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New York City Ballet: Allegro Brillante, The Seven Deadly Sins, Vienna Waltzes

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Allegro Brillante
The Seven Deadly Sins
Vienna Waltzes

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, 2012

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Allegro Brillante (1956): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Piano Solo: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Tiler Peck, Amar Ramasar, 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).

It was a treat to see this effervescent ballet again this season, this time featuring Amar Ramasar and Tiler Peck. Mr. Ramasar danced with eager enthusiasm and charisma. Ms. Peck exuded lightness of foot (an airiness that was breathtaking), a glow from within, and a spinning motif in lightning speed. Mr. Ramasar bounced about in luxurious spirit, and, together, they played to each other’s dynamic strengths. Elaine Chelton, on piano, played the Tschaikovsky Concerto with incandescent clarity, surreal sensitivity, and acute timing. I noticed whenever Ms. Chelton plays, the audience always hears a little extra, with each piano soloist displaying his/her own virtuosity.

Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s “The Seven Deadly Sins” (Die sieben Todsünden), Ballet chante in nine scenes (2011): Music by Kurt Weill, Text by Bertolt Brecht, English Translation by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman, Arrangement for low voice by Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggeberg, Choreography and Direction by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Costumes by Judanna Lynn, Set Design by Beowulf Boritt, Lighting by Jason Kantrowitz, Guest Conductor: Paul Gemignani, Guest Artist: Patti LuPone as Anna 1, Performed by Wendy Whelan as Anna 2, Raymond Jarmillo McLeod as Mother, Eric Michael Gillett as Father, Kevin Early as Older Brother, Matthew Plenk as Younger Brother, Sara Mearns as Latina Diva, Justin Peck as Latin Lover, Craig Hall as Fernando, Vincent Paradiso as The Count, Giovanni Villalobos as The Senator, and the Company as The Shadows, Cabaret Dancers, Cabaret Johns, Latina Lovelies, The Crew, Male Models, Maids and Butlers, and various other roles.

This was my first experience with Lynn Taylor-Corbett’s The Seven Deadly Sins. Music is by Kurt Weill to a libretto by Bertolt Brecht, written in collaboration in 1933. Anna is a split personality, a singer and dancer, here portrayed by Patti LuPone (guest appearance) as Anna 1 and Wendy Whelan as Anna 2. This ballet was first performed in Paris in 1933, a production by George Balanchine. In 1958, Balanchine revived the ballet with singer, Lotte Lenya (Weill’s wife, who originated the role), and Allegra Kent as the dancer. (NYCB Notes). Frankly, I wish City Ballet had shown the audience the original Balanchine concept, as this Taylor-Corbett concept was so overly busy and disjointed. In fact, as much as I love to hear Ms. LuPone sing, and she’s truly in her prime, a native German chanteuse would have been superb, like Ute Lemper, whom I have reviewed twice in the past. And, she’s a Weill specialist.

The Family is cast with Raymond Jarmillo McLeod as Mother, Eric Michael Gillett as Father, Kevin Early as Older Brother, and Matthew Plenk as Younger Brother. Ms. Whelan, la crème de la crème of poignant character dancers, danced with fervor and grace throughout the Prologue, and then the Sins: Sloth, Pride, Anger, Gluttony, Lust, Greed, and Envy. Woven into these Sins are Andrew Scordato and ensemble as Shadows in Sloth, Corps dancers as Cabaret Dancers and Johns in Pride, Sara Mearns as a Latin Diva, Justin Peck as a Latin Lover, and a Latina Lovelies ensemble, with Director and Crew, in Anger, Lauren Lovette and ensemble as Stylist, plus Male Models., Craig Hall as Fernando, and Zachary Catazaro as Eduardo, all in Lust, and Vincent Paradiso as The Count with Giovanni Villalobos as The Senator in Greed.

Beowulf Boritt’s set includes the Louisiana home of the two Anna’s, and later some palm trees and more. Judanna Lynn’s costumes were best in the Latina scenes, and Jason Kantrowitz’ lighting shifted through each Sin. Ms. Taylor-Corbett’s choreography was driven and vaudevillian at times, making me wish all the more that we could have seen Balanchine’s 1958 creation. Kudos to Guest Conductor, Paul Gemignani, for keeping all the music organized from the pit.

Vienna Waltzes (1977): Music by Johann Strauss/Franz Lehár/Richard Strauss, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Performed by Teresa Reichlen, Jared Angle, Megan Fairchild, Joaquin De Luz, Ana Sophia Scheller, Sean Suozzi, Rebecca Krohn, Ask la Cour, Maria Kowroski, Sébastien Marcovici, and the Company.

After craving sumptuous in the previous work, just in time Balanchine’s Vienna Waltzes arrived. From the opening sight of Rouben Ter-Arutunian’s deep, green forest, that slowly becomes more iridescent and vivacious, before it morphs into a Viennese ballroom of mirrors and chandeliers, I cannot take my eye from the shifting stage. Teresa Reichlen and Jared Angle led the first segment to music of Johann Strauss II, and, at this point in the ballet, the dance is refined, romantic, and evocative of young lovers. Both Ms. Reichlen and Mr. Angle threw themselves into the mood, dancing with impassioned verve. The second segment was led by Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz, also to Strauss’ music. Their performance was exuberant and replete with elevation and lyricism. Ana Sophia Scheller and Sean Suozzi led the Strauss Explosions-Polka, and here’s where the style lightened, as well as Mark Stanley’s growing luminosity. Mr. Suozzi uncharacteristically donned a wild wig, and their campy, charged motion made them seem like fanciful sprites in the woodsy moonlight.

The Franz Lehár Gold und Silber Walzer, led by Rebecca Krohn and Ask la Cour, was warm, ebullient, and languorous. This duo is well matched physically, lanky and taut, and they were quite comfortable in the genre. For the full-mirrored, formal Ball, Maria Kowroski and Sébastien Marcovici appeared with the full cast, and this was now quite late into the evening. Ms. Kowroski and Mr. Marcovici added sparkle and scintillating maturity to the festive scene, and the full corps, in Karinska’s white gowns and black tuxes, shone brilliantly in Balanchine’s inventive masterpiece. Kudos to George Balanchine, and kudos to Maestro Sills.

Patti LuPone, Wendy Whelan, and Male Corps
in Taylor-Corbett's "The Seven Deadly Sins"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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