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New York City Ballet: Estancia, Pictures at an Exhibition, Everywhere We Go

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Pictures at an Exhibition
Everywhere We Go

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
Resident Choreographer: Justin Peck
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
April 20, 2016

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Clotilde Otranto

Estancia (2010): Music by Alberto Ginastera, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Scenic Design by Santiago Calatrava, Costumes by Carlos Campos, Costumes Supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Singer: Steven LaBrie, Performed by Tiler Peck as Country Girl, Tyler Angle as City Boy, Andrew Veyette as Wild Horse, and the Company as Wild Horses, Estancia Workers, and City Folk.

Tonight’s first night of my Spring Season was gorgeous. Wheeldon’s ballets are always exotic and romantic, but, in tonight’s performance, particularly the Pas de Deux for Tyler Angle as City Boy, and Tiler Peck as Country Girl, there was a magical ambiance. Everything came together, as it had not before. Clotilde Otranto’s orchestral guidance of the Ginastera score, with notes held for effect, pauses, sinewy strings, and sumptuous brass, enhanced each moment. There was such romantic drama, that I couldn’t help thinking of Wheeldon’s Pas de Deux for After the Rain and Carousel (A Dance). In fact, I was wondering why this Pas de Deux isn’t seen as an extrapolated Pas de Deux in Galas and special dance events. The youthful fervor of this duo, with Mr. Angle’s perfect partnering, was stunning, especially when Ms. Peck turns and pirouettes against Mr. Angle’s torso.

As Wild Horse, Andrew Veyette is cast to perfection, punchy, comic, and spirited. Other key elements in this performance were the quartet of female corps Wild Horses, as well as the Company as Estancia (Argentine Pampas ranch) workers and City Folk, dancing against Santiago Calatrava’s exquisite rolling hills and shifting, sun-swept landscape. The percussive, rambunctious choreography, with horses tossing and galloping, with country folk whipping lassos, with city folk moving in poised sophistication, and with contrasting cultures and old-fashioned romance, is must-see-again-soon. Steven LaBrie, singer of the spoken and sung Spanish lyrics, was in peak form. Carlos Campos’ costumes look better on each viewing. Mark Stanley’s lighting adds sunrise and sunset tones throughout.

Pictures at an Exhibition (2014): Music by Modest Mussorgsky, Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Costumes by Adeline Andre, Projection Design by Wendall K. Harrington, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Cameron Grant, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Lauren Lovette, Sara Mearns, Gretchen Smith, Indiana Woodward, Tyler Angle, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Gonzalo Garcia, Joseph Gordon, Amar Ramasar.

Following the above, busy ballet, Pictures at an Exhibition, by Ratmansky, another busy ballet, was spectacular on its own. High points included Cameron Grant’s superb mastery of the magnificent Mussorgsky piano score and Wendall K. Harrington’s projections of Kandinsky’s “Color Study Squares with Concentric Circles”, shown close-up or distant, as abstract, prime color, fragmentary images. Additionally, I was drawn to Adeline Andre’s costumes, like silky thin painter smocks, worn over leotards, for women, with circular or square colorful shapes, and with tights and tank tops, for men, also designed with bits of Kandinsky’s designs. Mr. Ratmansky draws on his Russian heritage generously, tonally, and visually, with the choreography emerging as international, an art audience that takes on the life form of the contemporary art it observes.

Mussorgsky had been inspired to compose this piano composition upon the sudden death of his friend, artist and architect, Viktor Hartmann. After exploring a tribute art exhibition of Hartmann’s works, Mussorgsky composed this 10-movement work, plus interludes (“Promenade”), as one might walk about the gallery, absorbing the ongoing thoughts and experience. Ratmansky’s ballet actually has 16 segments, named slightly differently than the names I researched, with the ballet including five Promenades. Those Promenades eventually feature the entire ensemble of ten, which romps about with little emotionality or passion, but rather, with youthful vivacity and casual relationships.

Featured segments include “Tuileries”, a solo for Tiler Peck, evoking the infamous, regally manicured, Parisian gardens, “The Old Castle”, a pas de deux for Sterling Hyltin and Tyler Angle, with Ms. Hyltin standing, one leg on Mr. Angle’s torso, reaching as high as a turret, “The Market at Limoges”, for Lauren Lovette and Gonzalo Garcia, “Samuel Goldenberg & Schmuӱle”, for Gretchen Smith and Adrian Danchig-Waring, and those evolving interludes, called “Promenade”, especially one that showcases Gonzalo Garcia in solo performance. It’s thin dramatically, but thick with textured imagery and personalities.

Everywhere We Go (2014): Music by Sufjan Stevens, Commissioned by New York City Ballet, Orchestrated by Sufijan Stevens and Michael P. Atkinson, Choreography by Justin Peck, Costumes by Janie Taylor, Costumes Supervised by Marc Happel, Scenery by Karl Jensen, Scenery Supervised by Penny Jacobus, Lighting by Brandon Sterling Baker, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Rebecca Krohn, Tiler Peck, Andrew Veyette, Robert Fairchild, Amar Ramasar, Teresa Reichlen, and the Company.

Here was another large cast, busy ballet, with numerous “movements” – nine, the third and final of the evening of contemporary works. I would have preferred more differentiated programming. Peck’s Everywhere We Go is replete with choreographic fireworks and electricity (as I noted in the midst of the propulsion). Sufjan Stevens’ commissioned score, with the movements numbered and labeled, like “The Shadows We Fall Behind” and “I Am In The House And I Have The Key”, evokes Bernstein and brassy blues. No fewer than seven Principals and three Soloists are onstage, in Janie Taylor’s eye-catching costumes, with a backdrop of Karl Jensen’s black-white, geometric, shifting shapes. Brandon Sterling Baker’s lighting design is key, not only for the backdrop, but also for foreboding and frenetic shadows. Maestro Otranto kept the eclectic, modern score synchronized with each movement’s variations.

The choreography of this Peck ballet is fragmented and cohesive, at once, with ensemble jack-in-the-box, two-foot hops, a bit of turning “bunny hop” steps, and several solos and pas de deux. In choreographed masculinity, Robert Fairchild and Amar Ramasar were intense and severe. Sterling Hyltin is partnered by Andrew Veyette, Rebecca Krohn is partnered by Robert Fairchild, and Tiler Peck by Amar Ramasar. Teresa Reichlen has a lead solo role, with aplomb. The Corps and Soloist ensemble are dynamic in a floor-sliding motif, that occurs and reoccurs, to change the level of motion from mid-air to against the stage. Every surface and space is devoured. The style and mood are eclectic, with sudden, spatial shifts in tempo and style, matching the bristling, bubbly, buoyant score. Busby Berkeley’s kaleidoscopic films come to mind, with fragments of dance imagery merging for a camera shot of momentary stillness.

Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle in Wheeldon's "Estancia"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Joseph Gordon, Tyler Angle, and Cast in Ratmansky's "Pictures at an Exhibition"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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