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New York City Ballet
Then and There
(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 13, 2008

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).
Guest Conductor: Paul Mann

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 Julius Lumsden, Costumes Supervised by Julie Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Singers, Betsy Wolfe and Mike McGowan, Guest Trio, Alan Moverman on Piano, Ron Wasserman on Bass, James Saporito on Drums, Performed by Faye Arthurs, Charles Askegard, Yvonne Borree, Nilas Martins, Sara Mearns, Jared Angle, Rebecca Krohn, Tyler Angle, and the Company.

Peter Martins’ Thou Swell remains one of my favorites in the City Ballet repertoire. Mr. Martins transports his audience into the time and milieu of 1930’s nightclubs, oh, so romantic, so genteel, so swell. With a mirrored backdrop, long gowns, a staircase to champagne and lovers, and those gestures of class and refinement, four couples glance, meet, dance, stroll back, and hold hands, not to mention the rapturous lifts, the backward bends, and the visible chemistry that adds drama and edge. A three piece band, of piano, bass, and drums, is onstage, in addition to the Orchestra, that swings forth with Rodgers and Hart standards, like “This Can’t Be Love”, “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World”, “Isn’t It Romantic”, and “Thou Swell”.

Betsy Wolfe and Mike McGowan provided vocals, each at one side of the stage, alternating and occasionally merging in this tuneful production. Of the four couples, Nilas Martins and Yvonne Borree seemed most abandoned and comfortable in the tosses, spins, and embraces. Sara Mearns and Jared Angle were lusciously impassioned, but more self-possessed, and Rebecca Krohn and Tyler Angle kept it classy and entertaining. Faye Arthurs and Charles Askegard exuded a more classical style, but always in the mood. Four more couples from the Corps added pizzazz. Kudos to Peter Martins.

Prodigal Son (1950) Ballet in Three Scenes: Libretto by Boris Kochno, Music by Sergei Prokofiev, Choreography be George Balanchine, Décor by Georges Rouault, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Damian Woetzel as The Prodigal Son, Maria Kowroski as The Siren, Ask la Cour as Father, Adam Hendrickson and Sean Suozzi as Servants to The Prodigal Son, Dena Abergel and Pauline Golbin as The Sisters, and the Company as Drinking Companions. Balanchine, then 24 years old and Diaghilev's last Ballet Master, choreographed this work three months prior to Diaghilev's death in 1929. Rouault created the décor, and this ballet was premiered in 1950 for NYC Ballet. (NYCB Notes).

What another treat, to see Damian Woetzel in Prodigal Son the first of two performances this week, as he retires in two days with this work on the Farewell Program. Mr. Woetzel has never danced better, with more elevation, more characterization, more nuanced gesture, or more surprises. One surprise tonight was the mutually erotic intensity of his dance with Maria Kowroski, a Siren extraordinaire, who intertwines her long limbs about Mr. Woetzel and cradles him in her lap. He has left home, in a burst of kicking fury, and he meets The Siren and her Drinking Companions, who use him and abandon him, taking his clothes, shoes, and almost his life. Prodigal Son has some of the stomping pulse of Les Noces, a work of Nijinska and also of Robbins; Prokofiev evoking Stravinsky.

Ask la Cour is a severe, tall, and mesmerizing Father, who sees his son leave and return in contrasting emotions. Adam Hendrickson and Sean Suozzi are theatrical Servants, gathering jugs and rushing about Mr. Woetzel as needed. Dena Abergel and Pauline Golbin have internalized these roles well. Georges Rouault designed the darkly outlined backdrops, the fence that’s also a table, wall, and surreal sailboat, and the doors that open for the very tall Father. Ronald Bates and then Mark Stanley provided the shifts in light that were so requisite to Balanchine’s masterpiece. Kudos to George Balanchine.

Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (1966): Music by Johannes Brahms (First Piano Quartet in G minor, Op.25), Orchestrated by Arnold Schoenberg, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Abi Stafford, Philip Neal, Savannah Lowery, Janie Taylor, Jared Angle, Megan Fairchild, Andrew Veyette, Wendy Whelan, Charles Askegard, and the Company.

From strapless gowns to Hungarian hats, from a mauve chateau backdrop to interior curtains, this textured and detailed ballet for the four movements of a Brahms Piano Quartet (orchestrated by Schoenberg) brings out four Principal couples, a Soloist, and what seems to be the entire Corps. Of those four movements, my favorite was the “Intermezzo”, for Janie Taylor and Jared Angle. They were accompanied only by three female Corps dancers, and Ms. Taylor and Mr. Angle kept the audience rapt, in this dimly lit, Viennese-styled classical confection. The “Allegro” first movement brought out Abi Stafford and Philip Neal, with Savannah Lowery joining the lead, accompanied by a well-lit, Corps ensemble in pink. Ms. Stafford was buoyant and attentively partnered by Mr. Neal.

The “Andante” third movement featured Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette, in a last minute cast change, which was unfortunate, as Ms. Fairchild looked even smaller and more sprightly, partnered by the tall, long-limbed Andrew Veyette. However, in the flowery lifts and swirling choreography, they came together nicely. Ms. Fairchild still needs to make eye contact with her partners, as she remains too internalized. The “Rondo alla Zingarese” fourth movement was led by Wendy Whelan and Charles Askegard, joined by a large Corps ensemble, and Ms. Whelan captivated the audience with a Hungarian stylized performance. The costumes were festive and folkloric, and kudos to Balanchine and Brahms.

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