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New York City Ballet: Ash, Sonatas and Interludes, Tarantella, Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue
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New York City Ballet: Ash, Sonatas and Interludes, Tarantella, Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Sonatas and Interludes
Rōdē,ō: Four Dance Episodes
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue

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: Andrew Litton
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects: Robert Daniels
Associate Dir. Communications: Katharina Plumb
Communications Associate: Kina Poon
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 3, 2015 Matinee

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews.)

Conductor: Andrews Sill

Ash (1991): Music by Michael Torke, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Steven Rubin, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Ashly Isaacs, Taylor Stanley, Sara Adams, Spartak Hoxha, Laine Habony, Sebastian Villarini-Velez, Ashley Hod, Devin Alberda, Unity Phelan, Cameron Dieck.

I’m always happy to see a Peter Martins revival piece, as they’re usually brimming with ebullience and youthful energy. This was the case with his 1991 Ash, seen in contrasting shades of blue, purple, and black, and set to a Michael Torke score. Taylor Stanley and Ashly Isaacs partnered for a lyrical, lively duet, in which Mr. Stanley ends up on his knee in rhythmic momentum. Devin Alberda, part of an eight-dancer ensemble, was dashing in his mid-air leaps, and Mr. Stanley also commanded attention with spins and slide landings. I look forward to seeing Ash again in future seasons.

Sonatas and Interludes (1988): Music by John Cage, Choreography by Richard Tanner, Costumes by Carole Divet, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Pianist: Cameron Grant, Performed by Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar.

Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar were the sole duo onstage for Richard Tanner’s 1988 Sonatas and Interludes, with its atonal, solo, prepared piano score by John Cage. This piece requires intensity, chemistry, and skill, to fuse charged imagery with the charged tonality. And, today everything was in order, with Ms. Mearns and Mr. Ramasar, in white unitards and gold belts, magnetically poised and purposefully momentous. Figures, such as arms held high, dancers stretching back, toward opposite distance, were memorable. Each percussive sound from the prepared piano generated a leg lift, a spin, a connection. Pushing and pulling of energy abound, as Mr. Ramasar and Ms. Mearns, hands held, lean back then lean into each other’s torsos, legs held back. At other moments, the dancers stand in parallel closeness.

Tarantella (1964): Music by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Reconstructed and Orchestrated by Hershy Kay, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano Solo: Nancy McDill, Performed by Ashley Bouder and Antonio Carmena. 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).

Balanchine’s Tarantella was the ideal ballet to follow a pause, after the atonal, edgy work just seen. To Louis Gottschalk’s score, tantalizingly played by Nancy McDill, Ashley Bouder and Antonio Carmena presented a more muscular dance than we usually see. Ms. Bouder was gesturally understated but wildly fervent, while Mr. Carmena was seen in superb form, leaping, spinning, lifting Ms. Bouder off into the wings. With a burgundy and white Karinska tutu and percussive tambourine, Ms. Bouder achieved astounding mid-air, elevated jumps, upward and sideways. Mr. Carmena was flirtatious, attentive, and on fire, with his red head scarf and cropped, Italian styled costume. The audience was vocally enthused.

‘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 Sara Mearns, Amar Ramasar, Anthony Huxley, Daniel Ulbricht, Andrew Veyette, Daniel Applebaum, Craig Hall, Allen Peiffer, Andrew Scordato, Taylor Stanley, and a male corps ensemble of six.

And, after the first intermission, the audience remained enthused for Justin Peck’s recent choreography, fancifully called ‘Rōdē,ō: Four Dance Episodes. In an homage to Agnes de Mille’s 1950 Rodeo, with the cowgirl trying to get attention from the guys, Mr. Peck includes a lone woman, here Sara Mearns, among a cast of fifteen men! The score is “Four Episodes” from Copland’s Rodeo, in an abstract version of Ms. de Mille’s ranch-scene concept. Although I had seen Mr. Peck’s ballet a couple of times last season, it was entirely new and fresh tonight, with this stunning cast. In the opening curtain, men race across the stage like wild horses, breaking off in dizzying spins, imitating lassos. And, in the moments before the closing curtain, the cast resembles a rodeo, with the ensemble spinning and dancing as if the festivities have no end.

In between, the ballet offers a virtuosic solo for Daniel Ulbricht and a fervent trio for Andrew Veyette, Anthony Huxley, and Mr. Ulbricht. Mr. Ramasar and Ms. Mearns dance a poignant, adagio pas de deux, as he spins her, then slowly lifts her, again and again. Craig Hall, Daniel Applebaum, and Taylor Stanley caught my eye in the ensemble. The two-tone unitards, by Reid Bartelme, Harriet Jung, and Mr. Peck are designed in tones you might see down on the ranch.

Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1968): Music by Richard Rodgers (from On Your Toes, 1936), Re-Orchestrated by Hershy Kay, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Jo Mielziner, Costumes by Irene Sharaff, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Robert Fairchild, Teresa Reichlen, Preston Chamblee, David Prottas, and the Company.

After four fantastic, matinee ballets, we were treated to yet another, Balanchine’s incredibly entertaining Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, with Richard Rodgers’ score from On Your Toes. And, to add even more luster to the moment, Robert Fairchild had an afternoon off from his Broadway lead in An American in Paris. As the Hoofer, Mr. Fairchild partnered Teresa Reichlen in her role debut as the Striptease Girl. They brought down the house in Ms. Reichlen’s long-limbed, high kicking, back-bended pas de deux, held by her beloved Hoofer. And again, the audience went wild for Mr. Fairchild’s endless tap dance, toward the curtain, as he dances for his life, with a Gangster (Aaron Sanz) in the theater box. It was a double treat this past week having Mr. Fairchild back on Koch stage, including his appearance in Thou Swell at the Gala.

Tonight’s Policemen, Spartak Hoxha, Troy Schumacher, and Giovanni Villalobos, were hilariously brilliant in a “Three Blind Mice” skit. Preston Chamblee, a rising star, was a perfect Big Boss, while Harrison Coll was requisitely campy as the Thug. David Prottas, as Morrosine, a premier danseur noble, opened the ballet, introducing the coy drama.

Kudos to all.

Teresa Reichlen and Robert Fairchild
in George Balanchine’s "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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