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New York City Ballet: Square Dance, Harlequinade

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Square Dance

Ballet in Two Acts

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 24, 2015

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Clotilde Otranto

Square Dance (1957): Music by Arcangelo Corelli and Antonio Vivaldi, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Anthony Huxley, and the Company. Balanchine wrote, "The American style of classical dancing, its supple sharpness and richness of metrical invention, its superb preparation for risks, and its high spirits were some of the things I was trying to show in this ballet." (NYCB Notes).

In tonight’s performance of Balanchine’s Square Dance. Ashley Bouder and Anthony Huxley were both propulsive and entertaining, but, as a duo, were miscast. Both have vivacity and charm, but Mr. Huxley is better in ensemble or solo dance, as his partnering skills lack heft and depth. Mr. Huxley was superb in The Steadfast Tin Soldier, a story character role, but, in a duo, abstract lead, Ms. Bouder needs a partner like Joaquin De Luz or Gonzalo Garcia, with more outsized personality and muscular maturity. However, the Bouder-Huxley duo created lyricism in the last movement, which is highly structured in rhythmic motifs. The Company in square dance and classical motifs was outstanding.

Harlequinade, Ballet in Two Acts (1965): Music by Riccardo Drigo, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery and Costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by (in Act I, The House of Cassandre) Robert La Fosse, Tiler Peck, David Prottas, Daniel Ulbricht, Erica Pereira, Joaquin De Luz, Emilie Gerrity, Ghaleb Kayali, and the Company, Performed by (in Act II, An Enchanted Park) the cast from Act I, plus Lauren King and the Company. Students from School of American Ballet appear in multitudes in Act II.

Balanchine follows the tradition of the commedia dell’arte. These were humorous, slapstick comedies with masks, such as Pierrot, the Harlequin, and Columbine. The popular tune, later known as “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”, was included in the score by Drigo. Drigo, from Italy, lived and worked in Russia for over 40 years with artists from opera and ballet. (NYCB Notes).

Tonight was my only experience with Balanchine’s full-length, Harlequinade, since its 2005 presentation, with its enchanting score by Drigo and quintessentially charming, storybook sets and costumes by Ter-Arutunian. Columbine's (Tiler Peck) father (David Prottas) tries to steer his daughter away from Harlequin (Joaquin De Luz) and toward a rich, old man (Robert La Fosse). The father's servant, Pierrot (Daniel Ulbricht), tries to assist his employer's intentions, but Pierrot's wife, Pierrette (Erica Pereira), is on Harlequin's side. A Good Fairy (Emilie Gerrity) adds wealth to Harlequin's pockets, and the father quickly relents and allows the second act wedding to take place. Act II includes a full complement of children, dressed in colorful and striking designs, with boys in clownish, tummy-enhancing costumes.

Mr. De Luz was in dynamic, delightful form, in striped body suit with matted, black hair. As a seasoned duo, Mr. De Luz and Ms. Peck embodied the upbeat, fairy-tale qualities of youthful love, and their leaps and lifts were exhilarating. Daniel Ulbricht and Erica Pereira were in physical and lyrical sync, with frolicking feats to highlight Act I. Emilie Gerrity, as the Good Fairy (La Bonne Fée), was well cast, with her ingénue characterization. The Act II choreography is Balanchine at his brightest and most witty, and the seemingly hundreds of cherubic School of American Ballet dancers, in circular, winding, and marching fashion, joined the Corps in sensational entertainment. Lauren King performed with aplomb as lead Alouette. It was a thrill to see Robert La Fosse again, as he adds elegance and glow to the stage. Clotilde Otranto, tonight’s full-evening maestro, conducted in a buoyant, brilliant array of dynamic musicality. Kudos to George Balanchine.

The Cast of Balanchine's "Harlequinade"
with Students of School of American Ballet
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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