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New York City Ballet: Concerto Barocco, Les Carillons, The Concert

- Onstage with the Dancers

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New York City Ballet
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Concerto Barocco
Les Carillons
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
February 2, 2012

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Andrews Sill

Concerto Barocco (1948): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach (Double Violin Concerto in D Minor), Chorography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violinists: Nelly Kim and Wei Yi Wang, Performed by Abi Stafford, Teresa Reichlen, Justin Peck, and the Company.

Abi Stafford substituted for Rebecca Krohn and was physically mismatched with Teresa Reichlen for the lengthy mirror image duos. She was also emotionally mismatched for the gravitas of this work, as was Justin Peck, who seemed detached. Ms. Stafford danced with stiff arms, an awkward presentation. Ms. Reichlen was intensely and elegantly in the moment, especially as her long limbs wound up and over ensembles of dancers. Each time I view this Balanchine gem, it brings new visions. Tonight I found it lovely, pure, and silken, like the tutus. Ms. Stafford and Ms. Reichlen were also on differing tempos and timing, but that’s the nature of the choreography. Ms. Reichlen, in her duos with Mr. Peck, was compelling. The Bach score is uplifting and remains in the mind for days.

Les Carillons (2012): Music by Georges Bizet (L’Arlésienne Suites No. 1 & 2), Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Mark Zappone, Scenery by Jean-Marc Puissant, Lighting by Mary Louise Geiger, Performed by Sara Mearns, Wendy Whelan, Maria Kowroski, Ana Sophia Scheller, Tiler Peck, Amar Ramasar, Robert Fairchild, Tyler Angle, Daniel Ulbricht, Gonzalo Garcia.

Mr. Wheeldon created another new masterpiece here, and it’s a shame he no longer has his own company to constantly showcase his repertoire. So many duos, so many shifts in visual structure and dramatic presentation. The lighting, by Mary Louise Geiger, was silken, as grey and white became brown and gold. There were shiny effects of color in patches of backdrop. Amar Ramasar partnered Sara Mearns with exquisite attention to momentary gestures, such as tiny wrist turns and theatrical posture. They were classy and poised. Daniel Ulbricht partnered Ana Sophia Scheller with ebullience and seamless ensemble work, as Mr. Ulbricht was not required to seize the stage, as usual. Ms. Scheller shone with luminosity. Robert Fairchild partnered Wendy Whelan, in adagio surrealism. Of note is the vivacious and melodic Bizet score from Daudet’s play, “L’Arlésienne”. I remember vividly a long ago trip to Arles, with its umbrella shaped walkways of bended trees, so like the paintings of Van Gogh.

Gonzalo Garcia partnered Tiler Peck, who remains for a solo. Flute and saxophone reach above the orchestral blending, and the music often became its own show. Tyler Angle partnered Maria Kowroski, sometimes enveloping an ensemble of dancers. The costumes by Mark Zappone were eye-catching, with men in leotards that uncovered one arm. The silk on the man’s costume matched color with his partner. Each passage was mesmerizing and abstract, with the pas de deux of Ms. Mearns and Mr. Ramasar rapturous and resonant. Mr. Ulbricht’s triple en air turns merged into the moment, with no special showcase. Of special note is the male ensemble choreography of assisted turns and lifts, while using each other’s arms for support. There was no explicit story or meaning, it seemed, but a visual and musical feast, à là Française.

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, Pianist: Cameron Grant, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Andrew Veyette, Amanda Hankes, Daniel Applebaum, Cameron Dieck, Troy Schumacher, Joshua Thew, Marika Anderson, Ashley Laracey, Brittany Pollack, and the Company.

For the final surprise of the evening, Cameron Grant assumed the campy pianist role, usually reserved for Nancy McDill. Mr. Grant dutifully dusted the onstage piano with the powdery cloth and chased dancers in butterfly wings with his net. He was a good sport, although Ms. McDill is a natural. For the record, his musical accompaniment, of unlisted Chopin solo piano works, was quintessentially eloquent. Once again Maria Kowroski danced the role of the flirt in the hats, and Andrew Veyette is the cigar-chomping married man who chases her. Amanda Hankes took the role of the jealous wife, and this was something new. Her dramatic wit was perfect to the action.

Robbins’ The Concert is based on the notion of the listener’s habit of daydreaming, when attending a concert, and, here, the characters become butterflies, people caught in rain with look-alike umbrellas, the flirt stealing the wife’s chair, with the flirt then losing her own, the flirt trying on hats and choosing a blue feathery one, and lots of witty scampering and even a slow walk with a knife, all in fun. The more one sees this work, the more one anticipates each scene, with the corps in cartoonish glasses, like classical music buffs taking their seats in the theater. Kudos to all.

Tyler Angle, Maria Kowroski,
Amar Ramasar, Sara Mearns,
Robert Fairchild, Wendy Whelan,
Daniel Ulbricht in Wheeldon's
"Les Carillons"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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