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New York City Ballet: Concerto Barocco, Duo Concertant, Namouna, A Grand Divertissement
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New York City Ballet: Concerto Barocco, Duo Concertant, Namouna, A Grand Divertissement

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Concerto Barocco
Duo Concertant
Namouna, A Grand Divertissement

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
Manager, Media Relations: Katharina Plumb
Assoc., Communications and Special Projects, Caitlin Gillette
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 12, 2010

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Faycal Karoui

Concerto Barocco (1948): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach (Double Violin Concerto in D Minor), Chorography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violinists: Arturo Delmoni and Lydia Hong, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Ellen Bar, Charles Askegard, and the Company.

The eloquent Bach “Double Violin Concerto” still plays in my memory. Arturo Delmoni and Lydia Hong, led by Maestro Karoui, sumptuously inspired Maria Kowroski, Ellen Bar, and Charles Askegard’s alluring figures. With interlocking arms and smoothly shifting motion, they bent under and stepped over linked hands. The trio of dancers presented mirror images on either side and sometimes with the corps, in stunning symmetry. Charles Askegard led Ms. Whelan past lines of the ensemble (eight female corps) in structured, seamless patterns. The score resounds with harmony and beauty, and this ballet evokes characteristic refinement. Charles Askegard, the sole male in the cast, persuasively positioned himself into the moment. In the Corps, Stephanie Zungre caught my eye.

Duo Concertant (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violinist: Kurt Nikkanen, Pianist: Cameron Grant, Performed by Yvonne Borree and Jared Angle. Stravinsky had dedicated this "Duo Concertant" to Samuel Dushkin, a violinist friend, and the two performed this for years in Europe, starting in 1932 in Berlin. Balanchine choreographed to this score for the Stravinsky Festival, and Kay Mazzo danced with Peter Martins. (NYCB Notes).

Jared Angle and Yvonne Borree were casually placed by Cameron Grant’s piano, with Kurt Nikkanen nearby on violin. The dancers seemed to chat silently, absorbed by the music. Suddenly, as if by an internal spark, the two began dancing, in an abstract, but affectionate manner. Ms. Borree's impending retirement seemed all too soon, as she exudes youthful freshness, kindling an air of lyricism and playfulness. Mr. Angle has a restrained inner self, but he imbued his partnering with glowing attentiveness. They took time to draw the audience's attention to the Grant-Nikkanen duo, and then to themselves, as they romanticized and extended arms in a right stage spotlight.

Namouna, A Grand Divertissement (2010): Music by Edouard Lalo, Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Costumes by Marc Happel and Rustam Khamdamov, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Robert Fairchild, Jenifer Ringer, Sara Mearns, Megan Fairchild, Daniel Ulbricht, Abi Stafford, and the Company.

The Architecture of Dance, City Ballet’s 2010 Festival of New Choreography and Dance, began, for me, tonight, with Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna, A Grand Divertissement, set to Edouard Lalo’s 19th century ballet, Namouna. According to the program notes, Ratmansky designed this in the abstract, loosely based on the concept of hero, searching for his heroine. Namouna to me was very Nijinsky-esque, with retro headpieces, stiff, fairy-like costumes, playful, perky dances enhanced by melodic, swelling musicality, and virtuosic leaps and spins by some of the company’s finest.

Wendy Whelan, in the white stiff tutu, had a matching white headpiece, that hinted of Swan Lake’s tight feathered costumes. In fact, the corps wore the same white headpieces, with blue or black tutus, and I thought of Siegfried, frantically searching for Odette among the Swans, with Robert Fairchild in the Siegfried motif. Yet, he donned a white sailor shirt and britches, although this was no Fancy Free. His sailor leaped about joyfully among dancers in black headpieces and long strapless gowns, with male corps in tight caps as well. This was avant-garde, and this was serendipitous. Three dancers in brown, Daniel Ulbricht in shorts and Abi Stafford and Megan Fairchild in stiff brown tutus, all in brown tight caps, leaped about, hinting of a magical peasant pas de trois at Siegfried’s birthday. In fact, Namouna, A Grand Divertissement, was like a deep, devilish dream that one might have after partying with too much champagne.

Sara Mearns, as the lady in a blue strapless gown, leaped about in wild, wanton whimsy, legs spread out like a scissors, cutting the air. Wendy Whelan, in brisk, stiff white, appeared to enjoy every moment of this sparkling, campy performance, as did Jenifer Ringer, along with her onstage cigarette, so retro, so risqué. The corps was in perfect affect, looking so early century Paris or St. Petersburg, but, again, in a magical mental figment, possessed and refined. Robert Fairchild is fast becoming more than a great dancer. He’s becoming a star. When he’s onstage, eyes go nowhere but on him. Mr. Fairchild seduces the audience and charms his partner, with broad smiles, flawless timing, and virtuosic style.

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