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New York City Ballet: Serenade, Red Angels, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Firebird
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New York City Ballet: Serenade, Red Angels, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Firebird

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Serenade
Red Angels
Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux
Firebird

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
www.lincolncenter.org

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 21, 2013


(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Serenade (1948): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, new Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: Leif Bjaland, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Rebecca Krohn, Sara Mearns, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Jonathan Stafford, and the Company. Set to Tschaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings”, this was Balanchine's first ballet choreographed in America. (NYCB Notes)

It’s always interesting to hear a familiar score, here Tschaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings”, when a guest conductor is in the pit. Tonight Leif Bjaland led the Orchestra in this sumptuous musicality, with heart rending refrains. Karinska’s costumes of pale blue tulle are enchanting, especially with Mark Stanley’s inner stage glow. Ashley Bouder, in her solo, swooped about the stage, legs extending sideways, leaps abounding. She put her rapid jumps at risk, but was the essence of youthful spiritedness. Sara Mearns danced with lush, warm vibrancy and intense theatrics, filling out each musical phrase with accented gestures and mood. Ms. Mearns’ partner, Jonathan Stafford, seemed spiritually passive, in Ms. Mearns’ shadow, but he was attentive and in sync with the deep rhythm. Adrian Danchig-Waring is always striking in his poise and posture, and here he drew me in. He is a stately, serious dancer with regal affect, perfect for this Balanchine masterpiece.

But, it’s the female Corps that stands out for serene, surreal imagery, and in the opening phrases, when the Corps simultaneously moves feet sideways, locked at the heels, and simultaneously moves one arm to the rafters, together, at the same angle, the audience audibly gasps. Balanchine created this piece when he first emigrated to New York, and its inspiration was an actual rehearsal, so a Corps dancer falls, a dancer arrives late and finds her spot and position, a dancer blindfolds a man, and leads him onstage. The drama and motifs are subtle and spellbinding. Kudos to all, especially to the Corps.


Red Angels (1994): Music by Richard Einhorn (“Maxwell’s Demon”), Choreography by Ulysses Dove, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Electric Violin: Mary Powell, Performed by Teresa Reichlen, Jennie Somogyi, Jared Angle, and Amar Ramasar.

Ulysses Dove’s Red Angels, contemporary and lyrical, was danced by Jennie Somogyi, Teresa Reichlen, Jared Angle, and Amar Ramasar, in Holly Hynes’ red unitards. The score was Richard Einhorn’s stark “Maxwell’s Demon”, played by Mary Powell on electric violin. Ms. Somogyi and Ms. Reichlen are both muscular and intense, perfectly matched here in physique and psyche. Their scissors-sharp kicks were split-timed and stunning. Mr. Angle and Mr. Ramasar exuded rippling muscularity, features that shone in this magnetizing work. In fact, Mr. Ramasar is one of the most fascinating male dancers on stage in New York. Each dancer moved in and out of spotlights with lightning effect.


Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux (1960): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Clotilde Otranto, Performed by Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette. This music, not published with the original ballet score, was originally intended for the Act III Black Swan Pas de Deux, but was first found by the Tschaikovsky Foundation of New York and subsequently scored for this pas de deux by Balanchine in 1960. (NYCB Notes).

It’s always thrilling to see real life partners in a virtuosic Pas de Deux, and that’s what we were watching here. There was chemistry, charisma, and charm on display for this Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux. Both Andrew Veyette and Megan Fairchild were energized and endearing in this high quality performance. There was total trust, when Ms. Fairchild leapt into Mr. Veyette’s arms. Mr. Veyette spun endlessly, amidst his buoyant, confident leaps and turns. Clotilde Otranto kept the Orchestra vibrant for this very brisk score. Karinska’s costumes are resplendent, for this Russian-styled brio.


Firebird (1949): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, Scenery and costumes designed by Marc Chagall (1945), Scenery executed by Volodia Odinokov, Costumes executed by Karinska, Firebird costume supervised by Dain Marcus, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: Leif Bjaland, Performed by Maria Kowroski as Firebird, Jonathan Stafford as Prince Ivan, Zachary Catazaro as Kastchei the Wizard, Savannah Lowery as Prince’s Bride, and the Company as Maidens, Youths, and Subjects. Balanchine’s Firebird was one of his earliest creations for NYC Ballet that used such elaborate costumes and sets. Russian folklore is integrated in this ballet. Balanchine used Stravinsky’s orchestral suite instead of the three-act score. In 1970, Chagall came to NYC to supervise the new costumes and sets for a new production, and Robbins contributed some new choreography. This newer production was staged in 1985. (NYCB Notes).

The guest conductor Leif Bjaland returned to the pit for this beckoning Stravinsky score. In fact, as the strings stir, and the 1945 Chagall backdrops are revealed, lit luminously by Mark Stanley, the hall was stone silent. There is no Firebird at City Ballet like Maria Kowroski. She exudes both vulnerability and verve, speed and serenity, elegance and electricity. Her toss of her head, her rippling arms, her feathered flourishes are both radiant and provocative. Prince Ivan, Jonathan Stafford stepping in for Ask la Cour, was dancing one of his finest roles. Mr. Stafford is a natural as the Prince, wandering through the trees, looking for his Bride (Savannah Lowery), and fending off Kastchei the Wizard (Zachary Catazaro). When he discovers the Firebird, he seems truly enchanted and filled with wonder. Mr. Stafford is also well matched to Savannah Lowery, an unassuming Soloist, who has grown immeasurably in recent years, with a charming demeanor.

The Maidens, Youths, Subjects, and interspersed Corps in horse and other animal costumes were all animated and fervent in their ensemble dramatics. At Ivan’s Wedding scene, the colorful Chagall costumes and masks are worthy of a children’s film, as the Company is so imaginative and entertaining. This season’s Firebird performances are dedicated to Maria Tallchief (1925-2013), famed New York City Ballet dancer and originator of the role of Firebird.



Teresa Reichlen in Ulysses Dove's "Red Angels"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik



For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net