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New York City Ballet: Hallelujah Junction, Tarantella, Interplay, Glass Pieces
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New York City Ballet: Hallelujah Junction, Tarantella, Interplay, Glass Pieces

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Hallelujah Junction
Glass Pieces

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 17, 2015

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Hallelujah Junction (2001): Music by John Adams, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Kirsten Lund Nielsen, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Duo Pianists: Cameron Grant and Susan Walters, Performed by Lauren Lovette, Gonzalo Garcia, Daniel Ulbricht, Emilie Gerrity, Allen Peiffer, Lauren King, Daniel Applebaum, Erica Pereira, David Prottas, Brittany Pollack, and Troy Schumacher. John Adams, a New Englander, studied at Harvard. He was influenced by John Cage and Steve Reich, and he uses both electronic and instrumental motifs that combine romanticism and minimalism. (NYCB Notes).

Peter Martins’ 2001 Hallelujah Junction is a must-see-more-often masterpiece. I was thrilled that it was included this Season. On a dimly lit, raised stage, the duo pianists, Cameron Grant and Susan Walters, both of whom have provided remarkable solo enhancements to the vast City Ballet repertory, faced each other and created an electric and mesmerizing ambiance to Mr. Martins' brilliant choreography. In fact, this work is one of his most masterful and potent choreographic ventures. It is taut, with white on black in costumes and lighting, as well as outstanding focus and purpose in affect and persona. The ebullient cast of Lauren Lovette, Gonzalo Garcia, and Daniel Ulbricht gave a tour de force performance, with lightning spins and jumps on the beat. Daniel Ulbricht blazed about the stage, as the Lovette-Garcia duo partnered in pulse. The Adams score is evocative of Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Kudos to Mr. Martins, and kudos Mr. Grant, Ms. Walters, and the cast.

Tarantella (1964): Music by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Reconstructed and Orchestrated by Hershy Kay, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Daniel Capps, Piano Solo: Nancy McDill, Performed by Claire Von Enck and Spartak Hoxha. This music is from Gottschalk's "Grande Tarantelle for Piano and Orchestra". Gottschalk was well known in the Nineteenth Century as a pianist and composer from Louisiana. He was praised by Chopin and toured Europe. Hershy Kay was an orchestrator and composer of Musicals and Ballets. The Tarantella is a classical dance with instantaneous spins and directional changes.(NYCB Notes).

One of Peter Martins’ strengths as Ballet Master in Chief is his generosity in showcasing young Corps dancers in featured solos. Tonight, Claire Von Enck and Spartak Hoxha performed Balanchine’s Tarantella, with Daniel Capps conducting the Gottschalk score and Nancy McDill on piano. This ballet requires solo and duo dance, with a tambourine and attitude, ribbons flying and legs kicking percussively. Ms. Von Enck danced her rapid fouettés, while Mr. Hoxha flexed his muscles, leaping offstage to audience delight. They slapped the tambourines into their thighs and hips, shook them in the air, and pranced about. I look forward to more stage appearances of Ms. Von Enck and Mr. Hoxha, as tonight’s introduction was brief. Ms. McDill’s piano solos were scintillating. Karinska’s colorful costumes are iconic.

Interplay (1952): Music by Morton Gould, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Conductor: Daniel Capps, Piano Solo: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Meagan Mann, Brittany Pollack, Sarah Villwock, Lydia Wellington, Devin Alberda, Harrison Ball, Harrison Coll, and 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).

Tonight’s entire program is one of the most consistently energized of this Season. Jerome Robbins’ Interplay, imbued with jazz and pizzazz, is divided into four parts. Devin Alberda, in fine form, led “Free Play”, with the entire ensemble dressed in colorful tops and black leotards. Morton Gould’s upbeat buoyancy was especially helpful in the second part, “Horseplay”, with a captivating Harrison Ball spinning and jumping with dervish, en air. In “Byplay”, Brittany Pollack and Peter Walker, two stunning and sparkling dancers, created a witty, persuasive pas de deux, with slinky, lyrical frolicking. The final “Team Play” used shadows and other stunning lighting effects to rivet the eye. Rapid spins, pirouettes, splits, cartwheels, sliding, and campy athletics are the hallmarks of Robbins’ invention.

Glass Pieces (1983): Music by Philip Glass, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Production Design by Jerome Robbins and Ronald Bates, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Conductor: Daniel Capps, Performed by Ashley Laracey, Chase Finlay, Lauren King, Peter Walker, Lydia Wellington, Russell Janzen, Maria Kowroski, Adrian Danchig-Waring, and the Company.

Philip Glass' score, in Jerome Robbins’ Glass Pieces, is from “Akhnaten” and “Glassworks”, in 3/6 measures of repetitive music. The aesthetic effect is completely mesmerizing, as one does not want this work to end. The “Rubric” movement is set against a rubric-designed backdrop of cream and black, unfolding in repetitive motion, matching the music in pure, pulsating imagery. Ashley Laracey and Chase Finlay were the first couple, who freeze in motion in lookalike, glossy unitards. Lauren King and Peter Walker were the second couple, and Lydia Wellington and Russell Janzen were the third. Each duo expresses the music’s repetitive pulse in stylized serenity. The Corps remains in studied seriousness, an eloquent sense of training. The “Facades” movement is poignant and gripping, in its slow, searing theme. Maria Kowroski and Adrian Danchig-Waring carried the pas de deux with astute, seasoned strength. For the final “Akhnaten” movement, the male Corps runs with fists and arms flexing in motion, before the full Corps combines for striking rhythmic synchronization. Glass Pieces, a dramatic and uncomplicated work, closed tonight’s electrically charged program. Kudos to Daniel Capps for conducting the precise, intense score.

The Cast of Robbins' "Glass Pieces"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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