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New York City Ballet: Glass Pieces, Year of the Rabbit, Vienna Waltzes
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New York City Ballet: Glass Pieces, Year of the Rabbit, Vienna Waltzes

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Glass Pieces
Year of the Rabbit
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, 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
January 29, 2013

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Glass Pieces (1983): Music by Philip Glass, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Production Design by Jerome Robbins and Ronald Bates, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Conductor: Clotilde Otranto, Performed by Ashley Laracey, Chase Finlay, Lauren King, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Faye Arthurs, Christian Tworzyanski, Maria Kowroski, Sébastien Marcovici, and the Company.

With a backdrop of beige rubric, Jerome Robbins created a highly structured and silhouetted motif, evocative of the repetitive music that replays in the mind for days, after viewing this piece. Robbins used music from Philip Glass’ opera Akhnaten, as well as “Rubric” and “Facades” from “Glassworks”. The score from Akhnaten is hypnotic. Ashley Laracey and Chase Finlay led “Rubric”, with lovely, clear lines, between segments with shadowy, chiaroscuro dancers in black profile against the bright backdrop of the rubric. Mr. Finlay is perfectly poised for this bright spotlight, where the physique becomes the expression of the mesmerizing theme.

Maria Kowroski and Sébastien Marcovici led “Facades”, a slow, fascinating work that also highlights the Corps. Ms. Kowroski was attentively partnered by Mr. Marcovici, in slower, entrancing motion than the actual score. Ms. Kowroski’s motif matches the angularity of this choreography. At this point, the female Corps walks in silhouetted profile at stage rear. Akhnaten, with its percussive propulsion, brings out the full Corps, in bent, running motions, arms pulsing with the drums. It was amazing to see Justin Peck, a fast-rising choreographer, dancing here, just before his recent work is presented next. He dances with full muscularity and a feeling for the pulse. Gretchen Smith and Daniel Applebaum also caught my eye.

Year of the Rabbit (2012) 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, Conductor: Daniel Capps, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Teresa Reichlen, Janie Taylor, Joaquin De Luz, Robert Fairchild, Tyler Angle, and the Company.

There seemed to be a serious problem with the orchestra tonight, a weak sound, a lack of propulsive strength. They could have used an extra rehearsal with this marvelous Sufijan Stevens score. However, the ballet, itself, thanks to Justin Peck, a Corps dancer in the Company, is stunning. Year of the Rabbit is divided into seven signs of the Chinese zodiac begin with Ashley Bouder leading “Year of the Ox”, with soft, yet often explosive phrases. One of the most striking friezes is a gathering of the Corps and Principal, center stage, a motif used by Alvin Ailey and Bronislava Nijinska, with all their heads in the spotlight, like a kaleidoscope of faces. Mr. Ailey had focused on the hands in Revelations. In “Year of the Rabbit”, Joaquin De Luz led with strong attitude and triple en air turns, well cast for the role. He whipped his head side to side like a dashing rabbit.

In “Year of the Tiger”, Teresa Reichlen and Robert Fairchild danced with ingénue intrigue. “Year of the Dragon” is led by Ms. Bouder, Janie Taylor, and Tyler Angle, while “Year of the Rooster” brings back Ms. Reichlen and Mr. Fairchild. “Year of Our Lord” features Ms. Taylor and Mr. Angle, with magnetic, adagio languor. “Year of the Boar”, led by Ms. Bouder, Ms. Reichlen, Mr. De Luz, and Mr. Fairchild, was the final segment. The interesting geometrics of two Corps dancers enticing Ms. Reichlen and Mr. Fairchild is mesmerizing. Mr. Fairchild is athletic and charismatic, chivalrous and regal. Ms. Reichlen has a sense of serenity and seriousness. Her limbs take a life of their own.

This ballet is filled with fascinating atonal tempos, and a few women are carried offstage like goddesses. These are quotes from Robbins and Balanchine, who often added drama to partnered exits. The lighting is dramatic, as well, and at one point a brilliant red backdrop allowed for silhouetted soloists, echoing the previous Glass Pieces. Yet, in Mr. Peck’s sequence, there’s stillness, no music or sound. Another sequence has women leaping, in full trust, into a small ensemble of men, landing on one man’s arms, dashing into the wings.

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: Clotilde Otranto, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Tyler Angle, Megan Fairchild, Anthony Huxley, Erica Pereira, Sean Suozzi, Teresa Reichlen, Ask la Cour, Maria Kowroski, Jared Angle, and the Company. The waltz was first popular in the late 1700's, when it was banned for immoral closeness in dancing. Balanchine explored the form of waltz in his choreographies, intensely in this work. This was Balanchine's homage to the age of imperial grandeur. The music selected is associated with the transformation of the waltz through the years and across society. These were Karinska's last costumes for City Ballet. (NYCB Notes).

In such a full evening, it’s incredible that there was energy and time to mount Balanchine’s Vienna Waltzes I just sat back and enjoyed this frothy work. Clotilde Otranto conducted with her usual pizzazz, and the Orchestra was lit from her baton. The score combines J. Strauss, R. Strauss, and Lehar, and it transports the listener straight to the forests and ballrooms of Austria. The Company was in rare form in this most incandescent and radiant ballet. For those who love to see formally costumed dancers (ballerinas in ballroom shoes), twirling in the midnight forest, resplendent with dark green leaves and shadings, or in a Grand Ballroom, with tuxedoed waiters and endless champagne, and who love to hear a waltz by anyone named Strauss or Lehár, this expansive ballet, positioned after two contemporary-styled works, composed of five different dances, with five ensembles and five different changes of sets and costumes, is ballet heaven.

Rebecca Krohn was featured in the first woodland waltz, to music of Johann Strauss II, with the male dancers, in military uniforms, led by a gallant Tyler Angle. In the second dance, to music by the same composer, some of the trees were lifted to allow for spacious choreography, led by Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley. There was little chemistry there, unfortunately, but they danced with spark and verve. Erica Pereira and Sean Suozzi led the heavily wigged and foolishly costumed Polka, also to J. Strauss II, but they kept the beat vivacious. Then, dances to mirrors and chandeliers appeared, as the woodland sets slowly transformed into the Grand Ballroom.

The “gold and silver” fourth dance, to Franz Lehar’s music, was led by Teresa Reichlen and Ask la Cour, a rapturous duo. The final totally mirrored black-white ball was miraculous, with, it appeared, the entire Company, led by the featured Principals, plus Maria Kowroski and Jared Angle. Some dancers were poised as waiters at bistro tables, supporting dozens of champagne bottles. Rouben Ter-Arutunian and Mark Stanley (after Ronald Bates) are to thank for the pink, red, and gold visual décor. Kudos to Karinska, and kudos to Balanchine.

The Cast of Robbins' "Glass Pieces"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Theresa Reichlen and the Cast of
Peck's "Year of the Rabbit"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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