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New York City Ballet, Clearing Dawn, Funerailles, Varied Trio [in four], After the Rain, Todo Buenos Aires, In Creases
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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Clearing Dawn
Varied Trio [in four]
After the Rain
Todo Buenos Aires
In Creases

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 15, 2014

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Clearing Dawn (2014): Music by Judd Greenstein, Choreography by Troy Schumacher, Costumes by Thom Browne, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Flute; Paul Dunkel, Clarinets: Steven Hartman, Trumpet: Raymond Mase, Violin: Kurt Nikkanen, Viola: Maureen Gallagher, Cello: Frederick Zlotkin, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Claire Kretzschmar, Georgina Pazcoguin, David Prottas, Teresa Reichlen, Andrew Veyette.

To my dismay, I couldn’t escape this new Schumacher work, which showed up in more than one fall repertoire program. On third viewing this season, I was even more impatient with Thom Browne’s overly tailored, un-danceable, grey-white-black costumes, the too casual choreography, which could actually be improvised with little notice, the lack of interpersonal connections, and the teenage-styled boxing, leaping, and juvenile smiles. Ashley Bouder dances with full life force and ebullience, but the Greenstein score and Schumacher’s aimless direction are increasingly unsatisfying. It may have helped to change the cast, after so many performances and so much repetition of sameness. The only saving grace was discovering that Corps dancers, Claire Kretzschmar and David Prottas, should be seen more often.

Funérailles (2014): Music by Franz Liszt, Choreography by Liam Scarlett, Costumes by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Gretchen Smith and Zachary Catazaro.

This was also the third viewing of Liam Scarlett’s Funérailles. On the premiere, Ms. Chelton, solo pianist, was placed too far back for volume and depth. On second viewing, she was placed closer to front stage with an enhanced sound system. On this viewing, the Liszt “Funérailles” was somewhere in the middle, once again too muffled, not enough tonal drama for the very dramatic choreography. But, I was delighted to view a new duo in the partnered roles, Gretchen Smith and Zachary Catazaro. Both dancers exude charisma, personality, and enchanting form. As partners in this impassioned, new ballet, Ms. Smith and Mr. Catazaro were even more theatrical than had been the onstage-offstage partners, Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild. In the brightly brocaded, shirtless jacket, Mr. Catazaro was the quintessential heart-breaker, tossing and spinning and lifting Ms. Smith, as she danced with the perceived agony of a lovelorn diva, dressed in Sarah Burton’s lush finery. I look forward to future viewings of this work, but with strengthened acoustics.

Varied Trio [in four] (NYC Ballet Premiere): Music by Lou Harrison, Choreography by Jean-Pierre Frohlich, Costumes by Marc Happel, Lighting by Penny Jacobus, Piano: Alan Moverman, Violin: Kurt Nikkanen, Percussion: James Baker, Performed by Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar.

Tonight was a six-dance program, extremely generous of Mr. Martins. A New York City Ballet Premiere, Varied Trio [in four], brought out three solo musicians, Alan Moverman on piano, Kurt Nikkanen on violin, and James Baker on percussion, to perform the Lou Harrison exotic score. Any time Amar Ramasar dances, especially with Sterling Hyltin as a well-matched partner for temperament, the audience is well served. Jean-Pierre Frohlich, one of City Ballet’s eleven Ballet Masters, premiered this piece with MOVES, the Company’s touring project, in 2013. The music is dissonant and contemporary, with Japanese influences. Marc Happel designed the uncluttered costumes in three shades of blue. Ms. Hyltin and Mr. Ramasar dance in spotlighted solos, sometimes differently at once, sometimes in intertwined togetherness, and sometimes as partners. Reaches and stretches are prominently woven through, although the choreography is not complex.

After the Rain (Excerpt, 2005): Music by Arvo Pärt (Spiegel im Spiegel (1978), for violin and piano), Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violin: Arturo Delmoni, Piano: Alan Moverman, Performed by Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall. Christopher Wheeldon was a NYC Ballet soloist and was Resident Choreographer. “After the Rain” was Mr. Wheeldon’s eleventh ballet created for NYC Ballet. (NYCB Notes).

Most New York balletomanes know this excerpted ballet minute by minute. It was originally choreographed for Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto, and at Mr. Soto’s Farewell, it was tear-inducing. Now it’s the week of Ms. Whelan’s Farewell, and the countdown of two of her Wheeldon pas de deux has almost come to a finale (the other this season is This Bitter Earth). Craig Hall has become the new Jock Soto in many Soto roles, and here, as always, Mr. Hall was reverent, sensual, unhurried, and muscular. Ms. Whelan stood on his torso, crawled between his legs, and so on, as they wound about or circled each other on all levels of the stage, to Arvo Part’s Spiegel Im Spiegel. The applause was a standing one, as Ms. Whelan has been a fixture at the Company Including her time as an apprentice, Ms. Whelan has been with City Ballet for 30 years.

Todo Buenos Aires (2000): Music by Astor Piazzolla (Pachouli, Escualo, La Mufa, Todo Buenos Aires, Michelangelo 70), Music Arranged by Ron Wasserman, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violin: Kurt Nikkanen, Clarinets: Steven Hartman, Double bass: Ron Wasserman, Piano: Nancy McDill, Bandoneón: JP Jofre, Performed by Joaquin De Luz, Maria Kowroski, Jared Angle, Ask la Cour, Ashley Laracey, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Amar Ramasar. The original production of Todo Buenos Aires premiered in 2000 and was choreographed to two Piazzolla tangos, La Mufa and Todo Buenos Aires. This expanded version uses five Piazzolla tangos, see above. Argentinean Astor Piazzolla fused tango, jazz, and classical elements for social and performance Argentine Tango and for cultural/classical concerts. (NYCB Notes).

Peter Martins’ Todo Buenos Aires is not authentic tango for social or performance, but it is ballet to tango, and extremely enticing and entertaining. Set to five of Astor Piazzolla’s works, including the title piece, two women and four men, plus the featured solo by Joaquin De Luz, born in Spain and rhythmically perfected in the tango genre, execute ganchos, boléos, sentadas, and many basic tango steps with grace and mastery. Ron Wasserman, onstage tonight on double bass, arranged the tangos for ballet. The other four musicians are Kurt Nikkanen on violin, Steven Hartman on clarinet, Nancy McDill on piano, and JP Jofre on bandoneón. Piazzolla is an intoxicating and magnetic composer, with rhythms and repetitions that stir and pierce the soul. Although this ballet is imbued with humor and sexiness, music and mood still throb with fervor and fever. Joaquin De Luz, always the powerhouse, was central to the choreography, a dervish, one-man Greek Chorus, setting up the scenes. Maria Kowroski and Ashley Laracey, with Jared Angle, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Ask la Cour, and Amar Ramasar, danced with astounding propulsion and energy.

In Creases (2012): Music by Philip Glass, Choreography by Justin Peck, Costumes conceived by Justin Peck and Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Pianos: Elaine Chelton and Alan Moverman, Performed by Sara Adams, Brittany Pollack, Emilie Gerrity, Gretchen Smith, Daniel Applebaum, Taylor Stanley, David Prottas, Harrison Ball.

This 2012 Justin Peck work, with dancers in Mr. Peck’s and Marc Happel’s warm-up-styled leotards, that resemble Henri Rousseau’s 1908 painting, “The Football Players”, only without the stripes, is fairly brief but fresh and inviting. Elaine Chelton and Alan Moverman are on duo pianos, in the rear dimness. The ensemble of eight, except for David Prottas and Brittany Pollack, create kaleidoscopic figures, either facing the audience, with upward arms, or standing in horizontal lines, with arms stretched out, shifting position and shape periodically. Every level of stage and space are utilized. Mr. Prottas’ solo includes scissors kicks in motion, a propulsive feat. Philip Glass’ Four Movements for Two Pianos was ever so captivating, with Ms. Chelton and Mr. Moverman maximizing the effect of so many chords. In this ballet, the piano acoustics were extraordinary. And, in the ensemble, Ms. Pollack, Taylor Stanley, and Daniel Applebaum danced with extra vitality and vim. Mr. Peck continues to excel among new ballet choreographers.

New York City Ballet in
Troy Schumacher's "Clearing Dawn",
Costumes by Thom Browne
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild in
Liam Scarlett's "Funérailles",
Costumes by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall
in Christopher Wheeldon's "After the Rain"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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