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New York City Ballet: Allegro Brillante, Russian Seasons, Zakouski, Stravinsky Violin Concerto
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New York City Ballet: Allegro Brillante, Russian Seasons, Zakouski, Stravinsky Violin Concerto

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Allegro Brillante
Russian Seasons
Stravinsky Violin Concerto

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 7, 2012

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Guest Conductor: George Manahan

Allegro Brillante (1956): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano Solo: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Megan Fairchild, Andrew Veyette, and the Company. The Tschaikovsky “Third Piano Concerto" was first written as a symphony and then altered to include piano and orchestra. Balanchine said that this ballet "contains everything I know about the classical ballet in 13 minutes". (NYCB Notes).

This perfumy, powdery ballet, with elegant solos and extended pas de deux, was a showcase for Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette, onstage and offstage partners. Tschaikovsky's score builds in momentum and magic, and Elaine Chelton and the eight ensemble dancers, including the mesmerizing Adrian Danchig-Waring and Craig Hall, provided depth and delicious drama to this uncluttered, eye-catching work.

Mr. Veyette was in fine form here partnering Ms. Fairchild, in this not-seen-often-enough Balanchine plum, the most fascinating feature of which is the opening curtain, with eight corps dancers in partnered choreography, already in progress. As the ensemble’s turns and kicks wind down, as if we have happened onto a private party, Mr. Veyette and Ms. Fairchild present joyful exuberance, purposeful poise, and determined balance. Mr. Veyette also partners Lauren King, Ashley Laracey, Megan LeCrone, and Lydia Wellington Tschaikovsky’s third piano concerto had been a symphony, but the composer re-crafted “the first movement into a concert piece for piano and orchestra” (NYCB Notes). This score is rapturous and glowing, and lines of performers fashion ornamented shapes that rivet the eye. Ms. Fairchild explodes with energy, and Mr. Veyette, seeming twice her size, is virtuosically matched to her physicality. He was gallant, chivalrous, and joyful. Together they lit up the theater.

Russian Seasons (2006): Music by Leonid Desyatnikov, Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Costumes by Galina Solovyeva, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violin Soloist: Kurt Nikkanen, Mezzo-Soprano: Irina Rindzuner, Performed by Megan Fairchild, Sara Mearns, Wendy Whelan, Alina Dronova, Ana Sophia Scheller, Abi Stafford, Jared Angle, Antonio Carmena, Adam Hendrickson, Amar Ramasar, Jonathan Stafford, and Sean Suozzi. Leonid Desyatnikov takes recordings and text from "Traditional Music from the Russian Lake District" and creates four concertos, each having three movements. He uses string orchestra, solo violin, and female voice, while exploring life experiences in this composition. (NYCB Notes).
This 2006 Ratmansky work has developed in the past six years with nuance and occasional campy attitude. Wendy Whelan was radiant and ebullient, arching her pelvis in Graham-like motif, and Amar Ramasar exuded drive and poignancy. Sara Mearns was exquisite, thrusting her hands forward. The dancing was compelling, with partners in Galina Solovyeva’s same-colored costumes and caps, such as burgundy, gold, green, and purple. Mezzo-Soprano, Irina Rindzuner, sang Leonid Desyatnikov's chamber piece (influenced by Shostakovich and Vivaldi), while Kurt Nikkanen provided detailed violin solos that enunciated Desyatnikov's dissonant design.

The twelve segments of this Ratmansky ballet are differentiated with twelve lyrical motifs, including romance, war, and, perhaps, the afterlife (white costumes). Ana Sophia Scheller was studied and elegant, while Jared Angle did not miss a beat, presenting his usual intensity and focus. Sean Suozzi, in the seventh segment, was also in excellent form. In the twelfth segment, with Mr. Angle partnering Ms. Whelan, in white (peasant dress and flowered tiara), the ensemble came together with force. It was amazing that Megan Fairchild made a repeat performance here, after the energized, earlier piece. I’d like to see Ms. Scheller and Mr. Suozzi each in more lead roles.

Zakouski (1992): Music by Sergei Rachmaninoff (Vocalise), Igor Stravinsky (from opera Mavra), Sergei Prokofiev (Cinq Melodies, No. 4), and Peter I. Tschaikovsky (Valse-Scherzo), Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Barbara Matera, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violin: Arturo Delmoni, Piano: Nancy McDill, Performed by Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz. “Zakouski” is the word for hors d’oeuvres in Russian. This work covers the emotionality of the four short works by four Russian Composers. Rachmaninoff eventually made his home in the US and performed in concerts and recitals and recordings in this country. (NYCB Notes).

Another vivacious pas de deux was on the program, this by Peter Martins from 1992. Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz brightened the stage with sparkling wit, expanded by the incandescent piano (Nancy McDill) and violin (Arturo Delmoni). The dancers take turns or combine to present takes on hors d’oeuvres (“zakouski” in Russian) of music by four Russian composers, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Tschaikovsky. The most renowned brief piece was the very romantic Rachmaninoff “Vocalise”. The curtain rose with Mr. Delmoni and Ms. McDill at stage left, on violin and piano, with brilliant mauve colorings in the costumes of the perfectly paired duet. Ms. Peck and Mr. De Luz began with the exotic music of “Vocalise”. I was mesmerized with Mr. Martins’ choreography. Ms. Matera's costumes, shimmering in color, with Mr. Stanley's evocative lighting, delivered a visual invitation to romance and reverie.
Mr. De Luz and Ms. Peck performed solos and duets to the four Russian works, with some signature Russian leg slapping and humorous motifs. Ms. Peck was theatrical and sensual, as she engaged the audience. She looked straight forward, gazing out, thoroughly enjoying her performance. Mr. De Luz is a treasure, with charisma, bravura technique, and attentive, playful partnering that entertain and entrance both audience and ballerina. Zakouski is one work that must be revisited for its texture and rhapsodies. Kudos to Mr. Delmoni and Ms. McDill for extraordinary musical interpretations.

Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky (Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major), Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Solo Violinist: Lydia Hong, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Sterling Hyltin, Sébastien Marcovici, Robert Fairchild, and the Company. Lydia Hong was a pleasant surprise in the violin solo, in this Concerto that’s a full concert, in itself.

The “Toccata” was danced by all four leads, with Mr. Marcovici and Rebecca Krohn strikingly spectacular, always in the rhythm, with captivating gestures and an adherence to the mood. Mr. Fairchild, as well, is a luxurious and captivating presence, especially in abstract Balanchine works. His pas de deux with Ms. Hyltin in “Aria II” was engaging and replete with mesmerizing shapes, but I kept wishing Ms. Hyltin would find her way into the psychic intent of the choreographer, not just the steps and style. The pas de deux of “Aria I”, with Ms. Krohn and Mr. Marcovici, was stirring, sophisticated, and studied. The “Capriccio” brought the full cast out for a thrilling finale. The Corps was extraordinary in synchronized, structured figures, balance, lifts, and presence.

The edginess is searing, enhanced by stirring violin solos. With a simple blue backdrop and black tights, extending below the slippers, Mr. Balanchine fashioned stark imagery for his four-movement work that was re-choreographed for the 1972 City Ballet Stravinsky Festival. In the “Toccata”, both couples lead an ensemble of sixteen: eight females and eight males. This ballet is replete with dynamic propulsion and daring partnering. It would be fascinating to see it cast, one time, with lead Corps debuts.

Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette in
Balanchine's "Allegro Brillante"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar
in Ratmansky's "Russian Seasons"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz
in Martins' "Zakouski"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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