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New York City Ballet: Serenade, Agon, Symphony in C
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New York City Ballet: Serenade, Agon, Symphony in C

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New York City Ballet
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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, Music Director Designate, Andrew Litton
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
January 31, 2015 Matinee

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Clotilde Otranto

Serenade (1948): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky (Serenade for Strings), Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Megan LeCrone, Sara Mearns, Erica Pereira, Jared Angle, Justin Peck, and the Company. Set to Tschaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings, this was Balanchine's first ballet choreographed in America. (NYCB Notes)

The opening strains of Tschaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings keep the audience breathlessly gripped, as the female ensemble stands statuesque, then moves one foot in synchronized speed. This 1948 Balanchine work always breathes freshness and rarity into Koch Theater. Sara Mearns, carried off in the finale, by four men, with her hair falling in the breeze, was ethereal. Both Justin Peck and Jared Angle, as the two lead men, brought drama, as one is a cavalier and one is led blindfolded from rear right to left front stage in searing quietude. Soloist, Megan LeCrone, whose tight facial expressiveness worked this time, and Erica Pereira, a sublime, youthful Soloist, added glamor to the moment. But, it was Ms. Mearns’ fullness and fervor in her leaps and lifts that astounded the audience. It’s always magical, when Ms. Mearns is onstage.

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

The Balanchine-Stravinsky Agon is filled with nuanced surprises, like the sound of wood blocks, finger snapping, clapping rhythms, and other details of tempo or gesture. Teresa Reichlen and Adrian Danchig-Waring are quintessentially stunning and streamlined in motion and affect, a perfect partnership, physically and psychically. This is another duo that deserved its own new ballet. Anthony Huxley is better suited in partnership with a diminutive dancer, like Lauren Lovette or Erica Pereira. Savannah Lowery, a Soloist like Mr. Huxley, overwhelms this partner. Perhaps it was because this ballet was modeled after a mid-seventeenth century, French dance manual (NYCB Notes) that Mr. Balanchine labeled roles for four “Boys” and eight “Girls”. The cast was superb, especially in Part II, for Four Duos and Four Trios. Each visual shift of partnering added riveting shapes and figures.

Symphony in C (1948): Music by Georges Bizet, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Andrew Veyette, Maria Kowroski, Tyler Angle, Lauren Lovette, Joseph Gordon, Lauren King, Taylor Stanley, and the Company.

The third and final Balanchine ballet this afternoon, set to Bizet’s Symphony in C Major, is one of my favorite in City Ballet’s repertory. The anticipation of each of the four movements is striking, as momentum builds and the theme rises, one tone higher, each time. One more duo that deserves its own ballet is Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette, who share superb chemistry and mutual charisma. In the “Allegro Vivo” they were propulsive and possessed, both eyes on each other. But, it was the “Adagio” that mesmerized the crowd, with Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle languorously appearing, stage left rear, as the music builds to their dramatic entrance. When Ms. Kowroski falls trustingly backwards, into Mr. Angle’s arms, the audience sees expert professionalism in the split second timing of true partnership. When Ms. Kowroski leans back for Mr. Angle to swirl her around, as she’s almost horizontal to the stage floor, the music sweeps them both. Clotilde Otranto, this matinee’s Conductor, is a tireless maestro, as the lengthy Bizet score was performed as if she’d just taken the stage. Also in top form were Lauren King and Taylor Stanley, in the final movement, “Allegro Vivace”.

Kudos to George Balanchine.

Sara Mearns and the Corps
in George Balanchine's "Serenade"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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