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New York City Ballet: The Four Temperaments, After the Rain, The Four Seasons
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New York City Ballet: The Four Temperaments, After the Rain, The Four Seasons

- Onstage with the Dancers

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

The Four Temperaments
After the Rain
The Four Seasons

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
February 9, 2011

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

The Four Temperaments (1946): Music by Paul Hindemith, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Ryan McAdams, Piano Solo: Nancy McDill, Performed by Lydia Wellington, Zachary Catazaro, Amanda Hankes, Daniel Applebaum, Ashley Laracey, Christian Tworzyanski, Sébastien Marcovici, Abi Stafford, Jared Angle, Ask la Cour, Savannah Lowery, and the Company. The score (solo piano and strings) was commissioned by George Balanchine from Paul Hindemith in 1940. This ballet appeared at the opening program of Ballet Society, now City Ballet. (NYCB Notes).

This rarely seen Balanchine work is abstract and atonal, set to a Hindemith score, but refreshing, with simple black-white leotards and a grey-blue backdrop. Men carry the women off in scissor-legs motion, while staccato kicks and off-center balancing enunciate the choreography. Sébastien Marcovici led the Melancholic Variation with inherent speed and magnetizing resonance. Abi Stafford and Jared Angle led the Sanguinic Variation with focus and persuasion. My two favorite variations were the third and fourth, with Ask la Cour leading in Phlegmatic, with his signature regal and princely posture, long torso, and charging charisma. Savannah Lowery led the final Choleric variation, with ebullience and energy. Hindemith's score was superbly rendered by Nancy McDill and Ryan McAdams’ orchestral lead.

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, Sara Mearns, Ask la Cour, Teresa Reichlen, and Amar Ramasar. Christopher Wheeldon is a former NYC Ballet soloist and is NYC Ballet’s first Resident Choreographer. “After the Rain” is Mr. Wheeldon’s eleventh ballet created for NYC Ballet. (NYCB Notes).

At this point, Wendy Whelan owns this role. She danced After the Rain on each and every performance (as far as I know), first with Jock Soto, then Sébastien Marcovici, then Craig Hall. Mr. Hall is the best replacement for the irreplaceable Mr. Soto, who included this work, partnering Ms. Whelan, in his Farewell. Mr. Hall, in Part II, retains the intense focus and concentration, eloquent detail of gesture, and pure masculinity required for this role. The Arvo Pärt score is deeply spiritual, transporting, poignant.

Part I, as well, calls for quietude and deliberate connectedness to the audience. The entire cast was exceptional, including Amar Ramasar, Sara Mearns, Ask la Cour, Teresa Reichlen, plus Mr. Hall and Ms. Whelan. These are the crème de la crème of City Ballet principals, so well suited to the restrained passion and purposefulness of this work. I still miss the chemistry of the Soto-Whelan sequence, but the Hall-Whelan duo has style, eloquence, and breathiness. Kudos to Christopher Wheeldon, and this still seems his finest oeuvre.

The Four Seasons (1979): Music by Giuseppe Verdi, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Scenery and Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Conductor: Fayçal Karoui, Performed by Justin Peck as Janus, Russell Janzen as Winter, Gwyneth Muller as Spring, Marika Anderson as Summer, Henry Seth as Fall, Sean Suozzi, Lauren King, Christian Tworzyanski, Jenifer Ringer, Tyler Angle, Rebecca Krohn, Amar Ramasar, Ashley Bouder, Andrew Veyette, Daniel Ulbricht, and the Company. Verdi was known as a prolific composer of opera and was active in Italian politics. The Four Seasons draws upon Verdi's operas, I Vespri Siciliani, I Lombardi, and Il Trovatore. (NYCB Notes).

On revisiting Robbins’ The Four Seasons, I was struck by the Company’s fine-tuning of each of the four segments. In “Winter”, the female corps is charming in its shivering images, while Sean Suozzi, Lauren King (an artist to watch), and Christian Tworzyanski lead the incandescent choreography, in the frostiest white costumes against a snowy lit backdrop. In “Spring”, Jenifer Ringer and Tyler Angle danced with smooth, perfumed polish. In “Summer”, Amar Ramasar partnered Rebecca Krohn with personality and poise. In “Fall”, Andrew Veyette and Ashley Bouder were pulsating and propulsive in the most electrifying of the four “seasons”, while Daniel Ulbricht appeared as the faun, a cartoonish character that leaps and crawls about with wit and wildness. Kudos to Santo Loquasto for scenery and costumes. His design contributions to the dance community are vast. And, kudos to Maestro Karoui.

New York City Ballet
in Balanchine's "The Four Temperaments".
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik.

Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar
in Jerome Robbins' "The Four Seasons".
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik.

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