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New York City Ballet: Glass Pieces, The Cage, Other Dances, The Concert

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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
June 11, 2009

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Clotilde Otranto

Glass Pieces (1983): Music by Philip Glass, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Production Design by Jerome Robbins and Ronald Bates, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Tyler Angle, Ellen Bar, Jason Fowler, Savannah Lowery, Ask la Cour, Maria Kowroski, Philip Neal, and the Company. Tonight’s all-Robbins program began with one of my favorite works, Glass Pieces, with Glass’ music staying in my mind for days, adding to the desire to see it again soon. As always, it was hypnotic and engrossing.

Rubric, with a tiny-squared beige backdrop, brings out the Corps in ever-rushing fast walks, stretches, and turns, while one of three ballet couples at a time, in pale unitards, stops the ensemble in its tracks, to partner in duo elegance. Tonight’s three duos were Rebecca Krohn-Tyler Angle, Ellen Bar-Jason Fowler, and Savannah Lowery-Ask la Cour. Of these six dancers, the most riveting were Ellen Bar, with stunning demeanor and serenity, and Ask la Cour, with engrossing strength and focus. I’d like to see them partnered in the near future. Facades has the female corps walking sideways like Egyptian sculptures in black silhouette against a lit backdrop. Maria Kowroski and Philip Neal, perfectly suited and cast here, are mesmerizing in the pas de deux. Their long limbs glow with fascination, against the small, slow motion silhouettes. Akhnaten, the third movement, includes pulsating percussion, with the male Corps in primal hunched positions, followed by the full Corps in ever-shifting ensembles.

The Cage (1951): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Ruth Sobotka, Décor by Jean Rosenthal, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Janie Taylor as The Novice, Teresa Reichlen as The Queen, Sébastien Marcovici and Adam Hendrickson as The Intruders, and the Company as The Group. A ballet about the female species as predators and the male species as prey. Score is "Concerto in D for String Orchestra, "Basler" (1946). (NYCB Notes).

I chose tonight’s cast specifically to see Janie Taylor and Teresa Reichlen as The Novice and The Queen. These two dancers glow and engage whenever onstage. Also glowing tonight was Clotilde Otranto, Conductor, who brought out new texture and fullness in the Stravinsky score. At first, it seemed surreal to see Ms. Reichlen and Ms. Taylor as female spider-predators, who sexually attack, strangle, and devour their male prey. These two dancers are among the most charismatic, with Ms. Taylor usually rapturous and Ms. Reichlen usually seductive. Tonight they were cunning, ruthless, self-serving. Ms. Taylor was externalized in the horror of her behavior, as if, as The Novice, she had to force herself to adapt to the norm. She arches her back, shivers, has a spine of steel. Ms. Reichlen watched over “The Group” (of female spider-predators) like a tall “Brünnhilde” of their web. She stood over the destroyed Intruders with icy glee.

Sébastien Marcovici, along with Adam Hendrickson, were cast, as they often are, as The Intruders. With tonight’s new female cast in play, Mr. Marcovici seemed more vulnerable, more angst-ridden. Mr. Hendrickson, as well, exuded extra tension and turmoil. Ruth Sobotka’s tight -black wigs and string-decorated costumes and Jean Rosenthal’s sets were all effectively lit by Jennifer Tipton...

Other Dances (1976): Music by Frédéric Chopin, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Pianist: Cameron Grant, Performed by Ashley Bouder and Joaquin De Luz. The third Robbins work tonight, Other Dances, swiftly changed the mood to carefree joy. Cameron Grant brought forth four Chopin mazurkas and a waltz, and Ashley Bouder, in a pink dress, partnered by Joaquin De Luz, in purple tights and a flowing shirt, made the most of these delightful piano melodies. They danced in solo and pas de deux. Ms. Bouder offered sweeping gestures, with her signature confidence and charm. Mr. De Luz offered personality, high jumps and spins, and multiple leg kicks en air. It had been awhile since I saw this duo together again, and their partnership should be showcased more often. They feed off each other’s boundless energy and enthusiasm, and both dancers know how to keep their eyes on each other and the audience, so we’re all in on the moment.

The Concert [Or the Perils of Everybody] A Charade in One Act (1956): Music by Frédéric Chopin, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Décor by Saul Steinberg, Costumes by Irene Sharaff, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Pianist: Nancy McDill, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Andrew Veyette, Gwyneth Muller, Arch Higgins, Austin Laurent, Justin Peck, Allen Peiffer, Ashley Laracey, Georgina Pazcoguin, Stephanie Zungre, and the Company.

I was quite eager to see this campy ballet again, after so many Seasons, and I was not disappointed. The cast was exactly as I remembered it, and Andrew Veyette is adorable as the unhappy husband of a smothering wife, as he pursues Sterling Hyltin in her equally adorable hats. This ballet, according to NYCB Notes, is about “patterns and paths of reveries…influenced by the music itself”. So, when the listener hears a Chopin Prelude, for example, he/she may think of a man with a cigar who wants to stab his wife and run off with the leggy blonde. The wife, also adorable, is Gwyneth Muller, who has the theatrical skills of a Lucille Ball en pointe. Her Desi Arnaz is Andrew Veyette, who, along with the ensemble, sprouts butterfly wings and prances and pounces, always after the blonde. I wish Ms. Hyltin would soften her tight grin, as it seems to appear in every role. She needs to dramatize with nuance, to exude natural, shifting affect, to deepen her personality. Here, as the coy flirt, the grin is not so inappropriate, but still too tight. Her dance skill, on the other hand, is agile and brisk.

Nancy McDill was filled with humor, as she dusted the piano and mugged for the audience, and the Corps, especially Georgina Pazcoguin and Arch Higgins, in lead roles, and Vincent Paradiso and Ralph Ippolito in backup Corps, added frivolous fun to the festivities. Irene Sharaff’s costumes, especially the butterfly wings and feelers, were colorful and clever. Saul Steinberg’s décor was well lit by Ronald Bates’ design. This is one “Charade” that never tires. Kudos to Jerome Robbins for tonight’ eclectic program.

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