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New York City Ballet: Glass Pieces, Thou Swell, Stars and Stripes
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New York City Ballet: Glass Pieces, Thou Swell, Stars and Stripes

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Glass Pieces
Thou Swell
Stars and Stripes

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
October 4, 2016

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Andrews Sill

Glass Pieces (1983): Music by Philip Glass, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Production Design by Jerome Robbins and Ronald Bates, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Performed by Ashley Hod, Daniel Applebaum, Meagan Mann, Peter Walker, Laine Habony, Cameron Dieck, Sara Mearns, Adrian Danchig-Waring, and the Corps de Ballet. Jerome Robbins’ Glass Pieces, with Philip Glass’ “Glassworks” repetitive score, always plays in my mind for days. As anticipated, it was hypnotic and engrossing. Rubric, with a tiny-squared, beige grid backdrop, brings out the Corps in ever-rushing walks, stretches, and turns, while one of three ballet couples at a time, in pastel unitards, stops the ensemble in its tracks, to partner in duo elegance. Tonight’s three duos were Ashley Hod and Daniel Applebaum, Meagan Mann and Peter Walker, and Laine Habony and Cameron Dieck. All three couples were compelling, with stunning serenity.

I am continually struck by Facades, with the silhouetted female corps holding hands, walking like moving keys on the piano. Sara Mearns and Adrian Danchig-Waring, in their pas de deux, were magnetic in bent arm-leg extensions, like crawling crustaceans. They glowed with fascination, against the small, slow motion silhouettes. Both Principals shift their posture in gripping shapes, depending on mood and music. Akhnaten, the third movement, features pulsating percussion, with the male Corps bonding and dashing in primal hunched positions. Soon circling females appear, followed by the full Corps in ever-shifting ensembles. Among the male Corps, Joseph Gordon, Harrison Ball, and Preston Chamblee moved with extraordinary intensity. Glass Pieces ends in a flash.

Thou Swell (2003): . Music by Richard Rodgers, Music Arranged by Gene Kelly, Orchestrations by Don Sebesky, Choreography by Peter Martins, Scenery by Robin Wagner, Costumes by Peter Copping of Oscar de le Renta, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Singers, Leah Horowitz and Joseph Eletto, Trio: Alan Moverman on Piano, Ron Wasserman on Bass, James Saporito on Drums, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Robert Fairchild, Rebecca Krohn, Amar Ramasar, Sara Mearns, Jared Angle, Teresa Reichlen, Ask la Cour, and the Company.

Peter Martins’ Thou Swell is always a draw and a high point of the evening. The Richard Rodgers songs, like “Getting to Know You”, “My Heart Stood Still”, and “The Lady Is a Tramp”, are played by City Ballet Orchestra, tonight conducted by Andrews Sill, with the requisite three-man jazz trio of orchestra members and two guest singers. Leah Horowitz and Joseph Eletto, the Guest Singers, were especially entrancing in vocal expression tonight. Robin Wagner’s scenery has a mirror bent back with elegant stairs. It achieves the concept of an onstage nightclub, with bistro tables and the Corps as waiters.

Amar Ramasar partnered Rebecca Krohn (in Peter Copping’s cut-out, long, fuchsia gown and darker fuchsia, furry stole), who grabbed the attention in dance after dance. The musical arrangements and orchestrations are rapturous. Mr. Ramasar caught Ms. Krohn when she leaped off the stairs, before he spun in aplomb. Ms. Krohn was dazzling and intriguing throughout. With the immediacy of the live singers and onstage trio, on piano, bass, and drums, the audience is swept in. Sterling Hyltin was partnered by Robert Fairchild, who recently returned from his Broadway lead in An American in Paris. Mr. Fairchild and Ms. Hyltin seized the stage and never let go. The men, in black tuxes, were on fire tonight, making the most of the high-rhythm dance tunes. But, Mr. Fairchild wins the wow-award, with dizzying spins, dashes, and ballroom partnering extraordinaire. And, Sterling Hyltin’s green-fringed mini gown transported the crowd.

Sara Mearns and Jared Angle lusciously spun about, and Mr. Angle even took a few bars at the keyboard, in between hopping about in youthful fervor as if he were on a date. Ask la Cour, who partnered the magnetic Teresa Reichlen in a sexy, slinky, bare-back gown, was beaming and took extra risks, with high kicks to his head that matched the long-limbed Ms. Reichlen. I still wish that this ballet would be expanded with a story line for two or three acts. It would be a smashing success with a high society theme. Maybe even a little extra drama for the onstage jazz trio, which was superb.

Stars and Stripes (1958): Music adapted and orchestrated by Hershy Kay after music by John Philip Sousa, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by David Hays, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Erica Pereira, Savannah Lowery, Daniel Ulbricht, Megan Fairchild, Tyler Angle, and the Company. Balanchine created five "campaigns" with changing Sousa themes. This ballet was performed for the opening ceremonies for the New York State Theater. (NYCB Notes).

Balanchine’s tribute to his adopted country has rousing refrains of John Philip Sousa. Where in New York do we ever hear this music, except the July 4 fireworks? Balanchine developed this piece into five Campaigns, with five Company choreographies or duets. Karinska's costumes, like toy soldiers and dolls, with military hats and feathers, large buttons and tutus, perfectly set the mood for chivalry and daring. Of special note were Daniel Ulbricht’s always vibrant performance as leader of the Third Regiment, “Thunder and Gladiator”, and Megan Fairchild and Tyler Angle’s sensational duet as “Liberty Bell and El Capitan”. Mr. Angle and Ms. Fairchild expanded each other’s energy and charisma. They presented multiple entrechats, punctuated with personality and pizzazz. Ms. Fairchild, always the extreme dancer, was a spirited sprite, with extra high extensions, a wink, and a nod. Both Principals were confident and buoyant. Savannah Lowery and Erica Pereira executed their leads of the Second (“Rifle Regiment”) and First (“Corcoran Cadets”) Campaigns with personality and charm, even catching a baton en air. The Corps was meticulous in its signature Balanchine formations, at times reminiscent of a chorus line of Rockettes.

New York City Ballet in
Robbins' "Glass Pieces"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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