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New York City Ballet: Dances at a Gathering, West Side Story Suite
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New York City Ballet: Dances at a Gathering, West Side Story Suite

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New York City Ballet

All Robbins

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
Guest Teacher: Merrill Ashley
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
February 18, 2010

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Clotilde Otranto

Dances at a Gathering (1969): Music by Frédéric Chopin, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Joe Eula, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Pianist: Cameron Grant, Performed by Megan Fairchild, Maria Kowroski, Sara Mearns, Jenifer Ringer, Abi Stafford, Jared Angle, Antonio Carmena, Gonzalo Garcia, Amar Ramasar, and Jonathan Stafford.

Tonight’s two dance performance, in the Robbins repertoire, began with his Dances at a Gathering, choreographed to 18 of Chopin’s mazurkas, waltzes, and études. He arranged solos, pas de deux, and ensemble dances, and Cameron Grant kept the tempo bright for the full hour of this elegant piece. According to the Program Notes, Robbins used “gestures, moods, steps” that were inspired by the “fabric of the music”. This is definitely a work that needs to be seen early in the evening and needs to be followed by a work such as West Side Story Suite, with so much more charisma and drive. Yet, the magnetic quality of Dances at a Gathering was its romantic nature, its bucolic ambiance. One could imagine dancers in a meadowland, frolicking, flirting, teasing, and tousling. Every youthful emotion was developed in expressiveness and expansiveness, and Joe Eula’s colorful costumes added a kaleidoscopic effect, especially in the swirling ensemble imagery.

Those dancers who caught my eye were Jared Angle, who exuded warmth and chivalry, Sara Mearns, the very essence of spring, Maria Kowroski, ever coy and magnetic, and Amar Ramasar, one of the Company’s most magnetic dancers. In fact, Mr. Ramasar dances with charm, poise, and total exuberance in the moment.

West Side Story Suite (1995): Music by Leonard Bernstein, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Scenery by Oliver Smith, Costumes by Irene Sharaff, Original Book by Arthur Laurents, Co-Choreographer: Peter Gennaro, Guest Singers: Rob Lorey, Lara Marie Hirner, Jane Brockman, Julie Price, Whitney Webster, Performed by Benjamin Millepied as Tony, Andrew Veyette as Riff, Amar Ramasar as Bernardo, Georgina Pazcoguin as Anita, Kathryn Morgan as Maria, Gretchen Smith as Rosalia, and the Company as The Jets, Their Girls, and The Sharks, Their Girls. Mr. Sondheim began his career as a lyricist with West Side Story in 1957 and then with Gypsy in 1959. His theatrical mentor was Oscar Hammerstein. (NYCB Notes).

In a full character turn-around, Amar Ramasar morphed from a bucolic dance partner to Bernardo, Leader of the Sharks. His slightest head gestures brought forth the pulsating Shark ensemble, clicking fingers and grasping knives. Andrew Veyette, as Riff, Leader of the Jets, was fully natural in the role, and neither Mr. Veyette nor Mr. Ramasar grandstanded or intentionally drew attention to themselves, even though they were gripping on the stage. Georgina Pazcoguin, as always, was a sexy, sassy, saucy Anita, shaking her hips and ruffles and stamping her shoes. Benjamin Millepied and Kathryn Morgan are well suited as partners, emotionally and physically, and their chemistry in the “Somewhere Ballet” was captivating.

Who could not be enthralled by hearing Mr. Veyette sing “Cool” and the Company sing “Somewhere”? They dance, they sing, they evoke rapture, they rumble with knives, they dream, and they party. Among the Jets, Ask la Cour and Christian Tworzyanski caught my eye, while among the Sharks, Vincent Paradiso and Sean Suozzi caught me eye. Among Their Girls, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Marika Anderson, Gwyneth Muller, and Stephanie Zungre were most exciting to watch. Clotilde Otranto carried the orchestra superbly through this dynamic, percussive ballet, with instrumental solos clearly highlighted. Irene Sharaff’s costumes are always transporting and very 50’s. But, it’s Jerome Robbins who deserves the greatest kudos here.

Gonzalo Garcia and Jenifer Ringer
in Robbins' "Dances at a Gathering"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Kathryn Morgan and Benjamin Millepied
in Robbins' "West Side Story Suite"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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