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New York City Ballet: Apollo, Monumentum Pro Gesualdo, Movements for Piano and Orchestra, Duo Concertant, Agon
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New York City Ballet: Apollo, Monumentum Pro Gesualdo, Movements for Piano and Orchestra, Duo Concertant, Agon

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Monumentum Pro Gesualdo
Movements for Piano and Orchestra
Duo Concertant

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 1, 2014

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Andrews Sill

Apollo (1928, Paris: 1951, NY): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Chase Finlay, Maria Kowroski, Sara Mearns, Gretchen Smith. Balanchine looked upon Apollo as the turning point of his life, "in its sustained oneness of tone and feeling". (NYC Ballet Notes).

With the lighting just right, Chase Finlay was a youthful, yearning Apollo tonight, perfect for this role. He exuded regal, God-like demeanor and poise. Although his leaps are not the highest elevation seen in past Apollos, with his speed not the fastest, either, his dramatization and affect were flawless. Andrews Sill kept the Stravinsky score tight (tonight was the Balanchine-Stravinsky themed program), as the audience was drawn into the steady momentum of Apollo’s solos and those of his three muses. As Terpsichore, Polyhymnia, and Calliope, Maria Kowroski, Sara Mearns, and Gretchen Smith exemplified the poetry, visual rhythmics, and theatricality in the muses’ dances in mime. This is Balanchine’s oldest ballet (debuted by Ballets Russes in 1928) still in City Ballet repertoire. Tonight it looked as fresh as if the calendar skipped ahead 86 years.

Monumentum Pro Gesualdo (1960): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Amar Ramasar, and the Company. Stravinsky's homage to Don Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa, re-composes the madrigals into instrumental voices. (NYCB Notes)

This Balanchine-Stravinsky ballet, and the ballet that follows, even though this was created a year after the next, grow, over the years, on dedicated viewers. The madrigal-like orchestral score was composed in 1960 to honor Don Carlo Gesualdo, a treacherous Prince of Venosa. My first viewing years ago left me with soporific ennui; now I look forward to the next viewing. Of course, Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar, who led an ensemble of six male-female duos, are always well cast, shaping similar lines in partnered attractiveness. Mr. Ramasar exuded personality and dynamism, while Ms. Krohn shifted her long torso and longer limbs into riveting imagery. Mark Stanley’s lighting was critical to the dark backdrop and illuminated duo.

Movements for Piano and Orchestra (1958-59): Music by Igor Stravinsky (Movements for Piano and Orchestra), Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano Solo: Alan Moverman, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Amar Ramasar, and the Company. This piece is divided into five sections, and Balanchine paired this work with the previous one for performances. (NYCB Notes) Alan Moverman played the Stravinsky piano solos here, with steady percussiveness and requisite, searing atonality. Once again, Amar Ramasar and Rebecca Krohn appeared, making this ballet the second act to the previous one. Six female Corps create the full ensemble, expanding and enhancing the leads. The synchronized postures and shapes were gripping.

Duo Concertant (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violinist: Arturo Delmoni, Pianist: Nancy McDill, Performed by Ashley Bouder and Robert Fairchild. Stravinsky had dedicated this "Duo Concertant" to Samuel Dushkin, a violinist friend, and the two performed this for years in Europe, starting in 1932 in Berlin. Balanchine choreographed to this score for the Stravinsky Festival, and Kay Mazzo danced with Peter Martins. (NYCB Notes).

With only a pause prior to this Balanchine-Stravinsky ballet, for duo dancers and duo-instrumentalists, Ashely Bouder and Robert Fairchild joined the musicians onstage. Arturo Delmoni was on violin, with Nancy McDill on piano. The dance duo lingers at the piano, then dances in a variety of moving spotlights, with a lit, then darkened stage. The most poignant moments occur when the woman’s arm is uplifted, reaching, or grasping her partner’s hand, all as the light encircles and follows the limb, hand, or gazing eyes. I have seen this work performed by another company, but it is only here, at City Ballet, where the lighting matches the motions, as designed. The musicians were stunning in their ethereal dissonance and echoing quietude.

Agon (1957): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Teresa Reichlen, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Savannah Lowery, Sean Suozzi, Ashley Hod, Allen Peiffer, Unity Phelan, Andrew Scordato, and a Corps ensemble.

Part I of Agon, the final Balanchine-Stravinsky work of this evening, listed “Girls” and “Boys”, twelve total, as the cast in Balanchine’s description. The Triple Pas de Quatre of this first Part introduced Principals, Soloists, and Corps, twelve in all. But it was in Part II, the First Pas de Trois, where Sean Suozzi, Soloist, shone as the lone male dancer with two women, Unity Phelan and Ashley Hod. One of the most impressive elements of a City Ballet performance is in meeting young Corps, and sometimes even apprentices. Each member of the company, no matter how new or young, seems to get moments in the spotlight. In this case, both Ms. Phelan and Ms. Hod danced with buoyant energy and presence. The Second Pas de Trois featured Allen Peiffer, Andrew Scordato, and Soloist Savannah Lowery in various combinations, while the Pas de Deux featured Teresa Reichlen and Adrian Danchig-Waring in transporting luminosity. Part III returned to the “Girl” “Boy” listing, with the entire cast onstage. Balanchine designed this ballet for the ensemble, making half the ballet an anonymous, tightly timed effort. Kudos to Balanchine and Stravinsky.

Chase Finlay in
Balanchine's "Apollo"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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