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New York City Ballet: Jeu de Cartes, Two Hearts, Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3

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New York City Ballet
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Jeu de Cartes
Two Hearts
Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3

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
May 31, 2012

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Jeu de Cartes (1992): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by Peter Martins, Scenery and Costumes by Ian Falconer, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: George Manahan, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Robert Fairchild, Amar Ramasar, Daniel Ulbricht, and the Company. Stravinsky composed this score for the first Stravinsky Festival at the Met Opera, organized by Balanchine. Dancers represented the four card suits, and the joker led the dance. (NYCB Notes).

This 1992 Martins work, scored to Stravinsky’s Jeu de Cartes (Card Game: A Ballet in Three Deals), has many elements of Balanchine’s Rubies, like pelvic bends, witty postures, knee bends to the side, and casual motion. Mr. Martins had been asked long ago by Balanchine to create an abstract version of his own more representational ballet with dancers dressed in the four suits of the cards, thus the later 1992 creation. Also, this ballet’s choreography seems to be an homage to Balanchine’s style, as mentioned above, and the dancers were in full spirit and pizzazz. This is a high-powered, rhythmic, entertaining, dervish ballet. There are tightly wound spins and elements of the 60’s twist. Sterling Hyltin, the sole female, was onstage almost throughout. The crème de la crème of male principals was here, and Daniel Ulbricht danced some en air scissors kicks that drew gasps. Amar Ramasar danced with muscular aplomb, and Robert Fairchild added theatrical charm and flair. Ian Falconer’s costumes and visual artistry were uniquely suited to enhance the experience.

Two Hearts (2012) Music by Nico Muhly, Commissioned by New York City Ballet, Choreography by Benjamin Millepied, Costumes by Kate & Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, Costumes Supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Roderick Murray, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Singer: Dawn Landes, Performed by Tiler Peck, Tiler Angle, and the Company.

This intense, but never surreal or persuasive new ballet, choreographed by Benjamin Millepied, was unnatural and disturbing. I rarely write this, but I have no desire to ever see it again. The questionable commissioned score, by Nico Muhly has macabre, grotesque lyrics and filmatic moodiness. For once, I was glad I have a slight hearing loss. Dawn Landes’ words were mostly unintelligible, but when they were clear, it was like accidentally turning on a sci fi horror movie. Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle’s black-white leotards by Marc Happel were the high point. Mr. Millepied’s choreography was evocative of young couples hiding in the shadows of a train station, grasping and groping. Only an adagio segment, with a push-pull motif, was minimally interesting. The ensemble arrives onstage alternately from the principals, and there’s some walking and shifting of position. When Ms. Peck finally jumped into Mr. Angle’s arms, I felt a sigh of relief.

Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 (1970): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery and Costumes by Nicolas Benois, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: George Manahan, Performed by Teresa Reichlen, Ask la Cour, Rebecca Krohn, Jared Angle, Ana Sophia Scheller, Adam Hendrickson, Ashley Bouder, Gonzalo Garcia, and the Company. In 1947, Balanchine produced “Theme and Variations” for Ballet Theater. Tschaikovsky composed Suite No. 3 in 1884, and it was premiered in 1885. Nicolas Benois, son of Diaghilev’s ballet designer, created scenery and costumes for Balanchine. (NYCB Notes).

This remarkable Balanchine ballet swept me off my feet, once again, with its iconic fourth movement, “Theme and Variations”, that often stands alone in galas and special events. The first movement of Tschaikovsky’s 1884 Suite No. 3 in G Major is “Élégie”, and here Balanchine brings the women’s hair down loosely, in Nicolas Benois’ rapturous gowns, as they dance barefoot like woodland sprites. The audience is breathlessly drawn in. This is an extreme vision, and it’s contrasted to the extreme fourth movement, with its formal, regal splendor and lifts, leaps, and bravura partnering. Teresa Reichlen and Ask la Cour were sumptuously partnered for the “Élégie”, while Ashley Bouder and Gonzalo Garcia were compellingly persuasive in “Theme and Variations”, wearing, respectively, a stiff tutu and a princely leotard.

Rebecca Krohn and Jared Angle were partnered in the second movement, “Valse Mélancolique”, while Ana Sophia Scheller and Adam Hendrickson led the third movement, “Scherzo”. The entire ballet is poetic and impassioned, and Mr. Garcia was well matched for the ebullient, confident Ms. Bouder. The earlier segments are luxurious in pastels and chiffon dreaminess, while the final segment is structured, synchronized, and balanced. The Corps exuded just the right affect, depending on the mood and moment. Kudos to Balanchine.

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