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Pennsylvania Ballet: Serenade, Carmina Burana
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Pennsylvania Ballet: Serenade, Carmina Burana

- Onstage with the Dancers

Studio 57 Fine Arts

211 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

Mon. - Sat. 10 AM - 8 PM
Sun. 12 Noon - 6 PM
Ask for Jack or Eddie

Pennsylvania Ballet
(Pennsylvania Ballet Website)
Barbara Weisberger, Founder
Roy Kaiser, Artistic Director
Michael G. Scolamiero, Exec. Director
Tamara Hadley, Ballet Mistress
Jeffrey Gribler, Ballet Master
Beatrice Jona Affron, Music Director & Conductor
Matthew Neenan, Choreographer in Residence

At City Center
(City Center Website)

The Company:
James Ady, Amy Aldridge, Martha Chamberlain,
Julie Diana, Zachary Hench, Alexander Iziliaev,
Riolama Lorenzo, Arantxa Ochoa, Sergio Torrado, James Ihde, Francis Veyette, Gabriella Yudenich, Corps, and Apprentices

Press: Keith Sherman and Associates

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 16, 2007

Serenade (1935): Choreography by George Balanchine, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky (Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48), Repetiteur, Sandra Jennings, Costumes after Karinska, Lighting Design by John Hoey, Performed by Julie Diana, Martha Chamberlain, Arantxa Ochoa, Sergio Torrado, James Ady, and the Company.

Serenade is one of my favorite Balanchine works, with its striking choreography and swelling strings. The Pennsylvania Ballet brought this work to an audience, well versed in City Ballet’s Balanchine repertoire, and, as in last night’s Concerto Barocco, I was struck by the revelation of personalities and individualization by the soloists and corps. And, again, this was a fresh interpretation, and Roy Kaiser, Artistic Director, engaged the audience with the poetic musicality of Julie Diana, Amy Aldridge, and Arantxa Ochoa. The four movements were danced seamlessly, as the corps, with uplifted arms and pale blue tutus, is soon replaced with emotional and spiritual solos. The lifting of one soloist, after her elegant and worldly demise, with the corps in rapturous structure, was attentively executed by Sergio Torrado. James Ady was poised and intense in his solo, as well. This was a sensual, sensitive, and surreal ballet, expertly staged by Sandra Jennings.

Carmina Burana (2007): Choreography by Matthew Neenan, Music by Carl Orff, Scenic Design by Mimi Lien, Costume Design by Oana Botez-Ban, Lighting Design by John Hoey, Soprano: Sarah Coburn, Tenor: Glenn Alamilla, Baritone: Jesse Blumberg, with the New York Choral Society, John Daly Goodwin, Music Director, Chorus prepared by Michael A. Ciavaglia, Assistant Conductor, Performed by Amy Aldridge, Martha Chamberlain, Julie Diana, James Ihde, Jermel Johnson, Abigail Mentzer, Arantxa Ochoa, Sergio Torrado, Francis Veyette, and the Company.

The high point of the two day program was Carmina Burana, just premiered this March. Resident Choreographer, Matthew Neenan, brought in the New York Choral Society, directed by John Daly Goodwin. The stage sides were lined with the imposing and impressive chorus, and three vocal soloists were featured onstage, throughout the work, which lasted as long as two works, the previous night. The Carl Orff score is based on 13th Century poems and songs, conceived by minstrels who abandoned “sacred beliefs in favor of …secular pleasures” (Program Notes). Neenan used the original Orff design of 25 songs, divided into three groups. Thus, an array of costumes, moods, and sets.

The audience is treated to Oana Botez-Ban's exotic arm and leg hosiery with black/white half-ruffled dresses, as well as fleshy leotards and some stretchy fabric for choreographic freedom and artistic effect. The bravura athleticism and fascinating movement, amidst a white, opaque structure that rivets the imagery, was truly unique and contemporary in genre. This ballet bursts with sexy solos and luscious lyricism. Mr. Neenan was a dancer in the Company through 2004, and he performed principal roles in Martins, Taylor, Robbins, and Wheeldon ballets. I saw the daring style of Peter Martins, the witty style of Paul Taylor, the dramatic style of Jerome Robbins, and the sensual style of Christopher Wheeldon. Kudos to Roy Kaiser and Matthew Neenan.

Artists of Pennsylvania Ballet
Photo: Paul Kolnik

Carmina Burana
Jermel Johnson
Photo: Paul Kolnik

Carmina Burana
Jonathan Stiles and Laura Bowman
Photo: Paul Kolnik

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