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New York City Ballet: Monumentum Pro Gesualdo, Movements for Piano and Orchestra, Mozartiana, Thou Swell
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New York City Ballet: Monumentum Pro Gesualdo, Movements for Piano and Orchestra, Mozartiana, Thou Swell

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Monumentum Pro Gesualdo
Movements for Piano and Orchestra
Thou Swell

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
June 5, 2010 Matinee

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Fayçal Karoui

Monumentum Pro Gesualdo (1960): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Charles Askegard, and the Company. Stravinsky's homage to Don Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa re-composes the madrigals into instrumental voices. (NYCB Notes)

Today’s viewing was much more enticing than my last, and the severity of this ballet and its following counterpart are excellent matinee choices, when the audience is alert and fresh. Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard exuded the requisite reverence, intensity, and strength that Balanchine designed on this Stravinsky score, that’s an instrumental take on madrigals. The geometrically spaced lines of corps, behind the leads, was fascinating, with men on their knees at one point and women in angular leg lifts.

Movements for Piano and Orchestra (1958-59): Music by Igor Stravinsky (Movements for Piano and Orchestra), Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano Solo: Alan Moverman, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Charles Askegard, and the Company. This piece is divided into five sections, and Balanchine paired this work with the previous one for performances. (NYCB Notes)

After a brief pause, Ms. Kowroski and Mr. Askegard returned, looking just as fresh and focused on the second segment as they were at the start of the first. The music beat to measured refrains, accentuated by Alan Moverman’s seasoned, solo piano; staccato chords, then pauses, inspired the dancers’ shifting shapes. Ms. Kowroski’s long limbs cut through the air with vigor, while Mr. Askegard was most mesmerizing in his partnering role, holding and shaping Ms. Kowroski like a porcelain sculpture.

Mozartiana (1981): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky (Suite No. 4, Op. 61), Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Daniel Ulbricht, Benjamin Millepied, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Dara Johnson, Gwyneth Muller, Gretchen Smith, and students from the School of American Ballet: Eliza Blutt, Kaitlyn Casey, Sarita Marom, Lucy Nevin. Tschaikovsky studied at the Conservatory in St. Petersburg, where Balanchine also studied piano and dance. The original NYC Ballet cast included Suzanne Farrell, Ib Andersen, and Christopher d'Amboise. (NYCB Notes)

This afternoon’s Mozartiana was one of the finest performances I’ve seen to date. Wendy Whelan’s arms in the Preghiera were perfectly rounded, as she’s personalized and internalized the role. Her power and confidence were softened by a radiant warmth. Daniel Ulbricht, in the Gigue, was more restrained than usual, with mature polish. The Menuet was strong, due to its fine cast, especially Kaitlyn Gilliland and Gwyneth Muller, two different dancers, the first ethereal and statuesque, the second gleaming and rapturous.

For the Theme and Variations, Ms. Whelan was joined by Benjamin Millepied, who achieved some elevation, with tiny en air kicks and remarkable partnered chemistry. The School of American Ballet students gave a spiritual, refined performance. I never tire of gazing at Rouben Ter-Arutunian’s classically conceived, dark costumes, with long, stiff tutus and off-shoulder, short sleeves. Maestro Karoui has been busy today, and one piece remains to be conducted.

Thou Swell (2003): Music by Richard Rodgers, Music Arranged by Gene Kelly, Orchestrations by Don Sebesky, Choreography by Peter Martins, Scenery by Robin Wagner, Costumes by Julius Lumsden, Costumes Supervised by Julie Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Singers: Chloe and Joe Paparella, Guest Trio: Alan Moverman on Piano, Ron Wasserman on Bass, James Saporito on Drums, Performed by Faye Arthurs, Charles Askegard, Yvonne Borree, Robert Fairchild, Darci Kistler, Jared Angle, Jenifer Ringer, Amar Ramasar, and the Company.

Yvonne Borree, on the cusp of retirement, gave one of her most ravishing performances in Peter Martins’ Thou Swell, one of my favorite repertory ballets. Partnered by the virtuosic Robert Fairchild, they seized the stage with abandon. At one point Ms. Borree was carried on his shoulder like Coppélia, one of her renowned roles. Darci Kistler, also soon to retire, exuded less depth of emotion but lovely elegant style. Her partner, Jared Angle, is always chivalrous and right on time with extraordinary attention. Jenifer Ringer and Amar Ramasar were stunning, individually and as a couple. They both exude abundant charisma and a love for the Broadway genre. Faye Arthurs and Charles Askegard enhanced the Richard Rodgers score with sophisticated lines.

The corps, as couples in Robin Wagner’s sumptuous, mirrored nightclub set, was splendid. The City Ballet Jazz Trio could perform in the best of clubs, on their own, but the vocalists sang with flat, inconsistent tones. Julius Lumsden’s ballroom costumes are high fashion and eye-catching. Kudos to Peter Martins and tonight’s cast. And, Kudos to Maestro Karoui for a grand afternoon at the ballet.

Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard
in Balanchine's "Movements for Piano and Orchestra"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Faye Arthurs, Charles Askegard,
Darci Kistler, Jared Angle
in Peter Martins' "Thou Swell"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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