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New York City Ballet: Here and Now

- Onstage with the Dancers

New York City Ballet
Here and Now
(NYC Ballet Website)

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 Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Fayçal Karoui
Managing Director, Communications, Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns
Manager, Press Relations, Joe Guttridge
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 31, 2008

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).
Conductor: Fayçal Karoui

Rococo Variations (2008): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Cellist: Fred Zlotkin, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Giovanni Villalobos, Sara Mearns, and Adrian Danchig-Waring. Fred Zlotkin’s solo cello warmly imbued Christopher Wheeldon’s recent ballet, set to Tschaikovsky, with musical luster. Wheeldon’s choreography for two couples includes mirrored arm pinwheels, stage expanses en pointe, and alternating pas de deux, all in classically infused, but contemporary motifs. Sterling Hyltin and Giovanni Villalobos are well matched for physicality, brimming with youthful vigor, and Sara Mearns and Adrian Danchig-Waring both have an ethereal, sophisticated presentation. At one point, partners are switched, with interesting results. Holly Hynes’ brown-gold costumes add rich regality.

Oltremare (2008): Music by Bruno Moretti (commissioned by NYC Ballet), Choreography by Mauro Bigonzetti, Costumes by Mauro Bigonzetti and Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Tyler Angle, Tiler Peck, Amar Ramasar, Teresa Reichlen, Ana Sophia Scheller, Maya Collins, Amanda Hankes, Georgina Pazcoguin, Jonathan Stafford, Andrew Veyette, Jason Fowler, Vincent Paradiso, and Sean Suozzi. Oltremare is the third ballet choreographed by Mauro Bigonzetti for NYC Ballet and also the third that is set to a score by Bruno Moretti. This score is for 21 musicians and features the accordion. “Oltremare” means “beyond the sea” and relates to the sadness of leaving one’s homeland for new journeys, as well as the joy of discovering happiness in the new country. (NYCB Notes).

This season, Bruno Moretti’s Oltremare, set to Mauro Bigonzetti’s ethnic score, seemed much more nuanced, with extreme emotional affects of the immigrant state of mind. Suitcases serve as visual props for the condition of the alienated and lonely souls, and some rare and exciting performances ensued. In particular, Andrew Veyette danced with new zeal and technique, leaps and spins that conquered the stage. Georgina Pazcoguin and Amar Ramasar both succeeded in the combination of spirit and physicality in very persuasive dance. As the music swells, so does the nature of the choreography, and Maria Kowroski, Tiler Peck, Tyler Angle, Teresa Reichlen, and Ana Sophia Scheller all caught my eye for depth of theatricality and energy.

River of Light (1998): Music by Charles Wuorinen (commissioned by NYC Ballet), Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: Charles Wuorinen, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Savannah Lowery, Teresa Reichlen, Jared Angle, Robert Fairchild, and Ask la Cour. It was good to see Ask la Cour, who seems to dance infrequently this season. His elongated physicality is unparalleled among the male dancers, and only matched by Kaitlyn Gilliland (not in this dance), among the females. With Charles Wuorinen conducting his own commissioned score, six dancers matched in red, black, or white, partnered together and alternately, to atonal chimes and spinning lifts. I find Pater Martins’ choreography fresh and inviting, and River of Light is no exception.

Concerto DSCH (World Premiere): Music by Dmitri Shostakovich (Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op.102), Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Susan Walters, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Ashley Bouder, Benjamin Millepied, Joaquin De Luz, Gonzalo Garcia, Rebecca Krohn, Craig Hall, Rachel Rutherford, Amar Ramasar, Abi Stafford, Jonathan Stafford, Lauren King, Sean Suozzi, Ellen Ostrom, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Georgina Pazcoguin, Adam Hendrickson, Stephanie Zungre, and Antonio Carmena.

Concerto DSCH premiered two nights ago, and I found it to be the best conceived ballets of Ratmansky’s repertoire. Full disclosure, I love Shostakovich’s music, and it should be used more often in new ballets. The Second Piano Concerto is magnificent, and Susan Walters mastered her keyboard. The rapturous centerpiece of this new work is its slow “Andante” second movement (the other two are “Allegro”). Wendy Whelan and Benjamin Millepied are perfectly suited for this pas de deux, with Ms. Whelan moving her feet together, like fluttering wings. Ratmansky’s work also calls for defining elbows, circular leaps about each other, explosive ensemble jumps, and electrifying athleticism, all within the genre of ballet, never approaching overt modernism.

Joaquin De Luz and Gonzalo Garcia, the other two lead males, are virtuosic with vivacious leaps and astute timing. What I found most defining about this work was its spontaneity and element of change. The two “Allegro” movements allowed dancers, such as Ashley Bouder, in an opening role, to huddle or fall onto the stage, moments before tossing themselves about with abandon, but in swiftly synchronized togetherness, nothing disorganized, all designed for immediacy and aesthetic pleasure. The moods shift, as well, with romance, wit, surprise, and dare-devil dervish. Holly Hynes painted this ballet in shades of blue, gray, red, and orange. I look forward to seeing Concerto DSCH again next season.

Kudos to Fayçal Karoui for masterful conducting of three orchestral ballets. Kudos to City Ballet Orchestra.

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