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New York City Ballet: "Les Bosquets", "This Bitter Earth", "Barber Violin Concerto", "Herman Schmerman Pas de Deux"
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New York City Ballet: "Les Bosquets", "This Bitter Earth", "Barber Violin Concerto", "Herman Schmerman Pas de Deux"

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Les Bosquets
This Bitter Earth
Barber Violin Concerto
Herman Schmerman Pas de Deux

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
May 2, 2014

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Andrews Sill

Les Bosquets (2014): Music by Woodkid, Production Concept, Staging, and Video Projection Directed by JR, Additional Choreography by Lil Buck and Peter Martins, Costumes designed by Marc Happel, Lighting designed by Mark Stanley, Performed by Lauren Lovette and Lil Buck.

In an art imitates art concept, JR, the photographer who created a giant floor photograph for the Company, of dancers in dancewear, lying down on crumpled white paper, with extrapolated segments placed throughout Koch Theater walls, has created a brief ballet. It’s called Les Bosquets, named for a suburban Parisian housing project, where riots had occurred. Music is by Woodkid, a collaborator, with a mélange of metal, rock, and new age. The Company wears black and white, with tiny dots like digital pixels, a nod to JR’s photography.

Peter Martins took JR’s concepts and created notable, stark choreography to best match music, concept, and mood. A guest dancer, Lil Buck, known for “jookin”, performed with soloist, Lauren Lovette, in an interesting pas de deux. Lil Buck also created some of the choreography. Ms. Lovett’s white costume was evocative of JR’s crumpled paper background for his large photo presentation. Marc Happel designed all the fascinating costumes to highlight the choreographic connection of visual and performance art. Mr. Martins hopes that young audiences, who follow JR’s contemporary projects, will find themselves drawn to the world of City Ballet. The ensemble motion is percussive and aggressive, with the pas de deux a work of contrasting ballet and street techniques.

This Bitter Earth (Excerpt from Five Movements, Three Repeats) (2012): Music by Max Richter and Dinah Washington (from the modern picture soundtrack from “Shutter Island”, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Reid Bartelme, Lighting by Mary Louise Geiger, Performed by Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle.

This recent, Wheeldon work was presented in Vail Colorado’s Dance Festival in 2012, and it was good to see it tonight in New York. Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle were locked in elegant, sweeping sublimity, showcased in languorous lifts, all to the recorded soundtrack of Shutter Island, music by Max Richter and Dinah Washington. Ms. Whelan has been absent from this stage for quite some time, while in rehab from surgery, and she danced in miraculously superb form. Mr. Angle, always the attentive partner, seemed thrilled to share this stage on Ms. Whelan’s important night.

Barber Violin Concerto (1988): Music by Samuel Barber (Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 14), Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by William Ivey Long, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Solo Violinist: Arturo Delmoni, Performed by Megan Fairchild, Jared Angle, Sara Mearns, and Ask la Cour. Barber, usually considered a classicist, moved into a contemporary motif with his "Violin Concerto", with its dissonance and starkness. This work includes melodic movements as well as a rapid scherzo. (NYCB Notes).

Peter Martins’ Barber Violin Concerto has been reviewed multiple times on these pages, but it’s always refreshing with each shift in cast. Tonight Sara Mearns was extraordinarily rapturous, after she disposed of her balletic pas de deux with Ask la Cour and ravished Jared Angle, who was half of the modern dance couple. Ms. Mearns threw herself, hair down, against Mr. Angle’s torso, leaping in wildness and wantonness. Meanwhile, Megan Fairchild, the other half of the modern couple, literally ran up and down Mr. la Cour’s back, wiggling in spritely fashion, grabbing for attention and warmth, before she was tossed, as he had been, although only in the imagination, by Ms. Mearns. Arturo Delmoni’s solo violin was surreal and scintillating..

Herman Schmerman Pas de Deux (1992): Music by Thom Willems (Commissioned for the Diamond Project), Choreography by William Forsythe, Production design by William Forsythe, Costumes by Gianni Versace, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Maria Kowroski and Amar Ramasar.

The Herman Schmerman Pas de Deux is a light, comic piece by William Forsythe, which I first saw at Albert Evans’ 2010 Farewell. On that date, at that very time, it worked. Beyond, it does not. It’s silly, vaudevillian (the man exits and returns bare-chested in a matching yellow skirt), and seems out of place on each subsequent occasion. This should be saved for a party atmosphere, not for a repertory night. However, Maria Kowroski and Amar Ramasar made the most of the caprice.

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

Unlike Herman Schmerman, Namouna becomes more impressive on each viewing, appreciably more. Scored to Lalo by choreographer, Ratmansky, this ballet caper works perfectly, with women in look-alike black wigs and neckpieces, then white bathing caps, with three leading women, Sterling Hyltin, Ashely Bouder (who literally smokes, dancing), and Sara Mearns. Robert Fairchild is the dashing hero, cavorting and leaping and chasing the girls. Ms. Mearns becomes a sex siren, while the dance and wig/cap imagery becomes evocative of Bronislava Nijinsky’s Les Noces - retro Russian. Megan Fairchild, Daniel Ulbricht, and Abi Stafford were each stunning in individually unique roles.

Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle
in Christopher Wheeldon's "This Bitter Earth"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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