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New York City Ballet: Interplay, Tarantella, In Memory of…, DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse
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New York City Ballet: Interplay, Tarantella, In Memory of…, DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse

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New York City Ballet
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In Memory of…
DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse

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 1, 2012

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Interplay (1952): Music by Morton Gould, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Piano Solo: Alan Moverman, Performed by Sean Suozzi, Daniel Ulbricht, Lauren Lovette, Taylor Stanley, Ashley Laracey, Erica Pereira, Brittany Pollack, and Troy Schumacher. The original title for this music was American Concertette (1945). Gould’s Ballet works generally drew on American subject matter. Gould received a Grammy in 1965 for his recording of music by Charles Ives. Gould was a composer, arranger, and conductor and wrote in many genres. He conducted for New York City Ballet at the 1988 American Music Festival. He orchestrated Fall River Legend (Choreographed by Agnes de Mille) and Interplay. He also composed for Broadway, television and film. (NYCB Notes).

Robbins’ Interplay, with its opening “Free Play”, showcases the spring action of dancers’ limbs and feet, enhanced by the pizzazz of the Morton Gould score. Daniel Ulbricht and Taylor Stanley, in the cast, led by Sean Suozzi, were particularly propulsive. Mr. Suozzi is one of the most engaging and magnetic dancers in the Company. Mr. Ulbricht danced the solo, “Horseplay”, with electrifying balance and breadth of exuberance, followed by Lauren Lovette and Taylor Stanley in the slower, well matched, more severe “Byplay”. “Team Play”, danced to the same music as “Byplay”, in a variation of rhythm and tone, was buoyantly bright and sparkling with wit. Mr. Ulbricht has exact timing, persona, charisma, energy, and lightning spins.

The colorful motifs of the costumes, with white socks and black tights for the males, against the blue backdrop, are delightful. The high energy of this piece, which built in momentum, with snapping fingers and clapping body language, twists and turns mid-air, and leaps across the stage, intermittently concluded with coy groupings for sweet encounters. Andrews Sill conducted this work with buoyancy, and Alan Moverman drew attention to the keyboard solos, plus the dancers were at one with wild percussion and vibrant horns. The Morton Gould score evoked references to Gershwin and Copeland.

Tarantella (1964): Music by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Reconstructed and Orchestrated by Hershy Kay, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Piano Solo: Susan Walters, Performed by Ashley Bouder and Joaquin De Luz. This music is from Gottschalk's "Grande Tarantelle for Piano and Orchestra". Gottschalk was well known in the Nineteenth Century as a pianist and composer from Louisiana. He was praised by Chopin and toured Europe. Hershy Kay was an orchestrator and composer of Musicals and Ballets. The Tarantella is a classical dance with instantaneous spins and directional changes.(NYCB Notes).

After a pause, the energy from Robbins’ Interplay merged into the energy in Balanchine’s Tarantella. Maestro Sills was in the orchestral pit, once again, and Gottschaulk’s score, orchestrated by Hershy Kay, gave impetus to the ebullience of Ashley Bouder and Joaquin De Luz. Not that either principal needs a push. Ms. Bouder’s astonishing high open kicks, to the side, clapping her tambourine, were devilish and dynamic. Mr. De Luz had met his match, and both principals performed in their prime. One takes the stage, then the other, then both, and so on, outdoing each other’s wild dance-capades. Tarantella is a work the audience thrills to, with wide smiles every time.

In Memory of…(1985): Music by Alban Berg, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes by Dain Marcus, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Solo Violinist: Kurt Nikkanen, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Jared Angle, Ask la Cour, and the Company. Berg’s violin concerto was written in tribute to the late daughter of a friend, “dedicated to an angel”. The music is divided into three sections, depicting her life, her illness, and her “transfiguration”. (NYCB Notes)

Once again I was able to see Ask la Cour develop in this new role, due to the recent retirement of Charles Askegard. Mr. la Cour was regal, mesmerizing, studied in the moment, theatrical, gripping. He took the opportunity and ran with it, making it into a grander visual experience. Ms. Whelan, as always, danced with grace and glow, catching the eye immediately with her enchanting take on her own role as the afflicted young woman. When she let her hair down and “swam” in the air (a repetitive element in Robbins ballets), as she was carried aloft, the corps became angels. Kurt Nikkanen’s violin solos were sumptuous and searing. The corps danced in a warm glow, thanks to Jennifer Tipton’s lighting design.

DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse (2012): Music by Michael Nyman, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Scenery and Costumes by Jean-Marc Puissant, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Lighting recreated by Jesse Belsky, Conductor: Clotilde Otranto, Performed by Sara Mearns, Robert Fairchild, Megan Fairchild, Gonzalo Garcia, Wendy Whelan, Craig Hall, Tiler Peck, Andrew Veyette, and the Company.

Mr. Wheeldon rarely disappoints in choreographic amplitude, and tonight was no exception. This work, new to New York audiences (it premiered in London in 2006), is truly enervated and contemporary. Jean-Marc Puissant’s set evokes the London trains, and Michael Nyman’s score sounds like a speed rail roaring in. It was a surprise, something new, nothing like Wheeldon’s Carousel (A Dance), or After the Rain, or Morphoses. While it was surreal, it was driven, wild, cacophonous. Maestro Otranto mastered the challenging score with aplomb, in much the form as she had conducted Mr. Wheeldon’s Argentinean Estancia. Incredibly, Wendy Whelan re-appeared, after the previous lead role, partnered by Craig Hall, in ethereal elegance. Mr. Hall is one of the most fascinating members of the Company, always intense and magnetic. I wish he had more lead roles.

Sara Mearns and Robert Fairchild fed off each other’s dramatization, but one problem with this dance is distance. It was very hard to see individual dancers, as they are almost all rear stage in dimness. The train construction, that implodes near the end of the piece, overwhelms the performers. The ballet is thrilling, but no one dancer is able to achieve compelling momentum, with all the momentum merged through performers and scenery. Megan Fairchild was partnered by Gonzalo Garcia, and Tiler Peck was partnered by Andrew Veyette. These eight dancers are among la crème de la crème of virtuosity in the Company. I look forward to seeing this work again with a closer vantage point. Among the Corps, Taylor Stanley and Lauren Lovette managed to catch my eye.

Andrew Veyette, Tiler Peck,
Christian Tworzyanski in
Wheeldon's "DGV Danse à Grande Vitesse"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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