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New York City Ballet: Concerto DSCH, Polyphonia, For The Love of Duke

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Concerto DSCH
For The Love of Duke

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children’s Ballet Master, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Fayçal Karoui
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects, Robert Daniels
Manager, Media Relations, Katharina Plumb
Assoc., Communications &Special Projects, Caitlin Gillette
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 28, 2011

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Concerto DSCH (2008): Music by Dmitri Shostakovich, Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Ryan McAdams, Piano: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Ashley Bouder, Tyler Angle, Joaquin De Luz, Andrew Veyette, and the Company.

I’m always drawn to Holly Hynes’ orange-red, green-orange costumes, matching colors for each duo, with Mr. De Luz in blue-grey. This striking visual enhances Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH. with Shostakovich’s riveting score, his Second Piano Concerto. Elaine Chelton played the elegant “Andante” second movement (the other two are “Allegro”), as Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle came together for its soulful pas de deux, with Mr. Angle pursuing Ms. Whelan in slow motion, then lifting her, weightless. Ms. Whelan kneels in Mr. Angle’s arms and then flutters her feet in rapid motion. Ratmansky’s work is angular with dancers positioned with bent elbows, leaping about each other with powerful ensemble athletics and vigorous surprises. Yet, the style remains balletic, never modern.

Andrew Veyette and Joaquin De Luz leaped about in brisk dynamics, as these are two of the most powerful male principals, and their timing was tight. Mr. De Luz executed full body springs that defied gravity. Ashley Bouder is rapid, rambunctious, coy, connected. Concerto DSCH is replete with eloquence of mood, momentum, direction, and space. Now they fall on the stage, now they huddle, now they toss themselves about with abandon. There’s a taut design to this visual integration, and we cannot stop gazing at the gestalt. Moods shift, with flirtation, humor, the unexpected, and the audacious. Kudos to Alexei Ratmansky.

Polyphonia (2001): Music by Gyorgy Ligeti, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Cameron Grant and Alan Moverman, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Jared Angle, Jennie Somogyi, Christian Tworzyanski, Brittany Pollack, Taylor Stanley, Lauren Lovette, and Chase Finlay. Set to ten varied piano pieces by Ligeti, Wheeldon has created unusual lifts, rolls, and pushes to contrast with classical ballet. (Program Notes).

Ligeti’s score reminded me of a dissonant form of Satie, with each dancer accentuating the theme. This piece seemed just as fascinating for the score as for the dancing, with prepared piano and standard piano aptly presented by Cameron Grant and Alan. Moverman. Purple leotards on grey backdrop underscore Wheeldon’s thrilling thematics, with the talented Corps so playful and poignant. Maria Kowroski and Jared Angle are exquisitely matched in stark motifs. Mark Stanley's lighting had its signature glow, and Jennie Somogyi and Lauren Lovette added drama and daring dimension to the ten searing piano pieces. When Ms. Kowroski poignantly gazes at the audience, a breathless dimension is added. Brittany Pollack and Chase Finlay are two rising stars in the Corps, with each commanding attention through fascinating figures.

For The Love of Duke (World Premiere): Guest Artists, David Berger Jazz Orchestra, Original Transcriptions by David Berger.

Frankie and Johnny…and Rose: Music by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, Choreography by Susan Stroman, Costumes by William Ivey Long, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Arranged by Doug Besterman, Conducted by David Berger, Performed by Amar Ramasar, Tiler Peck, and Sara Mearns.

Blossom Got Kissed: Music by Music by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, Choreography by Susan Stroman, Costumes by William Ivey Long, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Arranged by Andy Farber, Conducted by David Berger, Performed by Savannah Lowery, Robert Fairchild, and the Company.

Susan Stroman, once again, brings Broadway romance to City Ballet. Amar Ramasar, as Johnny, has a brief love affair (dance affair) with Rose (Tyler Peck), until sexy Frankie (Sara Mearns) struts in and almost steals him away. Behind their bench is an apparent mattress as Rose, then Frankie, get rolled over and disappear, while Mr. Ramasar flirtatiously dances with the other. In City Ballet there is no finer comedic character actor than Mr. Ramasar, although Robert Fairchild always rivets the eye in Swing-infused works, so Ellington was perfect for both charismatic male principals. In Blossom Got Kissed, Savannah Lowery shifts her bluesy, klutzy style (and blue tutu fittingly) for a sassy red tutu and rapid Swing, when Mr. Fairchild bows and kisses her hand. An end of dance kiss has her swept off her feet.

Both segments of this Stroman premiere were thoroughly enjoyed by the audience, especially with the Corps coming in for Blossom’s piece. David Berger is stage rear with his Jazz Orchestra, and they sounded great. Isaac ben Ayala was exceptionally dazzling on piano, and this 14-piece Orchestra brought the audience up close to “Single Petal of a Rose”, “Love You Madly”, “Such Sweet Thunder”, “Frankie and Johnny”, “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”, and “Lotus blossom”. Ms. Lowery was exuberant and animated, while Mr. Fairchild was dashing and dynamic.

Tyler Angle, Wendy Whelan,
and Company
in "Concerto DSCH"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Chase Finlay and Lauren Lovette
in "Polyphonia"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Tiler Peck, Sara Mearns, Amar Ramasar
in "For the Love of Duke"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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