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New York City Ballet: The Four Temperaments, Episodes, Duo Concertant, Symphony in Three Movements
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New York City Ballet: The Four Temperaments, Episodes, Duo Concertant, Symphony in Three Movements

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

The Four Temperaments
Duo Concertant
Symphony in Three Movements

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
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 25, 2013

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

The Four Temperaments (1946): Music by Paul Hindemith, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: Carolyn Kuan, Piano Solo: Cameron Grant, Performed by Faye Arthurs, Zachary Catazaro, Lauren King, Allen Peiffer, Ashley Laracey, Justin Peck, Robert Fairchild, Savannah Lowery, Tyler Angle, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Ashley Bouder, and the Company. The score (solo piano and strings) was commissioned by George Balanchine from Paul Hindemith in 1940. This ballet appeared at the opening program of Ballet Society, now City Ballet. (NYCB Notes).

Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, set to Paul Hindemith’s charged, atonal score, brought out a new cast and Conductor tonight. Zachary Catazaro, Lauren King, and Justin Peck all caught my eye in the first segment, Theme, with stunning, surreal intensity. Robert Fairchild led the Melancholic Variation, with sophisticated poise and robust virtuosity. Georgina Pazcoguin was particularly intriguing here, as well. The next Sanguinic Variation was led by Savannah Lowery and Tyler Angle, with buoyancy and athleticism. The “Phlegmatic” Variation was led by Adrian Danchig-Waring, with his muscular profile and magnetizing energy. Ashley Bouder was electric and feverish in the “Choleric” Variation. The male ensemble brought out her flashes of strength and wit, all the while creating a propulsive group finale.

The uncluttered black-white leotards and a grey-blue backdrop keep the focus on the choreography. Scissors-kicks, off-balance partnering, powerful entrances, and Balanchine’s masterful dance structures, so refined, so timeless, all combine for animated, spellbinding ballet. Carolyn Kuan kept the Orchestra bright and vigorous, while Cameron Grant’s piano solos made the music irresistible.

Episodes (1959): Music from the orchestral works of Anton von Webern, Choreography by George Balanchine, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Clotilde Otranto, Performed by Abi Stafford, Sean Suozzi, Teresa Reichlen, Ask la Cour, Janie Taylor, Sébastien Marcovici, Maria Kowroski, Jonathan Stafford, and the Company. Balanchine was enthusiastic about Webern’s music, which he felt left “the mind free to ‘see’ the dancing”. Martha Graham originally choreographed for Balanchine “Episodes I”, danced by her Company and NYCB dancers. (NYCB Notes).

The second work in tonight’s black and white Balanchine ballets was Episodes. This abstract work is signature Balanchine, with upswept arms and ethereal beauty of ensemble friezes. The von Webern score is austere and severe, and the women's black leotards with flesh tights and men's white/black motif all enhance the sophisticated choreography. Abi Stafford was well cast with Sean Suozzi in Symphony, Opus 21 pas de deux. Teresa Reichlen and Ask la Cour’s Five Pieces, Opus 10 added a striking change in mood and lighting, in sensual, self-absorbed spotlights, especially with Ms. Reichlen's all-white leotards and Mr. la Cour’s all-black. Their timing and partnering were to the second of the faintest of sounds.

Janie Taylor and Sébastien Marcovici's Concerto, Opus 24 was mesmerizing. They are off-stage partners as well, with outsized chemistry, both exuding allure and theatricality. Maria Kowroski and Jonathan Stafford led the final Ricercata in six voices from Bach's "Musical Offering". Ms. Kowroski was, as always, scintillating and gripping. Clotilde Otranto conducted the poignant, percussive passages with their tiny, exotic effects with ease. Kudos to Ronald Bates and Mark Stanley for their fascinating lighting concepts.

Duo Concertant (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violinist: Kurt Nikkanen, Pianist: Cameron Grant, Performed by Megan Fairchild and Jared Angle. Stravinsky had dedicated this "Duo Concertant" to Samuel Dushkin, a violinist friend, and the two performed this for years in Europe, starting in 1932 in Berlin. Balanchine choreographed to this score for the Stravinsky Festival, and Kay Mazzo danced with Peter Martins. (NYCB Notes).

Megan Fairchild and Jared Angle were casually placed by Cameron Grant’s piano, with Kurt Nikkanen nearby on violin. The dancers seemed to chat silently, absorbed by the music. Suddenly, as if by an internal spark, the two began dancing, in an abstract, but affectionate manner. Ms. Fairchild was lyrical, and playful, with rapid, determined footwork. Mr. Angle has grown into a more generous partner, less restrained, and he imbued his partnering with glowing attentiveness. Both dancers took time to draw the audience's attention to the Grant-Nikkanen duo, and then to themselves, as they romanticized and extended arms in a right stage spotlight. Mr. Nikkanen and Mr. Grant performed the Stravinsky score with spirit and glow.

Symphony in Three Movements (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: Carolyn Kuan, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Amar Ramasar, Rebecca Krohn, Andrew Veyette, Ana Sophia Scheller, Daniel Ulbricht, and the Company.

Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements never tires in repetition, in costumes of white, black, and pink, against a blue backdrop. This ballet inspires and enchants, on each viewing. Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar took the exotically charged “Andante” Movement II, with outstretched arms and visual tension. They were in sync, with precise postures and timing. Rebecca Krohn and Andrew Veyette were well partnered, both of taut, wiry physique. Ana Sophia Scheller and Daniel Ulbricht are compact and electric, making this duo one to repeat. The Company, in Movements I and III, was scintillating in Stravinsky-esque angularity. Carolyn Kuan kept the magical momentum alive.

Ashley Bouder and Tyler Angle
in Balanchine's "The Four Temperaments"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Maria Kowroski and Jonathan Stafford
in Balanchine's "Episodes".
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

The Company
in Balanchine's "Symphony in Three Movements"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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