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New York City Ballet: "Vespro", "Spectral Evidence", "Acheron"

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New York City Ballet
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Spectral Evidence

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
January 31, 2014

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Clotilde Otranto

Vespro (2002): Music by Bruno Moretti (commissioned for New York City Ballet), Choreography by Mauro Bigonzetti, Costumes by Julius Lumsden, Costumes supervised by Holly Hines, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Alan Moverman, Mezzo-Soprano: Meg Bragle, Soprano Saxophone: Ed Joffe, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Ashley Bouder, Tyler Angle, Gonzalo Garcia, Andrew Veyette, and Corps members.

When Clotilde Otranto is in the orchestra pit, expectation rises, as this virtuoso conductor draws such energy and dynamism from the musicians. Bruno Moretti and Mauro Bigonzetti, longtime collaborators, created Vespro in 2002. Tonight, Andrew Veyette, in a lead role, danced with intense focus and posture, as he swirled and crumpled onto the floor, at times, even leaping onto the piano. This is a wild and wanton, yet classically structured ballet. Ed Joffe’s soprano sax had wistful echoing exoticism, seeming to mimic a pan flute. During the angst-driven, Bigonzetti choreography, serene sublimity seamlessly unfolds. Arms sweep in circles about the head with sharply driven changes in configuration. Alan Moverman, pianist, and Meg Bragle, mezzo-soprano, added intrigue.

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 Tyler Peck, Robert Fairchild, Megan Fairchild, Georgina Pazcoguin, Gretchen Smith, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Amar Ramasar, Taylor Stanley.

Added to tonight’s contemporary program was Preljocaj’s Spectral Evidence, introduced last season. On repeat viewing, it seemed more tightly woven, more interesting in the gestalt. The operatic syllables and tones, of sighs, groans, and kissing, seemed more engaging and provocative. Robert Fairchild’s solo is more defined and practiced, and his duo with Tiler Peck was a visual design in motion, with their necks, torsos, arms, legs, slipping over and about each other. When the women climb up the scenic shapes, then disappear, haunting visions of the Salem witches come to mind. Among the cast, Amar Ramasar and Georgina Pazcoguin seemed to especially rivet the action with dark gazes and taut muscularity. .

Acheron (World Premiere): Music by Francis Poulenc, Choreography by Liam Scarlett, Costumes by Liam Scarlett, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Organ Soloist: Michael Hey, Performed by Sara Mearns, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Rebecca Krohn, Tyler Angle, Ashley Bouder, Amar Ramasar, Anthony Huxley, and the Company.

World Premieres are very exciting, with the audience hushed in anticipation of surprise. Knowing the score would be Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ, Strings, and Timpani was a huge plus. An organ soloist was onboard. After dancers move in total silence, crashing organ chords ensue, grabbing the imagination. Later the mood becomes melancholy, soulful. In Greek mythology, the Acheron was a river of agony, through which the dead would be transported in order to be received into the Underworld. Poulenc composed this work after the death of a friend and considered it a focal point in his personal religious journey. Thus, it was fitting for Liam Scarlett to choose this Concerto for his new choreography, with its contrasting themes of loss and introspection.

Mr. Scarlett designed the costumes, with cropped tights for men and sleeveless dresses for women. The lighting is appropriately dim and diffuse, making the image almost like a black-white photograph. Anthony Huxley danced a solo, central role, with three lead couples and a Corps of five duos. The lead couples were Sara Mearns and Adrian Danchig-Waring, Rebecca Krohn and Tyler Angle, and Ashley Bouder and Amar Ramasar. Men lift their partners above, as if they’re crossing a river. Partnered choreography is primal, adding zest to the driven percussion and rushing organ chords. The Company duos wind through the lead duos with purposeful momentum, encouraging the audience to look forward to the next viewing, to absorb the newness more completely.

Sara Mearns and Adrian Danchig-Waring
in Liam Scarlett's "Acheron"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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