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New York City Ballet: Two Hearts, Year of the Rabbit, Les Carillons
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New York City Ballet: Two Hearts, Year of the Rabbit, Les Carillons

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Two Hearts
Year of the Rabbit
Les Carillons

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, Dena Abergel
Orchestra, Interim Music Director, Andrews Sill
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
October 5, 2012

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

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: Clotilde Otranto, Singer: Dawn Landes, Performed by Tiler Peck, Tyler Angle, and the Company.

Although I was not impressed with this Millepied ballet on first viewing, it was visually more enticing tonight. Yet the macabre Nico Muhly score, sung by Dawn Landes, remained annoying and distracting. Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle shone brightly in Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte’s chiaroscuro leotards, as they groped and grasped each other’s bodies in some form of dance. The slower passages had more focus, with some gravity testing choreography. The ensemble of twelve shifted about the stage, and finally Ms. Peck leaped into Mr. Angle’s arms.

Year of the Rabbit (World Premiere) Music by Sufijan Stevens, Choreography by Justin Peck, Orchestration by Michael P. Atkinson, Costumes by Justin Peck, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Brandon Sterling Baker, Guest Conductor: Michael P. Atkinson, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Teresa Reichlen, Janie Taylor, Joaquin De Luz, Robert Fairchild, Craig Hall, and the Company.

Tonight’s World Premiere was a wonderful antidote to the previous work, and it was created by a young member of the Corps, Justin Peck, a rising choreographic star. Mr. Peck collaborated with Sufijan Stevens, a singer-songwriter, whose “Enjoy Your Rabbit” is influenced by the Chinese zodiac. Michael Atkinson, tonight’s Conductor, rearranged the score just for this ballet. We were lucky to have him in the pit with the orchestra, as the music was transporting. The work is divided into “Year of the Ox”, “Year of the Rabbit”, “Year of the Tiger”, “Year of the Dragon”, “Year of the Rooster”, “Year of Our Lord”, and “Year of the Boar”. Each segment was led by a different or differently arranged solo dancer, couple, or trio. In all but one segment, the Corps ensemble was not only included, it was often the star.

Ashley Bouder led the ensemble in the first segment, with propulsive motion, while Joaquin De Luz led the ensemble in the second. In each segment, the ensemble was featured as strikingly as the solo. Teresa Reichlen and Robert Fairchild led the ensemble in the third, before the ensemble led the duo in surreal lift extensions. Ms. Bouder, Janie Taylor, and Craig Hall led the ensemble in the fourth, Ms. Reichlen and Mr. Fairchild led the fifth, Ms. Taylor and Mr. Hall danced a pas de deux in the sixth, and Ms. Bouder, Mr. De Luz, Ms. Reichlen, and Mr. Fairchild led the final seventh segment. I was so fascinated I could barely take notes, anticipating future viewings. The gestalt of this work was contemporary, often feeling like ballroom, rather than ballet. There was so much improvisational evocation, so much kaleidoscopic imagery, and so much light, that my eyes were riveted to the stage. Kudos to Mr. Peck, Mr. Stevens, Mr. Atkinson, Mr. Baker, Mr. Happel, and the cast. I look forward to a more nuanced viewing of this work in the near future.

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, Conductor: Daniel Capps, Performed by Ana Sophia Scheller, Sterling Hyltin, Maria Kowroski, Lauren Lovette, Tiler Peck, Amar Ramasar, Robert Fairchild, Tyler Angle, Daniel Ulbricht, and Gonzalo Garcia.

The Bizet Suites from “L’Arlésienne are intoxicating. To follow a World Premiere, a ballet must be exemplary on its own, and Wheeldon’s Les Carillons is a masterpiece. There were so many shifting configurations, drama flowed in a plotless ballet. Grey and white became brown and gold in Mary Louise Geiger’s lighting and backdrop. Even the costumes shifted colorful shadows as the piece unfolded. Amar Ramasar danced with nuanced gesture and refinement. Ana Sophia Scheller danced with ebullience, while merging with the ensemble. Ms. Scheller is fast becoming a gleaming and glittering ballerina, who radiates throughout. Robert Fairchild was bold and dashing, while Daniel Ulbricht danced with gallant enthusiasm. Sterling Hyltin was more subdued than usual, appropriate to this work, as she flowed into the musicality with serenity. Each of the remaining dancers was imbued with vivaciousness and luminosity.

Flute and saxophone reach above the orchestral blending, and the music often became its own show. Lead dancers sometimes enveloped the ensemble, showcasing Mark Zappone’s eye-catching costumes, 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 rapturous and resonant repetitions. Of special note is the male ensemble choreography of assisted turns and lifts, while using each other’s arms for support. This ballet is a visual and musical feast, à là Française. Kudos to Christopher Wheeldon and tonight’s cast.

Teresa Reichlen in
Justin Peck's "Year of the Rabbit"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

The Company in
Justin Peck's "Year of the Rabbit"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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