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New York City Ballet: Chaconne, Interplay, After the Rain, Everywhere We Go

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

After the Rain
Everywhere We Go

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 17, 2014

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Daniel Capps

Chaconne (1976): Music by Christoph Willibald von Gluck (Ballet music from the opera “Orphée et Euridice”), Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Sara Mearns, Russell Janzen, and the Company.

In quintessential Balanchine flair, flowing gowns, created by Karinska, evoke ethereal and mythical imagery. A slow introduction, followed by creamy white blue costumes and unrestrained hair, leads to flowing exits, luxurious lifts, and enchanting shapes, all in the space of a regal ballroom or other-worldly locale.

Chaconne refers to dances for court entertainment, but the energy tonight was more than courtly, with the youthful exuberance of the Corps. Von Gluck’s music propelled the dancers into syncopated rhythms, as partnered Principals, Soloists, and Corps, in Pas de Deux, Pas de Trois, Pas de Cinq, and the full Chaconne exemplified silky classicism mixed with regal patterns. Daniel Capps conducted with the requisite resonance, as Principal, Sara Mearns and Corps, Russell Janzen led the 1976 work with inventive rhythmic connections and romantic yearning. They looked like figures in a Fragonard painting. Among the Soloists and Corps, Lauren King, Gretchen Smith, and David Prottas caught my eye.

Interplay (1952): Music by Morton Gould, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Piano Solo: Susan Walters, Performed by Meagan Mann, Brittany Pollack, Sarah Villwock, Lydia Wellington, Devin Alberda, Harrison Coll, Spartak Hoxha, Peter Walker. The original title for this music was “American Concertette” (1945). Gould’s Ballet works generally drew on American subject matter. Gould received a Grammy in 1965 for his recording of music by Charles Ives. Gould was a composer, arranger, and conductor and wrote in many genres. He conducted for New York City Ballet at the 1988 American Music Festival. He orchestrated “Fall River Legend” (Choreographed by the great Agnes de Mille) and “Interplay”. He also composed for Broadway, television and film. (NYCB Notes).

In the “Horseplay” segment of Robbin’s 1952 Interplay, designed for a mostly Corps ensemble, the youthful Spartak Hoxha was a delightful surprise, full of spunk and momentum. In “Byplay”, Brittany Pollack and Peter Walker, artists to watch, seemed like they were frolicking at a senior hop. “Free Play” and “Team “Play” were led by the full cast, introduced by Devin Alberda, who’s always in personality plus. The Morton Gould jazzy score was divinely interpreted by the ensemble of six, in Santo Loquasto’s crayon-colored costumes. Susan Walters added rambunctious piano trills.

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).

For me, this was my farewell to Wendy Whelan, who would retire the next night. I had already seen her this season on numerous evenings, performing her farewell ballets, minus one, and I truly wanted to remember her in Wheeldon’s After the Rain. There will never be another moment like Jock Soto’s Farewell, when he and Ms. Whelan performed this Wheeldon oeuvre, with its searing, sensual tones and imagery, but Craig Hall, tonight, came close to that quintessential partnering. Mr. Hall is a muscular, magnetic, and mature partner, and, in this ethereal, intertwining, exotic excerpt (the pas de deux) of the original two-part ballet, the languorous, liquid motion was mesmerizing. In fact, Ms. Whelan’s fluttering arms exuded soft rainfall. Mr. Hall lifted Ms. Whelan, placing her elsewhere on the stage; at another point she hides behind his huddled torso. She climbs his legs and thrusts her arms forward. Endless curtain calls followed.

Everywhere We Go (2014): Music by Sufjan Stevens, Commissioned by New York City Ballet, Orchestrated by Sufijan Stevens and Michael P. Atkinson, Choreography by Justin Peck, Costumes by Janie Taylor, Costumes Supervised by Marc Happel, Scenery by Karl Jensen, Scenery Supervised by Penny Jacobus, Lighting by Brandon Sterling Baker, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Rebecca Krohn, Ashly Isaacs, Andrew Veyette, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Amar Ramasar, Teresa Reichlen, and the Company.

Justin Peck’s recently premiered ballet Everywhere We Go, with Sufjan Stevens’ commissioned score, has nine musical movements, each numbered and labeled, like “The Shadows We Fall Behind” and “I Am In The House And I Have The Key”. Mr. Peck also choreographed to a Stevens scores for his well-received Year of the Rabbit. It seems that the entire Principal list is onstage, with seven Principals, three Soloists, and numerous Corps in the ensemble. Janie Taylor, who retired last season, designed the costumes, and Karl Jensen designed the black-white, geometric, shifting shapes, that form the set. With Brandon Sterling Baker’s lighting design, that set and the very stage took on foreboding and frenetic shadows. Michael P. Atkinson orchestrated the music, but Daniel Capps had conducting honors tonight.

The choreography of this Peck ballet is fragmented and cohesive, at once, with ensemble jack-in-the-box, two-foot hops, a bit of turning “bunny hop” steps, and several solos and pas de deux. Sterling Hyltin is partnered by Andrew Veyette, Rebecca Krohn is partnered by Adrian Danchig-Waring, and Ashly Isaacs by Amar Ramasar. Teresa Reichlen has a lead solo role, with aplomb. The Corps and Soloist ensemble are dynamic in a floor-sliding motif, that occurs and reoccurs, to change the level of motion from mid-air to against the stage. Every surface and space is devoured. The style and mood are eclectic, with evocations of Bernstein and brassy blues. Sudden, spatial shifts in tempo and style match the bristling, bubbly, buoyant score. Busby Berkeley’s kaleidoscopic films come to mind, with fragments of dance imagery merging for a camera shot of momentary stillness.

Sara Mearns and Russell Janzen
in Balanchine's "Chaconne"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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

Teresa Reichlen in Justin Peck's "Everywhere We Go"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Sterling Hyltin, Andrew Veyette, and The Cast
of Justin Peck's "Everywhere We Go"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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