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New York City Ballet: Concerto Barocco, The Goldberg Variations
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New York City Ballet: Concerto Barocco, The Goldberg Variations

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Concerto Barocco
The Goldberg Variations

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
February 5, 2015

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Andrews Sill

Concerto Barocco (1948): Music by John Sebastian Bach (Double Violin Concerto in D Minor), Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, 1st Violin: Arturo Delmoni, 2nd Violin: Nicolas Danielson, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Savannah Lowery, Tyler Angle, and the Company.

Balanchine’s 1948 ballet for two women and one man, plus a female Corps ensemble of eight, frequently opens the evening’s program, with its two solo violinists in the pit. Arturo Delmoni and Nicolas Danielson created and projected bright, bold tones, as Andrews Sill kept the full orchestra brisk and rhythmic. Tonight is an all-Bach evening, and this first Bach ballet, created over two decades earlier than Robbins’ Goldberg Variations, is a perfect preview of Bach, as the audience begins to focus on Maria Kowroski, then Savannah Lowery, then Ms. Kowroski’s pas de deux with Tyler Angle. Geometrically designed shapes of two and three dancers, arms in synchronized motion and friezes, are beguiling. Ms. Kowroski always finds ways to refresh her previous performances of this work with lustrous and languorous motion of limbs, synchronized with the bows of the violins. Mr. Angle twirled Ms. Kowroski quickly but quietly with his hands on her waist, as he always showcases her foremost. Ms. Lowery becomes a compliment to Ms. Kowroski, matching and completing their visual, kaleidoscopic figures. In the ensemble, Sara Adams and Gretchen Smith caught my eye.

The Goldberg Variations (1971): Music by J. S. Bach, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Joe Eula, Lighting by Thomas Skelton, Piano: Cameron Grant, Performed by Faye Arthurs, Zachary Catazaro, Emilie Gerrity, Daniel Applebaum, Joseph Gordon, Ashley Laracey, Anthony Huxley, Taylor Stanley, Sterling Hyltin, Amar Ramasar, Sara Mearns, Tyler Angle, Ashley Bouder, Joaquin De Luz, and the Company.

The Goldberg Variations is a Two-Part ballet, each with its own Variations, that seems to be a full genre examination in style, costume, interpretation, balance, and solo virtuosic appearances. A simple grey backdrop opens Jerome Robbins’ ornate oeuvre, and Joe Eula must have been exceptionally busy in 1971, as he created a wide array of costume changes of material, texture, and style. This is a lengthy, well over one hour, ballet, with multiple moods, dance motifs, and partnering devices. The Goldberg Variations was originally commissioned by Count Keyserling, who had insomnia, and Goldberg, Bach’s student, played the variations for the Count during his sleepless nights in 1742. In order to captivate ballet audiences for such a long sitting, Jerome Robbins kept changing from classical to contemporary in costume and dance genres, as the Variations played out. Cameron Grant, on the grand piano, constantly watched the dancers from his offstage vantage point.

Faye Arthurs and Zachary Catazaro led the initial Theme, gorgeously played by Mr. Grant. In the Part I Variations, Joseph Gordon and Taylor Stanley caught my attention, with magnetic persona and poise, while Ashley Laracey and Emilie Gerrity danced with stunning spirit. Daniel Applebaum and Anthony Huxley exuded sophistication in this youthful, ebullient cast. An accompanying ensemble of twelve backed up the six, featured leads.

In the Part II Variations, the entire Principal ensemble (Sterling Hyltin, Sara Mearns, Ashley Bouder, Amar Ramasar, Tyler Angle, and Joaquin De Luz) was splendid, and an accompanying ensemble of twenty-three backed this very impressive cast. Especially noteworthy were Sara Mearns and Tyler Angle, both imaginatively impassioned and smooth-lined in their pas de deux. Also offering buoyant fluency were Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar, while Ashley Bouder and Joaquin De Luz bought spunk and glitz to the proceedings. However, I must return to Joe Eula, Costume Designer, who brought simple leotards and unitards to the stage, as well as military outfits and pastel tutus. It was this Variation of the visual, musical, and stylistic devices that kept tonight’s City Ballet audience captivated for the duration. It’s a shame that neither Count Keyserling nor Johann Goldberg got to see this stunning ballet.

Anthony Huxley, Daniel Applebaum,
Taylor Stanley, Joseph Gordon
in Jerome Robbins' "The Goldberg Variations"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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