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New York City Ballet: Allegro Brillante, Opus 19/The Dreamer, Swan Lake
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New York City Ballet: Allegro Brillante, Opus 19/The Dreamer, Swan Lake

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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
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 28, 2009

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Maurice Kaplow

Allegro Brillante (1956): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano Solo: Nancy McDill, Performed by Tiler Peck, Amar Ramasar, and the Company. The Tschaikovsky “Third Piano Concerto" was first written as a symphony and then altered to include piano and orchestra. Balanchine said that this ballet "contains everything I know about the classical ballet in 13 minutes". (NYCB Notes).

Amar Ramasar is truly in fine form here partnering Tiler Peck, in a not-seen-often-enough Balanchine ballet, Allegro Brillante. The most fascinating feature of this work is the opening curtain, with eight corps dancers in partnered choreography, already in progress. As the ensemble’s turns and kicks wind down, as if we have happened onto a private party, Mr. Ramasar and Ms. Peck present joyful exuberance, purposeful poise, and determined balance in their pas de deux. Mr. Ramasar also partners Faye Arthurs, Lauren King, Rebecca Krohn, and Ashley Laracey. Tschaikovsky’s third piano concerto had been a symphony, but the composer re-crafted “the first movement into a concert piece for piano and orchestra” (NYCB Notes). This score is rapturous and glowing, and lines of performers fashion ornamented shapes that rivet the eye. Ms. Peck explodes with energy, and Mr. Ramasar is well matched to her physicality.

Opus 19/The Dreamer (1979): Music by Serge Prokofiev, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Violin Solo: Arturo Delmoni, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Gonzalo Garcia, and members of the Corps. Arturo Delmoni’s violin solos were searing and evocative of Prokofiev's ballets, e.g., Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella. I have reviewed this work twice before, and always find the music surreal, with Robbins’ choreography even more surreal.

Mr. Garcia danced like a human helicopter in a white leotard, arms and legs spinning in place, sometimes in mid-air. Mr. Garcia and Wendy Whelan wove through the Corps, which was dressed in Mr. Benson's flowing blues. At times, Mr. Garcia gazed upon Ms. Whelan with hypnotic angst, but I recalled a 2003 performance of this work that featured a deeper, more textured interpretation by Peter Boal. Mr. Delmoni’s violin created whispering sensations for partnering and propulsion for Mr. Garcia’s leaps and landings. The most memorable moment was the final phrase, as Mr. Garcia and Ms. Whelan sculpted a human configuration, held in time as the curtain fell.

Swan Lake (1951): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, after Lev Ivanov, Scenery and Costumes by Alain Vaes, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Maria Kowroski as Odette, Queen of the Swans, Philip Neal as Prince Siegfried, Dena Abergel as Lead for Pas de Neuf, Ellen Bar as Lead for Valse Bluette, Henry Seth as Von Rothbart, a Sorcerer, and the Company as Swans and Hunters. Balanchine based this one-act ballet on Lev Ivanov’s Act II of Swan Lake, using segments of Tschaikovsky’s score for Acts II and IV, both lakeside scenes. I’d never seen this one-act version before, and it was so gripping, I could not even take notes.

To see the Corps in black swan costumes, on its own, is a shock to the system for a Swan Lake devotee, and to experience new choreography to familiar phrases, a solo here where there was an ensemble there, so to speak, is actually more than refreshing. Maria Kowroski is one of City Ballet’s finest theatrical performers, and her stage presence, as the vulnerable and melodramatic Odette, offers opportunities for her long limbs and endless arms to draw us, and her Prince, into her space. Philip Neal, as Siegfried, does not dance with theatricality, but, rather, self-absorption. Yet, his partnering is flawless, as always, and his timing tight. Physically, Mr. Neal and Ms. Kowroski are well matched, but psychically, there’s little connection. Dena Abergel and Ellen Bar, as leads for “Pas de Neuf” and “Valse Bluette”, magnified the moments with grace and ardor. Henry Seth, as Von Rothbart, exuded demonic fervor, true to the role. The Corps was enchanted and engaging, and every phrase of this rare one-act Swan Lake was too fleeting. I long to see it again soon. Kudos to George Balanchine.

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