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New York City Ballet: Western Symphony, N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz, Glass Pieces

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Western Symphony
N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz
Glass Pieces

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
May 11, 2013

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Daniel Capps

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, Jonathan Stafford, 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).

This Balanchine homage to American Western entertainment is always entrancing. Rebecca Krohn and Jonathan Stafford opened the first movement of the Hershy Kay scored “Allegro” with sassiness and sensational presence. This excerpt is truly one of Mr. Stafford’s reliable successes, as he shines with glee and ebullience. The partnering here was well-matched, and this duo should dance together more often. In the Old Western costumes, with the ladies dressed as showgirls and the men as cowboys, thanks to Karinska in her hey-day, the cast seemed to have a rollicking great time. Megan Fairchild and Jared Angle led the “Adagio”, with Ms. Fairchild dancing en pointe sideways and backwards, as only she can do, with so much aplomb. Mr. Angle, as well, was in a great role for his unassuming style, as he caught the flying Ms. Fairchild in his arms, before he shook the invisible reins of his showgirl-drawn “carriage”. Teresa Reichlen and Andrew Veyette were also perfectly matched, with their virtuosity and warm personalities in full view. For the “Rondo”, Lauren Lovette was partnered by Allen Peiffer, and both were ingénue and elevated. Daniel Capps kept the Orchestra especially bubbly, and the finale, with the entire cast in fouettés and spins, as the curtain falls, was spirited and splendid.

N. Y. Export: Opus Jazz (1958): Music by Robert Prince, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Florence Klotz, Scenery by Ben Shahn, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Chase Finlay, Ashley Laracey, Georgina Pazcoguin, Justin Peck, Zachary Catazaro, Allen Peiffer, Taylor Stanley, Giovanni Villalobos, and the Company. This work was first performed in Spoleto, Italy, in June, 1958, by Jerome Robbins' Ballets. The choreography is illustrative of "the drives and coolness' of jazz steps". Robert Prince wrote music for Robbins and for Broadway. (NYCB Notes).

Robbins’ N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz was introduced to me years ago, in the Fall Gala, 2007, in a film excerpt with Craig Hall and Rachel Rutherford. They danced the “Passage for Two” on the edge of marshland, that’s now the High Line, a fully constructed park. Watching the full ballet tonight, I had flashbacks of that film, which I’d love to see in its entirety. Ashley Laracey and Chase Finlay danced that duo here and now, the fourth of five segments of this ballet, and I longed for that filmatic close-up, the high drama of it all. These two young dancers were romantically eager, conflicted, and eloquent in the roles. In “Statics”, which followed “Group Dance”, the Corps and Soloist ensemble (plus Mr. Finlay, a Principal) is in high school gym motif, sneakers, colorful shirts, and women in ponytails. Georgina Pazcoguin and Justin Peck were stunning and stark in their casual partnering, with Zachary Catazaro and Taylor Stanley mesmerizing in this segment as well. Both of these performers have exceptional stage presence and charisma. In fact, Mr. Stanley threw himself into this role with charm and intensity, maximizing the moment. This very urban work, with shoulder and hip gestures, snapping fingers, and black tights, to Robert Prince’s fused contemporary jazz, unfolds in new ways on each viewing.

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, Performed by Brittany Pollack, Daniel Applebaum, Lauren King, Joshua Thew, Lydia Wellington, Andrew Scordato, Wendy Whelan, Adrian Danchig-Waring, and the Company.

Just as N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz unfolds in new ways on each viewing, so too does Robbins’ Glass Pieces, scored to Philip Glass’ “Glassworks” and “Akhnaten”, both composed around the date of this ballet. Obviously, Mr. Robbins was enchanted by the repetitive three notes and haunting echoes of pulsating chords. In “Rubric”, the first segment, the ensemble of six, plus Corps, arrive against geometric squares, a rubric of black against a cream-colored backdrop. The six leads, dancing in three duos, in partnered unitards of the same pastel coloring, freeze and come together as the Corps disappears. Their dance is slower and connected, compared to the fast stride of the outer Corps. Lauren King and Joshua Thew drew my eye.

In “Facades”, an iconic and sensual pas de deux, Wendy Whelan and Adrian Danchig-Waring partnered with sensuality, gripping postures, and wing-like shoulders and arms. The “Akhnaten” finale has the male corps pulsing on its knees to the beat of heavy drums, arms held with muscular fists, before the women join in. In the finale Corps, Zachary Catazaro, Peter Walker, Sara Adams, and Lydia Wellington caught my eye.

Rebecca Krohn and Jonathan Stafford
in George Balanchine's "Western Symphony"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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