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New York City Ballet: Ballo della Regina, Kammermusik No. 2, Vienna Waltzes

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Ballo della Regina
Kammermusik No. 2
Vienna Waltzes

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
May 6, 2016

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Ballo Della Regina (1978): Music by Giuseppe Verdi (from Don Carlo), Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Ben Benson, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Performed by Tiler Peck, Gonzalo Garcia, Lauren King, Alexa Maxwell, Ashley Laracey, Erica Pereira, and the Company.

Balanchine’s ballet vision of pale pink, blue, and white, Ballo Della Regina, featured Principals Tiler Peck and Gonzalo Garcia. They led four women, Lauren King, Alexa Maxwell, Ashley Laracey, and Erica Pereira against a pastel, impressionistic backdrop of peach and teal. With a larger female Corps ensemble, the cast dances to Verdi's sumptuous score, led by Andrews Sill in the pit. Ms. Peck and Mr. Garcia, well matched for physicality and ebullience, added solo and duo flourishes for this fanciful, fluttery, flowing ballet. The Corps creates interesting figurative formations, all in reverent, regal refinement. After all, this is the Queen’s Ball, as Verdi’s score from Don Carlo suggests. But, where this could have been a stately, cerebral pas de deux, au contraire, Ms. Peck and Mr. Garcia infused each step and phrase with their utmost energy and enthusiasm. It was wonderful, in fact, to see Mr. Garcia in such fine form tonight. His balance and elevation were impressive. From the orchestra, I heard lovely, lilting flutes and woodwinds.

Kammermusik No. 2 (1978): Music by Paul Hindemith, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano Solo: Cameron Grant, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Abi Stafford, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Amar Ramasar, and the Company.

In complete contrast to Balanchine’s work above, Kammermusik No 2, scored to Hindemith, is severe, contemporary, and ephemeral. In fact, tonight’s program attests to Balanchine’s extraordinary versatility. With surreal piano effects, the two lead couples, Rebecca Krohn and Adrian Danchig-Waring, Abi Stafford and Amar Ramasar, enhanced Hindemith's edgy score with floating formations and dynamic demeanor. What’s even more versatile here is the Corps of eight men, no women, in Ben Benson’s striped, navy-grey unitards. The choreography is staccato, sudden, and serendipitous. Every gesture is deliberate and nuanced. Cameron Grant’s piano solo sounded at times like a glass harmonica, so atonal and stunning. Mark Stanley’s lighting adds shadowy effects.

Vienna Waltzes (1977): Music by Johann Strauss/Franz Lehár/Richard Strauss, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Clotilde Otranto, Performed by Teresa Reichlen, Tyler Angle, Megan Fairchild, Anthony Huxley, Erica Pereira, Troy Schumacher, Rebecca Krohn, Chase Finlay, Sara Mearns, Jared Angle, and the Company. The waltz was first popular in the late 1700's, when it was banned for immoral closeness in dancing. Balanchine explored the form of waltz in his choreographies, intensely in this work. This was Balanchine's homage to the age of imperial grandeur. The music selected is associated with the transformation of the waltz through the years and across society. These were Karinska's last costumes for City Ballet. (NYCB Notes).

The third very differently designed Balanchine work, tonight, was his 1977 Vienna Waltzes, with languid, forestial waltzes, a campy two-step polka, a lavish ballroom-in-gold waltz, and a formal, mirrored, black-white ballroom waltz. The Company was in rare form in this most incandescent and radiant ballet, one of Balanchine’s finest masterpieces. This five-part ballet-waltz is composed of five uniquely partnered ballets, each with its own series of orchestrated waltz music. Balanchine was a wizard to have imagined such dramatic visual development within the J. Strauss/Lehar/R. Strauss combined, eclectic score.

Rouben Ter-Arutunian's scenery has a thickly wooded forest rise to a wider woodland space, then it moves to lush, luxurious interiors, each scene unfolding, until the final scene is replete with wide chandeliers, backdrop mirror, and props of a Gala. Teresa Reichlen and Tyler Angle led the rapturous, first woodland scene, with Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley leading the second with joyful explosion. Erica Pereira and Troy Schumacher led the polka (I wish they would switch out those wigs), with Rebecca Krohn and Chase Finlay leading a ballroom scene. Sara Mearns and Jared Angle appeared with the previous leads in Richard Strauss' waltzes for the mirrored black-white ball. In the Corps, Gwyneth Muller and Joseph Gordon caught my eye.

Vienna Waltzes exudes elegance, a dreamlike series of sequences. In the forest, the couples embrace trees playfully, but in understated grace. The one sequence with humor is the Explosions Polka, and Ms. Pereira and Mr. Schumacher made the most of the youthful, vivacious scene. But, the final, fifth sequence, Der Rosenkavalier: Erste Walzerfolge, to Richard Strauss’ 1946 music, with women in white ball-gowns and heeled dance shoes, men in tuxedos, with the mirrored effect doubling the cast, should be seen on its own more often in Galas and special events. It opens slowly, as a ball would, couples arriving, then multiplying, then swirling in sensual glamour. The branch-like, tiny-lit chandeliers transport the audience to such sublime serenity. Kudos to George Balanchine for tonight’s three exceptional and highly individualized ballets.

Abi Stafford and Rebecca Krohn in Balanchine's "Kammermusik No. 2"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Teresa Reichlen and Tyler Angle in Balanchine's "Vienna Waltzes"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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