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New York City Ballet: Donizetti Variations, Luce Nascosta ‘Unseen Light’, The Concert

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Donizetti Variations
Luce Nascosta ‘Unseen Light’
The Concert

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 19, 2010

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Donizetti Variations (1960): Music by Gaetano Donizetti (from Don Sebastian), Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Performed by Megan Fairchild, Joaquin De Luz, and the Company. Donizetti composed over 65 operas, plus chamber music, for some of the greatest singers of his time. Balanchine created this ballet for a "Salute to Italy". (NYCB Notes)

It seemed unusual to attend a non-premiere, non-farewell, City Ballet performance this Season, and the ambiance tonight was casual and relaxed. With three now familiar works (the second is a season premiere, and already reviewed), I could watch the performances for detailed dancing and sheer appreciation. In the case of the third work, I looked forward to pure entertainment.

Donizetti Variations was led by Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz, seasoned partners extraordinaire. Physically and psychically they match, and when one began the dance slow, the other would begin fast, with feet frolicking to the spritely tempo with witty confidence. Joaquin De Luz’ audience engagement works for both, and their energy and enthusiasm were boundless. Mr. De Luz, who arrived a few years ago from across the Plaza, a versatile story ballet danseur, fast transformed into a versatile Balanchine danseur, no minor feat. Their similar pink Karinska costumes enhanced the symmetry of this jewel-like work, and the corps, in peasant costumes of blue, white, and brown, was outstanding in the melodic meter. Georgina Pazcoguin and Daniel Applebaum caught my eye, as they often do, with their attention to affect, as well as to style. Mr. De Luz is an attentive, charismatic partner, adding luminosity to Ms. Fairchild in the moment.

Luce Nascosta ‘Unseen Light’ (2010): 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.

On second viewing, Bigonzetti’s newly commissioned piece for the Architecture of Dance Festival was even more astounding. In fact, my notes included “mesmerizing, monumental, mind-blowing”. Amar Ramasar and Maria Kowroski together exuded surreal, stunning drama, as the Moretti score electrified, elevated, and enthralled the stage and the audience. Teresa Reichlen walked into her spotlight with a knowing glance to the hall, just before preening and prancing like a ruffled ostrich seen through a dark angled mirror. Arms wound about, with wrists bent and fingers thrust into reptilian imagery. Gonzalo Garcia found his genre here, with bristling muscularity and piercing focus. Once again, Craig Hall and Adrian Danchig-Waring danced in solo silence, bare, back muscles undulating on glowing torsos. Santiago Calatrava’s golden discs seemed alive tonight, always slightly in motion, like a hypnotist’s watch chain. This is a piece that should be oft included in seasonal repertory.

The Concert [Or the Perils of Everybody] A Charade in One Act (1956): Music by Frédéric Chopin, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Décor by Saul Steinberg, Costumes by Irene Sharaff, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Pianist: Nancy McDill, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Andrew Veyette, Gwyneth Muller, Arch Higgins, Austin Laurent, Justin Peck, Allen Peiffer, Ashley Laracey, Georgina Pazcoguin, Stephanie Zungre, and the Company.

One of my main reasons for choosing tonight’s program was the chance to see The Concert this season. Each dancer has now internalized the respective roles with seamless characterization, even minor roles. From the moment Nancy McDill arrives with her piano dusting hankie and adds personality to her performance, anticipation is thick, as the vaudevillian plot unfolds. This is surely one of Jerome Robbins’ wittiest works, and its simplicity is its success. Sterling Hyltin is a flirtatious girl in a hat. Andrew Veyette is a philandering guy with a cigar. Gwyneth Muller is the guy’s jealous wife with a temper. And so on. Dancers go to sit down where chairs disappeared, a concert audience draws umbrellas and sprouts butterfly wings. Robbins was aware that Chopin’s music would inspire daydreams, and thus characters argue, kiss, chase, and leap about in utter abandon. Yet, the antics are never silly or senseless. Rather there’s always a persuasive human quality, as we see ourselves in our own daydreaming imagery. Kudos to Nancy McDill for music and wit.

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