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New York City Ballet: Fearful Symmetries, Afternoon of a Faun, Antique Epigraphs, The Concert
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New York City Ballet: Fearful Symmetries, Afternoon of a Faun, Antique Epigraphs, The Concert

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Fearful Symmetries
Afternoon of a Faun
Antique Epigraphs
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
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
May 19, 2011

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Fearful Symmetries (1990): Music by John Adams, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Steven Rubin, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Fayçal Karoui, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Chase Finlay, Tiler Peck, Taylor Stanley, Lauren King, Allen Peiffer, and the Company.

I was, before, unfamiliar with this work, and was caught off-guard by its stylistic aplomb. The John Adams score reminds one of Philip Glass, repetitive, building, hypnotic, and the three couples, plus three Corps males and a mixed male-female ensemble, bring life to the stage with perfect stretches, arms raised as in Balanchine’s Symphony in Three…, and shifting lines of dance direction. The colorful costumes by Steven Rubin highlight the fanciful motion. Sterling Hyltin was unfortunately lacking in stage persona, too inappropriately smiling, while Chase Finlay took the moment seriously, although not with much magnetism. Yet Mr. Finlay will surely grow into the many roles he’s assuming this season.

Tiler Peck and Taylor Stanley were perfectly poised, outstanding in strength, and magnetic to the eye. Both dancers are aware of stage presence and throw themselves psychically as well as physically into the mood. Ms. Peck propels herself about the stage with extraordinary momentum, battery-driven, while Mr. Stanley is an artist to watch. Lauren King, another artist to watch, is eloquent and fascinating, attentively partnered by Allen Peiffer. Among the Corps, Troy Schumacher was exceptional, always poised, balanced, and strong, while Christian Tworzyanski, Brittany Pollack, and Lauren Lovette all danced with noteworthy effect.

Afternoon of a Faun (1953): Music by Claude Debussy, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Scenery and Lighting by Jean Rosenthal, Costumes by Irene Sharaff, Conductor: Fayçal Karoui, Performed by Janie Taylor and Craig Hall. Debussy is known for "musical impressionism" and wrote a large repertoire of works for piano and for orchestra, including "Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune", 1892-94. (NYCB Notes).

As it turned out, I saw this work and the following work, the same middle two of four works, both tonight and last night. This is always a welcome scenario, as the second night one can watch in comfort, looking for nuance, gestures, a lighting or sound effect. As it turned out, as well, my seat was across the orchestra level, this time far left, so I was able to see Janie Taylor enter stage right, totally self-absorbed, spunky, brimming with youthful spirit. She stares at the audience (as we are the mirror in the dance studio) with fluid, dramatic enchantment. Mr. Hall, once again, was the faun, a dancer absorbed, as well, in introspective thought. Their chemistry is palpable, although Mr. Robbins staged this faun as less steamy and fervid than Nijinsky did. I’d love to see City Ballet re-create the Nijinsky version, juxtaposed on the same program with Mr. Robbins’. That would be quite a night.

Antique Epigraphs (1984): Music by Claude Debussy, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Florence Klotz, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Conductor: Fayçal Karoui, Flute Solo: Paul Dunkel, Performed by Rachel Rutherford, Sara Mearns, Savannah Lowery, Teresa Reichlen, Marika Anderson, Gwyneth Muller, Amanda Hankes, Gretchen Smith. Choreographed in seven sections, the first six are danced to an orchestrated version of "Six Epigraphes Antiques" and the seventh to "Syrinx", with unaccompanied flute. (NYCB Notes).

Once again, a second night for this Robbins-Debussy ballet duo brought out nuances and gestures I hadn’t noticed last night. Lauren Conwesser’s flute solo was elegant again, like an echo from Faun. The cast was the same, as well, and tonight I was absorbed in the choreography, rather than particular dancers, noticing the way a few dancers sit on the stage, watching as others dance. The visual effect of pastel gowns of flowing chiffon, cinched at the torso like Greek goddesses, is stunning. Robbins’ choreography allows for some individuality, even in the midst of ensemble frieze motifs. Sara Mearns and Teresa Reichlen, in particular, add some drama to the aura. Kudos to Fayçal Karoui, who handed the baton to Clotilde Otranto for the final work.

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: Clotilde Otranto, Pianist: Nancy McDill, Maria Kowroski, Andrew Veyette, Gwyneth Muller, Austin Laurent, Justin Peck, Allen Peiffer, Christian Tworzyanski, Ashley Laracey, Georgina Pazcoguin, Brittany Pollack, and the Company.

For this third Robbins piece, one of my favorites, the cast was the same as always. In fact, only Sterling Hyltin (appearing tonight) and Maria Kowroski (the alternating coquette) add any difference to the theatrics. Of course, Andrew Veyette, as the cigar-chomping husband with a wandering eye, and Gwyneth Muller, as his nagging, rejected wife, are iconic in their roles, but it would be fun to see some new casting, on occasion, especially from the Corps. Nancy McDill always arrives onstage first to “dust” the piano with powder and generate some laughs, setting the hilarious mood for the ensuing antics. The cast flutters about her piano with umbrellas and butterfly wings, and this particular ballet is enjoyed by children at frequent matinees.

Ms. Kowroski is the seductress nonpareil, and Mr. Veyette equals her stagecraft in an over the top ballet, so full of personality and humanity, like other Robbins ballets, think of Faun, above, and West Side Story Suite. Kudos to Jerome Robbins, and kudos to Ms. McDill and Maestro Otranto.

Janie Taylor and Craig Hall
in Robbins' "Afternoon of a Faun"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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