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New York City Ballet: After the Rain, Luce Nascosta 'Unseen Light', Who Cares?

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

After the Rain
Luce Nascosta 'Unseen Light'
Who Cares?

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 10, 2010

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

After the Rain (2005): Music by Arvo Pärt (Tabula Rasa (1977), for two violins, string orchestra, and prepared piano, and Spiegel im Spiegel (1978), for violin and piano), Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Fayçal Karoui, Violins: Kurt Nikkanen, Lydia Hong, Arturo Delmoni, Pianos: Alan Moverman and Cameron Grant, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Craig Hall, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Teresa Reichlen, and Amar Ramasar.

Tonight was another World Premiere night in the Architecture of Dance series, and After the Rain, one of my favorites in the repertory, set the precise mood of mystery and ethereal enchantment. Christopher Wheeldon is so versatile, with his new Estancia so ebullient and campy and After the Rain so melancholy and introspective. Mark Stanley’s backdrop shifts from Part I steel grey to Part II warm mauve. Slate blue costumes in Part I shift to pink, nearly skin bare costumes in Part II. The Arvo Pärt score is searing and stunning.

In Part I, Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall are part of an ensemble of six, onstage but unobtrusive. They take center-stage in Part II, with Ms. Whelan in her iconic climb up to Mr. Hall’s torso, bending in angelic pose, like a sculpted figure leading a ship. Today’s two Part performance was so still, you could not hear one step, and the entire experience was fully transporting. The sensuality of the Whelan-Hall pas de deux was breathtaking. When Ms. Whelan first performed this dance with the retired, Jock Soto, it seemed nobody could fill his “feet” (performed barefoot). But, Craig Hall mastered the challenge and is now intrinsic to the role. Completing the Part I ensemble, Amar Ramasar, Teresa Reichlen, Adrian Danchig-Waring, and Kaitlyn Gilliland are the crème de la crème of City Ballet dancers, and thus the entire ballet was astounding.

Luce Nascosta ‘Unseen Light’ (World Premiere): Music by Bruno Moretti (Commissioned by New York City Ballet), Choreography by Mauro Bigonzetti, Scenic Design by Santiago Calatrava, Costumes by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Fayçal Karoui, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Maria Kowroski, Tiler Peck, Teresa Reichlen, Tyler Angle, Gonzalo Garcia, Amar Ramasar, Jonathan Stafford, and the Company.

Today’s World Premiere of the newest Mauro Bigonzetti - Bruno Moretti collaboration was momentous. Luce Nascosta ‘Unseen Light” was a gripping, edgy, visually vibrant work. As soon as it started, I leaned forward, as did many in the audience. In fact, it was like a thriller, of musical, moody ambiance. Santiago Calatrava’s newest scenic design in this Season’s Architecture of Dance, New Choreography and Music Festival, was mind-boggling. The before-ballet film again showed its structure and meaning, but it was so dramatic to experience in the moment. Mark Stanley’s shimmering lighting illumined the golden discs that begin with one large circle, with smaller circles slowly floating from either side. At one point the circles push forward toward the audience, and later push backward. The design was hypnotic, all the more so, with a deep black background, dim, opaque stage lighting, and black, side stage-screens.

Marc Happel’s black-gold costumes added dramatic flourish to the experience, as the ruffled tutus resembled ostrich feathers, perfect for the accentuated derrieres in Bigonzetti’s edgy choreography. The women wore transparent black silk on their arms, and the men wore black, slit pants. Amazingly, the previous work, After the Rain almost seemed quoted, when a dancer would slowly push a partner’s arm or foot into the air. But, then a pelvis would rise, a leg would wrap, and silence might ensue. The production includes full ensemble with soloists and corps, duos, and solos. Craig Hall and Adrian Danchig-Waring were each riveting in rippling torsos and arm stretches, as their solos unfolded. One couple or one dancer would be spotlighted at a time, or one female dancer would slide to meet a partner and wrap herself warmly in an embrace. They were like spirits in the night air, under a golden moon, and the gold on the black ruffled tutus shimmered like fireflies in hot breezes.

Bigonzetti’s choreography is no-frills, no fouettés. It was, instead, a celebration of visual motion, in the midst of Calatrava’s golden discs in motion. A brilliant merging of talented minds. Moretti’s score, as well, enhanced the production with complexity of moods, from peaceful to impulsive. The glowing partnering built on dynamic and quiet segments, full of serendipitous surprise. Hands were held at an angle, fingers spread like an insect. The cast was in its element, composed of dancers with glowing personalities. Ashley Bouder, Teresa Reichlen, Maria Kowroski, and Tiler Peck were all brash and enthused in the varied, eye-catching shapes they made with hands and hips. Tyler Angle, Jonathan Stafford, Amar Ramasar, and Gonzalo Garcia, as well, brought enthusiasm to the event. I can’t wait to see this again.

Who Cares? (1970): Music by George Gershwin, Adapted and Orchestrated by Hershy Kay, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Jo Mielziner, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Clotilde Otranto, Pianist: Nancy McDill, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Tiler Peck, Ana Sophia Scheller, Robert Fairchild, and the Company.

What a night! After two outsized ballets with outsized performances, we were treated to Balanchine’s Who Cares? and Gershwin’s finest melodies. Conductor, Clotilde Otranto gave Maestro Karoui a well-deserved break, and eighteen songs, from “Strike Up the Band” to “I Got Rhythm” loosened the night. The highpoints were Robert Fairchild’s “Liza”, with dizzying spins and perfect timing, a truly memorable performance, and Tiler Peck’s “Fascinatin’ Rhythm”, with her own dizzying spins across the wide stage. Sterling Hyltin was endearing in “I’ll Build a Staircase to Paradise”, as was Ana Sophia Scheller in “My One and Only”. When Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild teamed up for “The Man I Love’, we could have been sitting on Broadway, instead of in Lincoln Center. In the ensemble, Sean Suozzi, Adrian Danchig-Waring, and Ask la Cour caught my eye. Nancy McDill added pizzazz on piano, and Maestra Otranto kept the momentum breezy. Kudos to Balanchine and Gershwin.

Adrian Danchig-Waring and Teresa Reichlen
in Bigonzetti's "Luce Nascosta"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Gonzalo Garcia and Tiler Peck
in Bigonzetti's "Luce Nascosta"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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