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New York City Ballet: Divertimento No. 15, Episodes, Vienna Waltzes
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New York City Ballet: Divertimento No. 15, Episodes, Vienna Waltzes

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New York City Ballet
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Divertimento No. 15
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
September 22, 2016

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Divertimento No. 15 (1956): Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrew Litton, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Lauren King, Tiler Peck, Ana Sophia Scheller, Abi Stafford, Daniel Applebaum, Andrew Scordato, Andrew Veyette, and the Company. A Divertimento does not have a fixed structure, and this particular one is choreographed for eight dancers and adds a cadenza for violin and viola. (NYCB Notes). Mozart wrote this Divertimento playfully and classically, and Balanchine matched that structure with eye-catching choreographic phrasing. Andrew Litton, Music Director, was in the pit. In the “Allegro” movement, Sterling Hyltin, Lauren King, Tiler Peck, Ana Sophia Scheller, and Daniel Applebaum particularly caught my eye for rapidly whirling en air spins and leg thrusts, fouetté finishes, and staccato jumps. Abi Stafford, along with Ms. Peck, notably created Balanchine’s balletic shape and sharp motif.

In the “Theme and Variations” movement, Ms. King’s “First Variation” was velvety and regal, Ms. Scheller’s “Third Variation” was jubilant and fluid, and Ms. Peck’s “Sixth Variation” was pristine and confident. The “Minuet” movement had eight female corps dancers in rhythmic elegance, and, in the “Andante”, Ms. Peck and Ms. King avoided angularity, finding a sensual tone in this delicious Divertimento. In the “Finale”, the entire ensemble danced with shifting directions and dizzying dervish. This was a perfectly organic ensemble, with lovely visuals, extra energy, and glowing enthusiasm. Kudos to Karinska for her satiny, white-yellow-blue tutus and hair pieces for women and lovely patterned jackets for men. I hope this ballet returns to regular repertory. It was last reviewed on these pages in 2009.

Episodes (1959): Music from the orchestral works of Anton von Webern, Choreography by George Balanchine, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Clotilde Otranto, Performed by Megan LeCrone, Zachary Catazaro, Claire Kretzschmar, Ask la Cour, Ashly Isaacs, Taylor Stanley, Rebecca Krohn, Adrian Danchig-Waring, and the Company. Balanchine was enthusiastic about von Webern’s music, which he felt left “the mind free to ‘see’ the dancing”. Martha Graham originally choreographed for Balanchine “Episodes I”, danced by her Company and four NYCB dancers, but this section has not been presented since 1960. (NYCB Notes).

I always look forward to this austere and severe von Webern score, and with Clotilde Otranto in the pit, my expectations were realized. The second work in tonight’s all-Balanchine program, Episodes is abstract, with upswept arms and the ethereal beauty of ensemble friezes. The women's black leotards with flesh tights and men's white/black motif all enhance the sophisticated choreography. Megan LeCrone was well cast with Zachary Catazaro in the Symphony, Opus 21 pas de deux. But, it was Claire Kretzschmar and Ask la Cour’s Five Pieces, Opus 10 that added a striking change in mood and lighting, with sensual, mesmerizing spotlights. The duo was surreal and intertwined. Their timing and partnering were to the second of the faintest of sounds. Ms. Kretzschmar gazed out at the audience with mastery and maturity.

Ashly Isaacs and Taylor Stanley’s Concerto, Opus 24 was also magnetic. They exuded allure and theatricality. Rebecca Krohn and Adrian Danchig-Waring led the final Ricercata in six voices from Bach's "Musical Offering". Ms. Krohn was filled with musicality, and, as always, scintillating and gripping. The entire company was eloquent. Maestro Otranto conducted the poignant, percussive passages with their tiny, exotic effects with ease. Kudos to Ronald Bates and Mark Stanley for their fascinating lighting concepts.

Vienna Waltzes (1977): Music by Johann Strauss II/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: Andrew Litton, Performed by Savannah Lowery, Tyler Angle, Megan Fairchild, Joaquin De Luz, Erica Pereira, Troy Schumacher, Teresa Reichlen, Ask la Cour, 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).

Mr. Litton returned to the pit for the Strauss II/Lehar/Strauss waltzes in this sumptuous, five-part ballet. The Company was in rare form in this most incandescent and radiant ballet, a Balanchine masterpiece. This expansive array of waltzes, in a woodland forest, in a dim ballroom, and against a black-white mirrored backdrop, are almost like five unique ballets, each with its own orchestrated waltzes. Balanchine was a wizard to have imagined such dramatic visual development within the sophisticated, transporting score. Rouben Ter-Arutunian's scenery is worthy of a grand award. Savannah Lowery and Tyler Angle led the rapturous, first woodland scene, with Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz leading the second with joyful ebullience. Erica Pereira and Troy Schumacher led the bouncing polkas, followed by Teresa Reichlen and Ask la Cour leading an elegant ballroom scene. Soon, Sara Mearns and Jared Angle appeared with the previous leads in Richard Strauss' waltzes for the mirrored, black-white ball. Kudos to George Balanchine.

Tiler Peck, Andrew Veyette, and the Cast of
Balanchine's "Divertimento No. 15"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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