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New York City Ballet: Four by Four

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New York City Ballet
Four by Four
(NYC Ballet Website)

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children’s Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Fayçal Karoui
Managing Director, Communications, Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns
Manager, Press Relations, Joe Guttridge
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 16, 2008

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).
Guest Conductor: Andrews Sill

Ballo della Regina (1978): Music by Giuseppe Verdi, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Ben Benson, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Benjamin Millepied, Ashley Laracey, Erica Pereira, Kathryn Morgan, Ana Sophia Scheller, and the Company. Verdi's score was original ballet music for Don Carlos, but cut from the opera. It's a series of variations. (NYCB Notes).

In a series of duos and solos, Ashley Bouder was sprightly and seductive, matched by Benjamin Millepied’s persuasive partnering and propulsive spins. Splendid and sublime choreography added the classicism so inherent in this 1978 Balanchine jewel, and Ana Sophia Scheller caught my eye with her captivating and relishing solos. Erica Pereira, the ingénue in Romeo and Juliet, is certainly an artist to watch, as she dances with abandon and aplomb. Kathryn Morgan, often featured in Carousel, engaged her audience with contagious charm and melodious motion. Ashley Laracey is another corps member now seen in classical, flowing works, and, with Ms. Bouder, a dancer’s dancer, the showcased corps enhanced the youthful spontaneity and sharp imagery on display. The lush peach of the female costumes and the pale teal and white of Mr. Millepied’s costume contrasted with the contemporary teal-peach backdrop.

Liturgy (2003): Music by Arvo Pärt (Fratres, for Violin, Strings, and Percussion), Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violin Soloist: Arturo Delmoni, Performed by Wendy Whelan and Albert Evans. Part's composition is "inspired by the vision of a solemn procession of medieval candlelight...". (NYCB Notes).

Today’s Four by Four program is a tribute to four choreographers so important to City Ballet repertoire. Christopher Wheeldon, soon to leave City Ballet to concentrate on his own Company, Morphoses, has contributed numerous, lush, ethereal ballets to City Ballet, and Liturgy is one of the most renowned. The searing atonality of Arturo Delmoni’s solo violin set the stage for solemn, riveting partnering. Albert Evans has taken on the original Jock Soto roles, while Wendy Whelan remains the female force in this dim dance drama. Arms become up-stretched wings, swaying in silence, and Mr. Evans moved with rare rapture. Andrews Sill, Guest Conductor tonight, kept this challenging score taut and esoteric.

Les Gentilhommes (1987): Music by Georg Friedrich Händel, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Alain Vaes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Daniel Ulbricht, Tyler Angle, Antonio Carmena, Austin Laurent, David Prottas, Adam Hendrickson, Allen Peiffer, Amar Ramasar, and Sean Suozzi. I last saw this work at a School of American Ballet Workshop, and the performers were nine male students. Today’s cast of nine male City Ballet principals, soloists, and corps brought out the bravura potential of Peter Martins’ rhythmic variations, all coordinated to Händel’s buoyant score. Daniel Ulbricht, the sole principal and sensational star, led the ensemble in tour de force turns and twists, all in “gentlemanly demeanor”. The white simple costumes add regality and reveal the muscular rigor of the swift, soaring motion. Allen :Peiffer, recently seen as the Romeo to Erica Pereira’s Juliet, is an artist to watch, and Amar Ramasar has blossomed into one of the most mesmerizing dancers on stage at State Theater. His dance is now seamless and stunning.

Fancy Free (1944): Music by Leonard Bernstein, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Scenery by Oliver Smith, Costumes by Kermit Love, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Performed by David Prottas (Bartender), Tyler Angle, Daniel Ulbricht, Damian Woetzel (Sailors), Amanda Hankes, Tiler Peck, Briana Shepherd (Passers-by). This is one dance I never tire of, with its bouncy Bernstein score and Robbins’ (the fourth of today’s four choreographers) iconic Sailors and “Passers-by”. Today’s three sailors, Tyler Angle, Daniel Ulbricht, and Damian Woetzel, could not have been better. Mr. Ulbricht is ever engaging, ever upstaging himself in lyrical leaps and en air kicks, and ever surpassing gravitational assumptions. Damian Woetzel, who is soon moving on to dance administration, is still in rare, virtuosic form, and his smooth personality and charming character dance cannot be replicated. Tyler Angle has grown into this role with eager energy and spontaneity.

The Passers-by, Amanda Hankes (with her yellow dress and red pocketbook), Tiler Peck, and Briana Shepherd, each brought out new behavior and attitudes from the three sailors, but in sequential story lines. Tiler Peck, in purple, seemed especially suited to this Broadway styled dance, a she seduced her sailor with affection and conversation inside the infamous bar. Briana Shepherd, in blue, was the final ingénue, and the score re-played for days in my mind.

Kudos to all four choreographers.


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