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New York City Ballet: Square Dance, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Le Tombeau de Couperin, This Bitter Earth, The Concert
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New York City Ballet: Square Dance, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Le Tombeau de Couperin, This Bitter Earth, The Concert

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Square Dance
The Steadfast Tin Soldier
Le Tombeau de Couperin
This Bitter Earth
The Concert

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 10, 2014

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Andrews Sill

Square Dance (1957): Music by Arcangelo Corelli and Antonio Vivaldi, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Anthony Huxley, and the Company. Balanchine wrote, "The American style of classical dancing, its supple sharpness and richness of metrical invention, its superb preparation for risks, and its high spirits were some of the things I was trying to show in this ballet." (NYCB Notes).

Balanchine’s Square Dance, music by Corelli and Vivaldi, is a staple of City Ballet repertoire and always danced in swift style. However, tonight, the very vivacious Ashley Bouder was partnered with the youthful and miss-matched Anthony Huxley, who excels in solos and ensembles, but is not physically suited for partnering. The partnered lifts did not work, and the image of the two, even with Ms. Bouder’s slight build, was off. The Corps of five women and five men was superb, in the traditional square dance motif, arms looping, legs skipping, hands clasped over heads, for couples to pass through, and so on. Andrews Sill conducted the complete evening, and, here, the score was rhythmically astute and punctuated. In the Corps, Sara Adams and Giovanni Villalobos caught my eye.

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, Performed by Erica Pereira and Daniel Ulbricht.

This story ballet for two requires intense chemistry and dramatization. Daniel Ulbricht and Erica Pereira fit the bill perfectly. Ms. Pereira, ever demure and ingénue, is a doll with red cheeks, a bow in her hair, and a removable red heart. She stands under a Christmas tree with the other toys, waiting for the holiday morning. The fire place burns brightly. She meets the toy soldier, Mr. Ulbricht, stiff in stature but dramatically yearning, to whom she gives her heart. Their plot connections only work with emotional connections, and this duo has it all. The Bizet score, from Jeux d’Enfants, enhances, but never overwhelms the action. David Mitchell’s sets and costumes are showcased in bright colors and storybook simplicity. Balanchine’s choreography calls for angular marching motion and saluting gestures, for the soldier, and rapid spins and off-balance twirls for the doll. The open, windy window figures as well.

Le Tombeau de Couperin (1975): Music by Maurice Ravel, Choreography by George Balanchine, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by an Ensemble of 16 from the Corps in Left Quadrille and Right Quadrille in Four Movements: “Prélude”, “Forlane”, “Menuet”, and “Rigaudon”.

Balanchine created Le Tombeau de Couperin to showcase eight Corps couples, who dance in French Baroque style in two geometrically shifting quadrilles. The couples dance together as one cast, or as one quadrille at a time. Ravel’s 1919 “Tomb of Couperin” was an homage to six friends he lost in World War I, as well as an homage to François Couperin, the French composer. I thought of this ballet tonight as kaleidoscopic, akin to a Busby Berkeley musical film. Yet here, no smiles occur, as each dancer finishes the phrase in silent focus. The synchronized motion magnetizes the viewer’s eye, with the lack of expression sealing the mood.

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.

Wendy Whelan’s almost nightly appearances this month are her countdown farewells. This Bitter Earth, a rapturous pas de deux with Tyler Angle, seal her strong connection to choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. The other brief Wheeldon work, which is serving for Whelan farewells, is the excerpted After the Rain. Ms. Whelan is retiring from City Ballet as a dancer, but will surely teach and also perform in a variety of festival and national company events. Tonight she seemed bewitched in rhythm and motion, sliding, falling, being languidly lifted, gazing in ecstasy, a mystical gestalt. Mr. Angle served to showcase Ms. Whelan, focusing on his partnering and physical support.

The Concert [Or the Perils of Everybody] A Charade in One Act (1956): Music by Frédéric Chopin, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Décor by Saul Steinberg, Costumes by Irene Sharaff, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Pianist: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Andrew Veyette, Lydia Wellington, Austin Laurent, Lars Nelson, Allen Peiffer, Andrew Scordato, Emilie Gerrity, Georgina Pazcoguin, Gretchen Smith, and the Company.

Elaine Chelton, the pianist in Robbins’ The Concert, is a cross between Borge and Harpo, as she exudes charm and charisma, in full pantomime persona. She chased the dancers with a butterfly net, hopping about, glancing at the crowd. Her musicality in the Chopin score is unparalleled. Sterling Hyltin danced the role of the ingénue in the audience, the one the husband flirts with, and Andrew Veyette was the cigar-chomping double-timer. He walks toward his wife in Sherlock Holmes era fashion, dagger held straight, in tights and bowler hat. Lydia Wellington played the rejected, almost stabbed wife to the burlesquean hilt. The audience was vocally adoring every moment. In the ensemble, Georgina Pazcoguin and Gretchen Smith were outstanding, filled with dramatic humor and balancing skill. At one point, the men carry the women upside down, lay them on the floor in lopsided positions, as the music is presumed to come to life. At another point, the dancers are rain-soaked walkers with umbrellas, or an intense concert audience, leaning forward on chairs that fold and fall, or winged butterflies, escaping Ms. Chelton’s net. This is a ballet that shifts in entertainment with each shift in cast. Kudos to all.

Anthony Huxley in Balanchine's "Square Dance"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Erica Pereira and Daniel Ulbricht
in Balanchine's "The Steadfast Tin Soldier"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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

Sterling Hyltin and the Cast of
Jerome Robbins' "The Concert"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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