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New York City Center Presents "Balanchine: The City Center Years" with Guest Ballet Artists

- Onstage with the Dancers: Special Events

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Arlene Schuler, President & CEO
Stanford Makishi, VP, Programming

Balanchine: The City Center Years
(Production Web Page)

Press: Joe Guttridge, Director of Communications

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 4, 2018 Matinee

Read about George Balanchine Here.


The Joffrey Ballet: George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, Music by Hindemith, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Piano: Elaine Chelton, Performed by “Melancholic”: Yoshihasa Arai, “Sanguinic”: Christine Rocas and Dylan Gutierrez, “Phlegmatic”: Greig Matthews, “Choleric”: Victoria Jaiani.

Paris Opera Ballet: Divertissement Pas de Deux from George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Music by Mendelssohn, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Performed by Hugo Marchand and Sae-Eun Park.

The Mariinsky Ballet: George Balanchine’s Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Music by Tschaikovsky, Conductor: Clotilde Otranto, Performed by Viktoria Tereshkina and Kimin Kim.

American Ballet Theatre: George Balanchine’s Symphonie Concertante, Music by Mozart, Conductor: Ormsby Wilkins, Violin: Giora Schmidt, Viola: Shmuel Katz, Performed by Christine Shevchenko, Devon Teuscher and Thomas Forster.

In an ongoing historical celebration of the New York City Center’s 75th Anniversary, a series of programs have been produced, featuring the works of George Balanchine, who, with Lincoln Kirstein, founded New York City Ballet in 1948 in this very building. Balanchine based his Company at New York City Center for 15 years, and many of those early works have been mounted on the main stage this past week since October 31. I caught the final program on the final date. Four Balanchine ballets were presented today, with four guest companies, The Joffrey Ballet in The Four Temperaments, Paris Opera Ballet in the Divertissement Pas de Deux from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Mariinsky Ballet in Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, and American Ballet Theatre in Symphonie Concertante.

It was enthralling to see The Joffrey once again in its old home, after so many years, as it has been based in Chicago since 1995. American Ballet Theatre has also historically and periodically performed at New York City Center. Paris Opera Ballet and The Mariinsky are in town for this run, and all four companies were on today’s matinee stage. The New York City Ballet Orchestra, under the batons of two if its conductors, Andrews Sill (with solo pianist Elaine Chelton) and Clotilde Otranto, as well as Ballet Theatre’s Music Director, Ormsby Wilkins, provided live accompaniment throughout the program.

The Joffrey’s performance of a beloved early Balanchine work, The Four Temperaments, 1946, of Ballet Society’s (original company, later formed into New York City Ballet) debut. The commissioned 1940, Hindemith piano solos and accompaniment were masterfully performed by Ms. Chelton, as she expanded the intensity and dynamic of the intoxicating theme. The ballet has five sections, the “Theme” (danced by three couples from the Company), the “First Variation: Melancholic” (led by Yoshihisa Arai), the “Second Variation: Sanguinic” (led by Christine Rocas and Dylan Gutierrez), the “Third Variation: Phlegmatic” (led by Greig Matthews)”, and the “Fourth Variation: Choleric” (led by Victoria Jaiani).

Men carry the women off in scissor-legs motion, while staccato kicks and off-center balancing enunciate the choreography. Mr. Arai led the “Melancholic Variation” with inherent speed and exuberance. Ms. Rocas and Mr. Gutierrez led the “Sanguinic Variation” with focus and persuasion. My two favorite variations were the third and fourth, with Mr. Matthews leading in “Phlegmatic”, with persona and confidence. Ms. Jaiani led the final “Choleric Variation” with poise, attitude and energy.

The uncluttered black-white leotards and a grey-blue backdrop keep the focus on the choreography. Off-balance partnering, powerful entrances, and Balanchine’s masterful dance structures, so refined, so timeless, all combine for animated ballet extraordinaire.

Paris Opera Ballet’s Divertissement Pas de Deux, unusual to see out of the context of the full-length Balanchine masterpiece, was absorbing to experience, with the lush Mendelssohn score. Sae-Eun Park and Hugo Marchand were elegant in the high-styled lifts, precise footwork en air, and supremely classical design. This balletic piece is used as the regal wedding entertainment for Titania and Oberon’s forestial nuptials at the end of Midsummer, and it was perfectly suited for this very regal duo from Paris.

The Mariinsky duo, Viktoria Tereshkina and Kimin Kim (who, like Ms. Jaiani, of the Joffrey, has been frequently and favorably reviewed on these pages), danced the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. Tchaikovsky originally composed this particular pas de deux as extra music for Swan Lake, Act III, but Petipa had not used it in his choreography. Balanchine in later years found the music and received permission to use the score for his own ballet. Mr. Kim, in true fashion, rose to the athletic challenge inherent in the design for the male partner, with leaps, dashes, spins, and lifts. Ms. Tereshkina, with Russian flair, was right at home in the spotlight.

Ballet Theatre’s Symphonie Concertante, set to Mozart's "Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major for Violin and Viola", danced with Theoni Aldredge's ravishing costumes, featured Christine Shevchenko, Devon Teuscher, and Thomas Forster, who was busy as the sole male dancer to 24 females. Mr. Forster led the dancers under his arms in classical fashion and leaped about with elegant elevation and buoyant charm.

Of the two female leads, Ms. Shevchenko was radiant, while Ms. Teuscher was reserved, two personalities, and two stringed instrumental leads as well, one violin and one viola. This is a thought-provoking rather than emotionally riveting ballet, so very Balanchine, so structured, symmetrical, and scintillating. Ms. Shevchenko looked down, head turning back and forth, in Balanchine style, and the effect was fresh and lovely. Ms. Teuscher did the same, with control and seriousness in demeanor. Their footwork was quick and well-timed.

Of the six soloist and corps leads, Catherine Hurlin and Luciana Paris internalized the classicism and lyricism of Balanchine's intentions. Giora Schmidt and Shmuel Katz were off-stage stars on solo violin and solo viola. Their reading of the Mozart added zest and vivacity to a very vibrant score. The Orchestra made the Mozart, alone, an enjoyable musical experience.

Kudos to New York City Ballet Orchestra and today’s conductors and solo musicians, kudos to all guest dancers, kudos to George Balanchine, and kudos to New York City Center in its 75th Anniversary Season.

The Joffrey Ballet in
George Balanchine's "The Four Temperaments"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

The Joffrey Ballet in
George Balanchine's "The Four Temperaments"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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