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New York City Ballet
Generation Next
(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
June 10, 2008

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).
Guest Conductor: Clotilde Otranto

Circus Polka (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Ring Master: Robert La Fosse, Performed by Students of School of American Ballet. "Circus Polka" was originally choreographed by Balanchine for elephants in Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus, and Stravinsky wrote the music to be danced by young elephants. In 1972, Jerome Robbins created a contrasting ballet for young students and a Ringmaster to Stravinsky's same score. The children usually spell I. S. at the end, Stravinsky's initials, but tonight will spell J. R.. (NYCB Notes).

It’s always delightful to see 48 young girls from School of American Ballet, delineated by the color of the bouffant tutus, scampering about to the crack of the Ringmaster’s whip, and forming patterns of imagery that finalize in the initials of Stravinsky, today Robbins. I wonder if there’s a film clip of the original 1942 Polka for elephants in the circus that Balanchine and Stravinsky collaborated on. Thirty years later, Robbins used the score for Circus Polka. Robert La Fosse, Ringmaster, always glows in this work, with stage presence and obvious pride in the beginner ballerinas.

Moves: A Ballet in Silence (1984): Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Jared Angle and Kaitlyn Gilliland, Savannah Lowery, Georgina Pazcoguin, Rachel Rutherford, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Adam Hendrickson, Amar Ramasar, and Sean Suozzi.

Structured into “Entrances: Pas de Deux”, “Dance for Men”, “Dance for Women”, and “Pas de Deux”, this work, danced to total silence, was much more interesting on this second viewing. Jared Angle, the only Principal dancer tonight, partnered Kaitlyn Gilliland, joining an ensemble of eight soloists and corps. As this program was billed “Generation Next”, a youthful cast moved through the various unrecognizable cues to progress from moment to moment. Usually, the rhythms and bars of the score offer such choreographic cues, but here the cues must have been led through memory of sequential steps and gesture. At times the dancers looked up or forward, and, at other times, they faced each other. There was humor, in this dialogue of body language, and the Angle-Gilliland pas de deux was entrancing, as Mr. Angle and Ms. Gilliland captivate the eye.

The Cage (1951): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Ruth Sobotka, Décor by Jean Rosenthal, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Wendy Whelan as The Novice, Teresa Reichlen as The Queen, Sébastien Marcovici and Adam Hendrickson as The Intruders, and the Company as The Group. A ballet about the female species as predators and the male species as prey. Score is "Concerto in D for String Orchestra, "Basler" (1946). (NYCB Notes).

Tonight’s five-piece, all Robbins program proceeded with The Cage, the 1974 work about female predators, as they use and attack two “Intruders”, Sébastien Marcovici and Adam Hendrickson. It was wonderful to see Mr. Marcovici onstage once again, after an injury leave, and hopefully we will see him often. Wendy Whelan is “The Novice”, with Teresa Reichlen as “The Queen”, and twelve corps females make up “The Group”. Ruth Sobotka’s costumes have spider-web designs, and the wigs are puffy and surreal. There is an all-consuming quality to the mouths agape and legs in squatting position. Mr. Marcovici seems to have his neck caught in a length of rope that’s twisted and pulled by Ms. Whelan, as she also suffocates him with her legs. He is rolled about like a sack, while Ms. Reichlen appears in searing, stark, percussive motion, while Jennifer Tipton’s lighting adds a dim background to the spot-lighted action. Jean Rosenthal’s décor enhances this dramatic scene.

Four Bagatelles (1974): Music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Florence Klotz, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Pianist: Nancy McDill, Performed by Ashley Bouder and Gonzalo Garcia. I had not seen this work before, and, in its simplicity, it was impressive and engaging. Set to four of Beethoven’s piano “Bagatelles”, Ashley Bouder and her buoyant partner, Gonzalo Garcia, in green-white peasant-styled costumes, interacted with Nancy McDill’s piano, which really should have been onstage. Ms. Bouder, as always, was confident, charged, charming, and very attached rhythmically to her partner. She and Mr. Garcia are well suited physically and emotionally, with Mr. Garcia more spontaneous and differentiated in his gestures and mood. Ms. Bouder can be seen as one-dimensional at times, but Mr. Garcia adds contrasts to her affect.

Fanfare (1953): Music by Benjamin Britten (The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34), Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Scenery and Costumes by Irene Sharaff, Text by Eric Crozier, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Major Domo: David Lowenstein, Performed by Students from School of American Ballet as Woodwinds, Strings, Brass, and Percussion. The original cast of this unique work included Jacques D'Amboise. The score was composed by Britten to honor the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and premiered on Coronation Night. It also celebrates the various instruments and families of instruments in the modern orchestra. (NYCB Notes).

Tonight, students from School of American Ballet performed this beguiling work, hosted and narrated by David Lowenstein, whose strong stage presence and slight lisp are equally beguiling. Students wore colorful, cartoonish costumes of woodwind, brass, string, and percussion, the sections of the orchestra. They perform in ensemble, solo (e.g., harp, double bass, tuba), and then as an orchestra for the Fugue. This performance was effervescent, as it always is, but even more so with the youthful ardor and athleticism of these young dancers. The percussion males lift each other and jump and dance in iconic comedy. The harp is lovely and feminine, as are the violins, and the double bass is tall and masculine. The oboe is, in contrast, ethereal and feminine, and the four horns, two trumpets, tuba and trombones are all male instruments, although the costumes are frivolous. Fanfare is a delightful Robbins ballet.

Kudos to Jerome Robbins.

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