Kristin Sloan, New York City Ballet. This documentary film about the recreation of the costumes for Theme and Variations was a true highlight of the evening and should be a model for such informative films to be included regularly during the Season. I loved listening to Marc Happel teach us about the costume-design process, and the clips with dancers, being fitted and measured, were quite entertaining. This was a rare and fascinating look into City Ballet’s backstage, a busy venue of crystals, thread, silk, ruffles, velvet, buttons, and very talented tailors and seamstresses. Hopefully this film will be shown again, along with others that showcase costumes and their creators.
Theme and Variations (1960): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky (Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3), Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery and Costumes by Nicolas Benois, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Megan Fairchild, Joaquin De Luz, and the Company. In 1947, Balanchine produced "Theme and Variations" for Ballet Theater. Tschaikovsky composed Suite No. 3 in 1884, and it was premiered in 1885. Nicolas Benois, son of Diaghilev's ballet designer, created scenery and costumes for Balanchine. (NYCB Notes). And now, finally, the balletic mood lifted with this glorious Balanchine oeuvre that was all the more glorious with the newly recreated costumes, just shown on film. Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz have never danced better in partnered virtuosity. The change in the Theater’s emotional air was palpable, with a collective sigh. Ms. Fairchild and Mr. De Luz glowed from within.
The Corps, as well, seemed to explode with enthusiasm and aplomb, perhaps in part by wearing these brand new sumptuous, beaded tutus. Everything about this work is high energy, and the Pas de Deux was grand, giving the audience a chance to vocalize some accolades. In the Corps, Gwyneth Muller, Vincent Paradiso, Georgina Pazcoguin, Devin Alberda, and Giovanni Villalobos caught my eye. Joaquin De Luz is a City Ballet treasure, and every soaring leap or dizzying spin is clean, crisp, and charming, with arms outstretched to the audience at the final beat. Ms. Fairchild, in his presence, seems more mature, more poised, more interesting. Kudos to both Mr. De Luz and Ms. Fairchild, and kudos to Marc Happel for the stunning new tutus.