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New York City Ballet: Sophisticated Lady, The Infernal Machine, Purple, Hallelujah Junction, West Side Story Suite
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New York City Ballet: Sophisticated Lady, The Infernal Machine, Purple, Hallelujah Junction, West Side Story Suite

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Sophisticated Lady
The Infernal Machine
Hallelujah Junction
West Side Story Suite

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 18, 2013

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Andrews Sill

Sophisticated Lady (1988): Music by Duke Ellington, Orchestrated by Andre Kostelanetz, Choreography by Peter Martins, Gentlemen’s Costumes by Karinska, Miss Kowroski’s dress by Valentino, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Robert Fairchild, and the Male Corps.

What a delight to discover this rare work by Peter Martins, with Maria Kowroski in the role every woman would die for. She arrives in a sensational, bright red dress, designed by Valentino, and she’s partnered by the chivalrous, ebullient Robert Fairchild, plus an ensemble of sixteen men in formal attire. There’s a Busby Berkeley style to this extravaganza, with men rushing to and fro, lining up for Ms. Kowroski, in filmatic style. The Duke Ellington score, orchestrated by Andre Kostelanetz, was lush and stirring. Most importantly, the audience swooned, loving the moment.

The Infernal Machine (2002): Music by Christopher Rouse, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Catherine Barinas, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Ashley Laracey and Amar Ramasar,

I had not recalled this Martins ballet and was thrilled to see it tonight. The ever magnetic Amar Ramasar partnered a poised rising star, Soloist, Ashley Laracey, in this atonal, angular, searing piece. The shapes of the dancers were striking, in Mark Stanley’s glowing spotlight in the darkness, with Catherine Barinas’ elegantly effective costumes. Mr. Ramasar and Ms. Laracey were technically flawless in their layers of visual imagery and sensuality. Kudos to Christopher Rouse for the electrically charged score.

Purple (1987): Music by Michael Torke, Choreography by Peter Martins, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Janie Taylor and Jared Angle. In this almost all-Martins program tonight, I looked forward to revisiting Purple, which I had only seen at a 2008 Dancer’s Choice event. At that time, Ms. Taylor was partnered by the riveting Craig Hall. Tonight, with Jared Angle, the imagery was still intriguing, but there was less chemistry. More than romantic, Purple is intense and erotic, with edge and glowing motion. A dark blue backdrop plays against the purple unitards. This ballet should be seen more often.

Hallelujah Junction (2001): Music by John Adams, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Kirsten Lund Nielsen, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Duo Pianists: Cameron Grant and Susan Walters, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Gonzalo Garcia, Daniel Ulbricht, Lauren King, Erica Pereira, Brittany Pollack, Lauren Lovette, Daniel Applebaum, Allen Peiffer, David Prottas, and Troy Schumacher.

Once again, Hallelujah Junction was a crowd pleaser, with the exact same musicians and cast as a few nights ago. However, no two live ballets are ever the same, and one always experiences surprises, especially when viewing from different vantage points in the hall. Tonight, Daniel Ulbricht, the lead soloist for this ballet, executed extremely high kicks and dizzying fouettés that brought vocal audience delight. His muscularity, this season, is even more remarkable than ever. Gonzalo Garcia and Sterling Hyltin enhanced tonight’s duo performance with extra flourishes and exuberance, such as tiny sideway kicks en air. The chiaroscuro imagery was energized. Cameron Grant and Susan Walters brought this John Adams score to life on the rear twin pianos, with exceptional speed and vibrancy.

Kudos to Peter Martins for his choreography in these four spellbinding ballets.

West Side Story Suite (1995): Music by Leonard Bernstein, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Scenery by Oliver Smith, Costumes by Irene Sharaff, Original Book by Arthur Laurents, Co-Choreographer: Peter Gennaro, Guest Singers: Rob Lorey, Lara Marie Hirner, Jane Brockman, Julie Price, Whitney Webster, Performed by Chase Finlay as Tony, Robert Fairchild as Riff, Amar Ramasar as Bernardo, Jenifer Ringer as Anita, Faye Arthurs as Maria, Gretchen Smith as Rosalia, and the Company as The Jets, Their Girls, and The Sharks, Their Girls. Jerome Robbins updated Romeo and Juliet to a New York time and venue, and brought in Bernstein, Laurents, and Sondheim as collaborators. (NYCB Notes).

This rare five-ballet program, on a non-gala night, brought back Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite to end the evening with joyful musicality. The company was resplendent, with Chase Finlay reprising his role as Tony, a Jet, who falls in love with Maria, from the Puerto Rican half of the cast. This Robbins take on Romeo and Juliet, synthesized from his Broadway choreography for West Side Story, incorporates the Bernstein score with high-spirited results. Robbins’ oeuvre has been reviewed almost each City Ballet season, and yet I never tire of seeing it anew. The role of Maria, here, is minor, and Faye Arthurs has been dancing it for years with aplomb. Robert Fairchild was Riff tonight, a singing role as well. His vocals for “Cool” were filled with Broadway tonality and style. The role of Anita, Bernardo’s girlfriend, is also a singing role, and tonight Jenifer Ringer reprised her interpretation with sizzle and swivel. This is a role she owns. Gretchen Smith, once again singing and dancing as Rosalia, with Ms. Ringer in the Anita-Rosalia-Latina number, “America”, was sexy and sultry. Chase Finlay has grown into the role of Tony, and his pursuit of Maria was filled with pathos. The knife fights were astounding, with Amar Ramasar reprising his role as Bernardo, Leader of the Sharks. His quick turn of the head summoned the gang instantaneously, and his fights with Riff and the Jets were lifelike and intense. Kudos to Jerome Robbins.

Chase Finlay in
Jerome Robbins' "West Side Story Suite"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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