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New York City Ballet: "Raymonda Variations", "The Steadfast Tin Soldier", "Le Tombeau de Couperin", "Symphony in C"
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New York City Ballet: "Raymonda Variations", "The Steadfast Tin Soldier", "Le Tombeau de Couperin", "Symphony in C"

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Raymonda Variations
The Steadfast Tin Soldier
Le Tombeau de Couperin
Symphony in C

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 11, 2014 Matinee

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Raymonda Variations (1961): Music by Alexander Glazounov, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Horace Armistead, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: Alexandre Myrat, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Andrew Veyette, Sara Adams, Faye Arthurs, Emilie Gerrity, Ashly Isaacs, Megan LeCrone, and an ensemble of seven female Corps dancers. Balanchine used music from the first act of “Raymonda”, which he had mounted as a full-length ballet with Alexandra Danilova in 1946 for the Ballets Russe. (NYCB Notes).

It’s been six years since I saw Balanchine’s very pink Raymonda Variations, and it was just confection. Lovely. Balanchine borrowed Glazounov’s score for three abstract ballets, with Raymonda Variations being the last. Nine Variations are each danced by one Principal, Soloist, or Corps performer. But, the lead into the Variations is a Pas de Deux for Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette. Ms. Bouder danced with emotional spark and energized electricity, even more than usual. Alexandre Myrat was Guest Conductor today, one who grasped the contagious ebullience of this Glazounov score. This light and airy piece, with frolicking ballerinas, reminiscent of a Fragonard painting, showcased Mr. Veyette as polished, with superb timing, vibrant presence, and taut technique. He spins, leaps, soars, and flies off into the wings.

The Steadfast Tin Soldier (1975): Music by Georges Bizet (from Jeux d’Enfants), Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery and Costumes by David Mitchell, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: Alexandre Myrat, Performed by Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley.

Both adults and children at today’s matinee were enthused with this short storybook ballet, with Christmas décor in May. A faux orange fire burns in a fireplace, and a doll and toy soldier fall in love. When a wild wind blows the doll whirling into the flames, she leaves her heart for the sad soldier, whose straight kicks and steps bring him back to his station by the gifts and tree. Only dancers with endearing, youthful charm can exude the fairy tale drama with charisma. Today’s duo of Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley was incomparable. Mr. Huxley brought true vulnerability and humility to this role and showed the audience a whole new dimension to his characterizations. He’s been successful in several ballets, but seems sometimes stiff. In this costume and makeup, he let it go, bravo. Mr. Huxley and Ms. Fairchild are very well suited in energy, physicality, and style. Now, Mr. Huxley should build on this expanding virtuosity. Alexandre Myrat once again conducted the melodic Bizet score.

Le Tombeau de Couperin (1975): Music by Maurice Ravel, Choreography by George Balanchine, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Daniel Capps, Performed by an Ensemble of 16 from the Corps in Left Quadrille and Right Quadrille in Four Movements: “Prélude”, “Forlane”, “Menuet”, and “Rigaudon”. Nobody does synchronicity like Balanchine, and the French baroque, choreographic style of his Corps Quadrilles is a mesmerizing image of shapes and figures. Ravel composed the original Tombeau de Couperin for six friends who died in World War I. His orchestrations of four of the six movements were chosen by Balanchine for this piece in 1975, for a City Ballet Ravel Festival. It’s a black-white costumed ballet for just the Corps, a spectacular vehicle to showcase eight couples from the Company’s ensemble. Daniel Capps conducted the orchestra, emphasizing the spectacular rhythms and phrases that repeat memorably. In fact, the music lingers. Some of the movement is reminiscent of films, operas, and paintings, that include an image of baroque hand-over-hand, chain-link ballets, with uplifted arms and repetitive patterns.

Symphony in C (1948): Music by Georges Bizet, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: Alexandre Myrat, Performed by Tiler Peck, Zachary Catazaro, Sara Mearns, Jared Angle, Erica Pereira, Antonio Carmena, Lauren King, Sean Suozzi, and the Company.

Speaking of synchronicity, the final Balanchine ballet on today’s program was his gorgeous Symphony in C, choreographed in 1948 to Bizet’s found manuscript, which Balanchine’s musical collaborator, Stravinsky, recommended. For New York City Ballet’s first program, in 1948, Symphony in C was premiered. (It had been shown in 1947, with a difference in title, sets, and costumes). Guest Conductor, Alexandre Myrat, once again conducted, with mastery and momentum.

In the First Movement, “Allegro Vivo”, Tiler Peck brought Zachary Catazaro to center stage, a recently promoted Soloist. Ms. Peck pushed and pulled the music with her energized arms, along with the spellbinding, echoing theme. Mr. Catazaro was a bit restrained at first, but soon seized the moment with dynamic partnering and a daring, rushing verve. This contagious symphony is built with four movements, each building upon the previous one. with energy abounding. At the start of each new movement, the fresh partners emerge from the rear wings and rush to stage front with bravura personality. Marc Happel’s recently redesigned tutus are illumined with Swarovski crystals, and shimmer with the bouncy score. The men, too, are bejeweled, and the entire scene is regal and sophisticated. Sara Mearns and Jared Angle captured the etherealness of the “Adagio”, exuding dreaminess and daring. Erica Pereira and Antonio Carmena were coltish in their prancing, leaping, and cavorting, in the “Allegro Vivace”. Lauren King and Sean Suozzi were smartly matched for refined spirit.

Kudos to George Balanchine. The more I see, and the more I learn, of this renowned artist, the more I am astounded at the immeasurable expanse of his repertory and versatility.

The Company in
George Balanchine's "Le Tombeau de Couperin"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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