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New York City Ballet: Symphonic Dances, Rodeo, Four Dance Episodes, Mercurial Manoeuvres

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Symphonic Dances
’Rōdē,ō: Four Dance Episodes
Mercurial Manoeuvres

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
Communications Associate, Kina Poon
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 21, 2015

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Guest Conductor: Paolo Paroni

Symphonic Dances (1994): Music by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Teresa Reichlen, Zachary Catazaro, Meaghan Dutton-O’Hara, Unity Phelan, Ashley Hod, Indiana Woodward, Harrison Ball, Spartak Hoxha, Joseph Gordon, Peter Walker, and the Company.

Tonight was my first experience, that I recall, with Peter Martins’ 1994 Symphonic Dances. The score is Rachmaninoff’s 1940 score, of the same title. Guest Conductor Paolo Paroni was in the pit, and the tempestuous, Russian, musical motif was compelling. Santo Loquasto designed billowing, blue, patterned, Russian shirts and ballet boots for the men, with rust-blue-green, Russian peasant dresses and rust tiaras for the women.

Teresa Reichlen and Zachary Catazaro, both tall, poised, magnetic, and bursting with rhythm, were perfectly cast. Both Ms. Reichlen and Mr. Catazaro presented choreography with arms wide out, and roundly high up, while creating circles with their legs that matched the spinning, instrumental refrains. There are two pas de deux and ensemble dances, as well, with athletic buoyancy and bravura . Four women and four men make up the lead ensemble, for partnered dance accompaniment. In this ensemble, Joseph Gordon particularly stood out, with remarkable confidence and posture. He draws the eye, even in the smallest of roles. An additional ensemble of eight women and eight men filled the stage with rapid swirling, crisscrossing, chain-dancing, and soulful ebullience.

’Rōdē,ō: Four Dance Episodes (2015): Music by Aaron Copland, Choreography by Justin Peck, Costumes by Reid Bartelme, Harriet Jung, Justin Peck, Lighting by Brandon Sterling Baker, Performed by Brittany Pollack, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Gonzalo Garcia, Daniel Ulbricht, Andrew Veyette, Daniel Applebaum, Preston Chamblee, Allen Peiffer, Andrew Scordato, Taylor Stanley, and a male corps ensemble of six.

Justin Peck has taken Aaron Copland’s score for his recent work in four “Episodes”. Mr. Peck’s ’Rōdē,ō has little similarity to Agnes de Mille’s work, Rodeo, recently revived across the Plaza, with its tomboyish, cowgirl-cowboy plot. In tonight’s performance, Adrian Danchig-Waring filled in for Amar Ramasar, and Brittany Pollack filled in for Sara Mearns. I do look forward to seeing this piece with the original cast, as this was my first experience seeing the Peck choreography. Fifteen men appear in the ballet, and but one woman, evoking the de Mille work, but this piece is abstract, plotless. One might think Texas or Wyoming, a summer evening, beer and hay and a dance hall. Ms. Pollack is a brisk, spritely, effusive dancer, although she does not exude Ms. Mearns’ gravitas and depth of emotionality. Yet, Ms. Pollack, a soloist, has time to expand. Mr. Danchig-Waring is a mesmerizing stage presence, but the chemistry with Ms. Pollack in the third Episode pas de deux would not equal that of Ms. Mearns and Mr. Ramasar, although tonight’s duo was energized and entertaining. I look forward to seeing the original duo cast in the future, although, at one point, Mr. Danchig-Waring expressively bent down and pulled the energy of a drum roll with lights sparkling like fireworks.

Daniel Ulbricht, one of the leads, performed fouettés, spinning rapidly then slowly, to the delight of the crowd. Andrew Veyette and Gonzalo Garcia had elevated jumps in which they spun tightly en air. These three leads, Mr. Veyette, Mr. Garcia, and Mr. Ulbricht, led the first Episode. The second Episode was danced by five male soloists/corps, Daniel Applebaum, Preston Chamblee, Allen Peiffer, Andrew Scordato, and Taylor Stanley. It was Mr. Stanley who mostly caught my eye, with his piercing gaze and stylized poise. Yet, this dance for five men was imbued with casual charm and languid lyricism. The third Episode is discussed above, and the fourth Episode was danced ebulliently by the full company. Costumes, by Reid Bartelme, Mr. Peck, and Harriet Jung, were summer casual, for an outdoorsy aura. .

Mercurial Manoeuvres (2000): Music by Dmitri Shostakovich, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Carole Divet, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Cameron Grant, Trumpet: Ray Mase, Performed by Tiler Peck, Tyler Angle, Anthony Huxley, Sara Adams, Kristen Segin, and the Company.

More and more, I admire Christopher Wheeldon, as his older and more recent ballets become increasingly mesmerizing and memorable. Tonight’s music, Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor, was played by Cameron Grant, on Piano, Raymond Mase, on trumpet, and City Ballet Orchestra, once again led by Paolo Paroni. New York balletomanes have heard this music across the Plaza, in another recent work, but nothing beats Mr. Wheeldon’s 2000, Mercurial Manoeuvres. With wild, rapid piano and percussive trills, the crème de la crème of the company brings life to the very air above the stage in effervescent jumps and dashes. Anthony Huxley stood out brightly against the expansive red-blue wall hangings, drawing the eye to his rhythmic spins and generosity of spirit. The rambunctious score filled Koch Theater with jazzy classicism, as the dancers matched the staccato, tonal punctuations with geometric lines of dance that intersect and move.

Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle danced the second “Lento” movement with spark and sensuality. Mr. Huxley was on balance, focused on the audience. Sara Adams and Kristen Segin, also in lead roles, danced solos and duos with Mr. Huxley. Among the Corps, Alexa Maxwell and Silas Farley caught my eye.

Adrian Danchig-Waring and Brittany Pollack
in Peck's "'Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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