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New York City Ballet: Western Symphony, Symphony in Three Movements, Symphony in C

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Western Symphony
Symphony in Three Movements
Symphony in C

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
February 7, 2013

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Guest Conductor: Henrik Christensen

Western Symphony (1954): Music by Hershy Kay, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by John Boyt, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Taylor Stanley, Megan Fairchild, Jared Angle, Teresa Reichlen, Andrew Veyette, Lauren Lovette, Allen Peiffer, and the Company. Some of the American folk songs in this ballet are “Red River Valley”, “Good Night Ladies”, and “Rye Whiskey”. (NYCB Notes).

There’s nothing more festive to begin a winter evening program than Balanchine’s homage to Western cowboys and showgirls, his 1954 Western Symphony. Hershy Kay’s orchestrations of “Red River Valley”, “Good Night Ladies”, and a variety of folk dance tunes are rousing and sentimental. Tonight’s “Allegro” leads were Rebecca Krohn and Taylor Stanley, who wore that large cowboy hat previously seen on Albert Evans, Nilas Martins, and Jonathan Stafford. Mr. Stanley exuded dry humor, class, and instantaneous spins. Ms. Krohn is always appealing and vivacious. The “Adagio” was led by Megan Fairchild and Jared Angle. Ms. Fairchild has this role down pat, with sweet smiles, coy gestures, and backward and sideway, rapid pointe steps. Mr. Angle partnered with attention and charm. But, it was the “Rondo” that drew my gaze, with Teresa Reichlen and Andrew Veyette in adorable agility, dizzying fouettés, and astounding athleticism. Lauren Lovette and Allen Peiffer were featured with lovely lyricism, and the Corps in Karinska’s black cowboy costumes and brightly colored ruffles was exceptional.

Symphony in Three Movements (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Savannah Lowery, Tiler Peck, Amar Ramasar, Andrew Scordato, Daniel Ulbricht, and the Company.

This all-Balanchine, all-Symphonic scored program continued with Symphony in Three Movements, to Stravinsky’s collaborative score. The leads were Sterling Hyltin, Amar Ramasar, Savannah Lowery, Andrew Scordato, Tiler Peck, and Daniel Ulbricht. Toward the end of each season, it’s noticeable that Corps and Soloists are mixed with Principals in remaining ballets, and it’s always refreshing to see this mix of new faces in debut roles. Ms. Lowery held her own, as she’s grown quite balanced and confident this season. In the next season, she could work on adding that spark that glows from within. Speaking of spark, Ms. Peck was thrilling in her solos, but the Orchestra, under Guest Conductor, Henrik Christensen, was a bit squeaky. Georgina Pazcoguin, in the Corps, caught my eye, with her attitude, intensity, and deep glare. Mr. Ramasar and Ms. Hyltin were perfectly partnered for dazzle. Mr. Ulbricht was never so propulsive, although I write that every season, as this dynamo is made of bouncing iron.

The brilliantly appropriate leotards and tights create the vision of assemblages of dancers in stark white, in white/black, and in all black, with soloists in shades of pink. The opening bars of Stravinsky's percussive, dissonant score are heard against the image of a diagonal formation of female soloists in white. Thanks to Mark Stanley, the lighting exudes a fluorescent-like feeling in the opening scene. The male dancers, in the first movement, managed to leap sideways, legs in perfect formation, bent upwards, as if they had no connection to the hips. The Company performed with superb timing and agility, ecstatic elevation, lightning leaps, and seasoned technicality.

The second movement, with solos by Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar, is brilliantly fashioned, enhancing the image of Mr. Ramasar’s dexterity, as he partnered Ms. Hyltin, while Stravinsky's dynamic tones drove the momentum. The wing-like arm position of the showcased duo here is always striking. The third movement combines all the colors, all the dancers, and all the brilliant force of Balanchine's work.

Symphony in C (1948): Music by Georges Bizet, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Abi Stafford, Chase Finlay, Maria Kowroski, Tyler Angle, Erica Pereira, Anthony Huxley, Lauren King, Taylor Stanley, and the Company.

The audience gasped when the recently created, Swarovski-decorated costumes were revealed behind the open curtain. They had been designed for the Spring 2012 Season, and on seeing them again, it was just like the first time. Kudos immediately to Marc Happel, who also created crowns, headpieces, and earrings of Swarovski sparkling crystal. The music is always hypnotic, as each movement of this Bizet “Symphony in C” is introduced by pulsating refrains, as new leads are introduced, rear stage. These repetitive and rapturous phrases are contagious and cohesive, as each of the four movements builds upon the earlier one.

Abi Stafford and Chase Finlay tore into the “Allegro Vivo” with joy abounding. The tutus sparkled brightly to the bouncy score, juxtaposed to the men in black. Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle captured the etherealness of the “Adagio”, with effortlessly partnering and seasoned timing. Ms. Kowroski was exotic and filled with poise and drama, in this sensual role. Erica Pereira and Anthony Huxley had little chemistry, but presented the “Allegro Vivace” movement’s inherent coltishness in their prancing, leaping, and cavorting. Lauren King and Taylor Stanley brought up the “Allegro Vivace” finale with glow and spirit. The Company was in great form, scintillating and synchronized. Kudos to George Balanchine for tonight’s trio of magnificent, symphonic ballets.

Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar
in Balanchine's "Symphony in Three Movements"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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