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New York City Ballet: Spectral Evidence, Soirée Musicale, Namouna, A Grand Divertissement
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New York City Ballet: Spectral Evidence, Soirée Musicale, Namouna, A Grand Divertissement

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Spectral Evidence
Soirée Musicale
Namouna, A Grand Divertissement

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
October 10, 2013

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Spectral Evidence (2013): Music by John Cage, Choreography by Angelin Preljocaj, Costumes by Oliver Theyskens, Costumes Supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Megan Fairchild, Georgina Pazcoguin, Gretchen Smith, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Amar Ramasar, Taylor Stanley.

On second viewing, this work was more interesting and appreciated. The breathing score was evocative of Balanchine’s Variations Pour Une Porte et Un Soupir, but I don’t recall loud kissing sounds, heard again in Preljocaj’s Spectral Evidence. That kissing was connected to Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck’s pas de deux. They are the showcased couple, and his tosses of her against his torso were evocative of Peter Martins’ Romeo… balcony scene. The choreography seemed more rapturous tonight, and the sliding, climbing, crouching, and standing on the angular, shifting boxes that serve as sets, were more melded to the motif.

It occurred to me that this ballet, loosely referencing the Salem witch trials, with pastors and witches dressed in black suits and white (with blood red patches) dresses, could be recycled to a brand new score, even chamber music evocative of the old New England milieu. The John Cage (the program says “music”) score was so distracting that it was difficult on both viewings to absorb Preljocaj’s unique choreography.

Soiree Musicale (1998): Music by Samuel Barber, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Penny Jacobus, Conductor: Daniel Capps, Performed by Ashly Isaacs and the Corps.

This magnificent, early Wheeldon work, originally designed for School of American Ballet, transports the viewer into a ballroom studio. As a former social dancer of ballroom in all the genres, I appreciated this celebration of the styles and rhythms. Daniel Capps, Conductor, kept the Samuel Barber music light and lovely. Black, moving curtains give this piece sophistication, while Holly Hynes’ costumes in blues, reds, pink, and purple hues draw the eye. Three couples dance the Waltz with angled heads, persistently swirling on the beat, followed by two couples doing a Scottische. The Tango was intriguing, with Ashly Isaacs handling no fewer than twelve men. She slides down the line of men waiting their turn, a ballroom etiquette motif. There’s perfumy rapture inherent in this ballet, evocative of Wheeldon’s Carousel (A Dance), especially in Pas de Deux, the final segment, danced tonight by Zachary Catazaro and Sara Adams. The tiny lights in the sky are a favorite Wheeldon visual. The Two-Step was briskly performed by an ensemble of five. This ballet, which showcases the Corps, brings new dancers to the fore, those usually placed to the rear. The audience can preview rising stars of coming seasons.

Namouna, A Grand Divertissement (2010): Music by Edouard Lalo, Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Costumes by Marc Happel and Rustam Khamdamov, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Clotilde Otranto, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Robert Fairchild, Ashley Bouder, Sara Mearns, Megan Fairchild, Daniel Ulbricht, Abi Stafford, and the Company.

Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna, A Grand Divertissement is set to Edouard Lalo’s 19th century ballet, Namouna. According to the program notes, Ratmansky designed this in the abstract, loosely based on the concept of hero, searching for his heroine. Namouna to me is very Nijinsky-esque, with retro headpieces, stiff, fairy-like costumes, playful, perky dances enhanced by melodic, swelling musicality, and virtuosic leaps and spins by some of the company’s finest.

Ashley Bouder was a campy character, smoking in a tutu and matching white headpiece. The Corps, in this segment, wore the same white headpieces, with blue or black tutus. Robert Fairchild donned a white sailor shirt and britches, although this was no Fancy Free. His sailor leaped about joyfully among dancers in black headpieces and long strapless gowns, with male corps in tight caps as well. This was avant-garde, and this was serendipitous. Three dancers in brown, Daniel Ulbricht in shorts and Abi Stafford and Megan Fairchild in stiff brown tutus, all in brown tight caps, leaped about. Namouna, A Grand Divertissement was like a deep, devilish dream that one might have after partying with too much champagne.

Sara Mearns, as the lady in a blue strapless gown, propelled herself in wild, wanton whimsy, legs spread like a scissors, cutting the air. Rebecca Krohn appeared to enjoy every moment of this sparkling, campy performance, as did Ashley Bouder, along with her onstage cigarette, so retro, so risqué. And, Mr. Fairchild seduced the audience with broad smiles, flawless timing, and virtuosic style.

Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild
in Preljocaj's "Spectral Evidence"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Sara Adams and Zachary Catazaro
in Wheeldon's "Soiree Musicale"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

The Company in Ratmansky's "Namouna".
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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