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New York City Ballet: Russian Treasures

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New York City Ballet
Russian Treasures
(NYC Ballet Website)

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children’s Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Fayçal Karoui
Managing Director, Communications, Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns
Manager, Press Relations, Joe Guttridge
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 16, 2008

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).
Conductor: Fayçal Karoui

Serenade (1948): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Yvonne Borree, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Darci Kistler, Charles Askegard, Stephen Hanna, and the Company. Set to Tschaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings", this was Balanchine's first ballet choreographed in America. (NYCB Notes).

Today’s performance of Serenade, in the final program of the season, “Russian Treasures”, was highlighted by Kaitlyn Gilliland, a mesmerizing dancer, who only recently was noticed as an apprentice in Eliot Feld’s 2006 Étoile Polaire. Performing with Yvonne Borree and Darci Kistler, Ms. Gilliland radiated youthful ardor, sublime gracefulness, and smooth pliancy. Ms. Borree and Ms. Kistler were polished and persuasive in the dim blueness and mystery of this spiritual work, Balanchine’s first ballet for his new Company. Charles Askegard and Stephen Hanna added their own mythical magic, but one of the lasting impressions was that of Ms. Kistler, arms up and forward, being carried through the ensemble by her ankles. Noteworthy in that ensemble was Georgina Pazcoguin, an artist to watch.

Mozartiana (1981): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky (Suite No. 4, Op. 61), Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Daniel Ulbricht, Benjamin Millepied, Dena Abergel, Saskia Beskow, Dara Johnson, Gwyneth Muller, and students from the School of American Ballet (SAB), Miwako Chimura, Arden Pickoff-Rafferty, Skyla Schreter, and Lindsay Turkel. Tschaikovsky studied at the Conservatory in St. Petersburg, where Balanchine also studied piano and dance. The original NYC Ballet cast included Suzanne Farrell, Ib Andersen, and Christopher d'Amboise. (NYCB Notes).

Wendy Whelan, in the Preghiera, drew the audience in, as the ballet’s introduction is replete with dramatic imagery, thanks in great part, to four young students from School of American Ballet, all of whom were poised, appropriately severe, and crisp in timing, balance, and the iconic outstretched arm position, like eagles’ wings, in a spiritual vision. Daniel Ulbricht, in the Gigue, was, as always, buoyant and aerobic, but the starkness of this work would be better suited to a dancer with less expressed personality. Mr. Ulbricht is captivating at all times, but this is a strikingly serious work. Benjamin Millepied partnered Ms. Whelan with elegance and vigilance, but he, on the other hand, seems better suited to lighter or contemporary works. Rouben Ter-Arutunian’s black costumes remain richly refined.

Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 (1964): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky (Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Major), Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Gary Lisz, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Susan Walters, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Jonathan Stafford, Savannah Lowery, Vincent Paradiso, Christian Tworzyanski, Faye Arthurs, Amanda Hankes, and the Company.

For my final ballet viewed in this City Ballet season, it was good to see Ashley Bouder again, and her partner, Jonathan Stafford, has truly grown into these featured roles. Susan Walters watched carefully in the solo Tschaikovsky score, and Savannah Lowery matched forces with Ms. Bouder and Mr. Stafford with unrestrained spontaneity. The silky pastels and bravura choreography added up to a pulsating and joyous performance. In the corps, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Devin Alberda, Georgina Pazcoguin, and Daniel Applebaum caught my eye.

Kudos to City Ballet for another glorious Winter Season.

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