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New York City Ballet: Yvonne Borree Farewell: Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Estancia, Duo Concertant
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New York City Ballet: Yvonne Borree Farewell: Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Estancia, Duo Concertant

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Yvonne Borree Farewell
Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet
Duo Concertant

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 6, 2010

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Clotilde Otranto

Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (1966): Music by Johannes Brahms (First Piano Quartet in G Minor, Op. 25), Orchestrated by Arnold Schoenberg, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Abi Stafford, Jonathan Stafford, Savannah Lowery, Jenifer Ringer, Jared Angle, Yvonne Borree, Benjamin Millepied, Maria Kowroski, Charles Askegard, and the Company. This was Balanchine's first abstract work for New York State Theater. Schoenberg orchestrated Brahms' "Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor", and Balanchine used this work, as he did not like chamber music for ballet. (NYCB Notes).

Today’s matinee was the first of four sequential June Sundays and four sequential Principal Farewells. One Thursday Farewell will bid goodbye to Conductor Maestro Kaplow. The other Principal Farewells will bid goodbye respectively to Philip Neal, Albert Evans, and Darci Kistler. Farewells bring an intense anticipation to the hall, and when the Principal first appears onstage, and at each curtain, there’s much vocal adulation and recognition. Today was no exception.

The Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet brought out Abi Stafford and her brother, Jonathan Stafford, in the first movement Allegro leads, along with Savannah Lowery. Ms. Lowery was exceptionally light on her feet, and Ms. Stafford danced with vibrancy and poise. Farewell programs always inspire the best in each performer. Mr. Stafford was regal and charming, attentive and beaming. The second movement Intermezzo was led by Jenifer Ringer and Benjamin Millepied. They were accompanied by the rising stars, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Dara Johnson, and Gwyneth Muller. This movement brought out buoyant elegance and scintillating spontaneity.

But it was the next two movements that lit up the hall. Yvonne Borree and Benjamin Millepied appeared to lead the third movement Andante, and Ms. Borree was greeted warmly. Although she danced with a somewhat mellow temperament, her smile of gratitude was visually apparent. Ms. Borree and Mr. Millepied danced together for the last time, and they seemed to gather joy from the experience. The fourth movement Rondo alla Zingarese, led by Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard, was, incredibly, even more punctuated with sensational style than on recent viewing. Ms. Kowroski has created a hand-on-foot kick, while gazing knowingly at the audience, with mesmerizing stage presence.

Estancia (2010): Music by Alberto Ginastera, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Scenic Design by Santiago Calatrava, Costumes by Carlos Campos, Costumes Supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Singer: Philip Cutlip, Performed by Tiler Peck as Country Girl, Tyler Angle as City Boy, Andrew Veyette as Wild Horse, and the Company as Wild Horses, Estancia Workers, and City Folk.

An estancia is a ranch on the Argentine Pampas, and a city boy is there for urban escape. When he’s drawn to a country girl, she rejects him at first, as his dress and manner is strange, and she’s busy taming horses. He immediately wants in – to this new way of life, even when city “folk” pass by and try to bring him home. The country girl remains distant and urges him to follow the city tourists. When wild horses gallop through the Pampas, the city boy tries to tame one and actually succeeds. That’s the winning deal for the girl, and she’s finally impressed and seduced. The new couple enjoys the night stars, and at dawn they are together, forever in the Pampas. (Program Notes)

What could be more festive for today’s Farewell than an interlude of Wheeldon’s new Estancia. On second viewing, I really appreciated this newly commissioned work so much more, as the now familiar story unfolded beautifully through vivacious dance (in contrast to the new Barak work that unfolded through inappropriate talking sequences). In a good ballet, the story is meaningful through the detailed, interwoven choreography. Simplicity speaks. Estancia uses nuanced theatrics to drive the story line, and the lovers’ pas de deux (Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle) was exquisite and evocative. Georgina Pazcoguin’s role as the wild filly, tamed by Mr. Angle, was ornamented today with rambunctious kicks and horse-like head motion. The horses en pointe were a sight to see, as was Andrew Veyette, as the wild stallion, who really relished his role. Mark Stanley’s lighting against Santiago Calatrava’s painted and colorful set design was brilliant.

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).

All eyes were on Yvonne Borree as she took to the stage one last time. Duo Concertant, an uncluttered work for two dancers and onstage pianist and violinist, was especially poignant for this finale. Ms. Borree had danced this same role with Mikhail Baryshnikov, when she was in the corps, and today marked the finale of over two decades with City Ballet. It seemed much too soon for her Farewell, as Ms. Borree exuded youthful ardor and animation. Her final performance was refined and classy, just like this 1972 Balanchine work. Jared Angle cradled and spun Ms. Borree and walked her back and forth to the musicians, as they casually gazed upon them and upon each other. The mood was serene and wistful, and the ballet ends with Ms. Borree in solo glowing spotlight, her face and arm lifted to the heavens. What a fadeout.

The audience gave the couple multiple curtain calls. Today’s post-curtain, stage activities set a particular style for this busy, Farewell Season. Ms. Borree was greeted with large floral presentation bouquets, from her partners current and past, including Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins. Damian Woetzel arrived with a hidden red paper heart, reminiscent of Ms. Borree’s role in Balanchine’s The Steadfast Tin Soldier. The corps brought out single long-stem roses, and then streamers and confetti rained down. When it was all over, Ms. Borree took solo stage and the audience enveloped her with vocal accolades. She was a class act, and she surely has another career chapter to write in future years.

Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle
in Christopher Wheeldon's "Estancia"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Tyler Angle and the Cast of
Christopher Wheeldon's "Estancia"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Jared Angle and Yvonne Borree
in Balanchine's "Duo Concertant"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Yvonne Borree's Farewell Bows,
Flowers, Confetti, Accolades
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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