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New York City Ballet: All Robbins
(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
Honorary Chairmen: Julia and David Koch
Managing Director, Communications, Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Joe Guttridge
Assoc., Communications and Special Projects, Caitlin Gillette
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 15, 2009

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Fayçal Karoui

Interplay (1952): Music by Morton Gould, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Piano Solo: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Sean Suozzi, Daniel Ulbricht, Sterling Hyltin, and Robert Fairchild. The original title for this music was “American Concertette” (1945). Gould's Ballet works generally drew on American subject matter. Gould received a Grammy in 1965 for his recording of music by Charles Ives. Gould was a composer, arranger, and conductor and wrote in many genres. He conducted for New York City Ballet at the 1988 American Music Festival. He orchestrated “Fall River Legend” (Choreographed by the great Agnes de Mille) and “Interplay”. He also composed for Broadway, television and film. (NYCB Notes).

The City Ballet audience reacted with ebullience to this opening jazzy work. Robbins divided the piece into four segments; Sean Suozzi led Free Play, with the entire ensemble dressed in colorful and black leotards. Morton Gould’s upbeat buoyancy was especially helpful in the second segment, Horseplay, with none other than Daniel Ulbricht spinning and jumping en air like a bronco on hormones. In the next segment, Byplay, Sterling Hyltin and Robert Fairchild created a comical, yet persuasive pas de deux, with slinky, lyrical frolicking. The final Team Play segment used shadows and other stunning lighting effects to rivet the eye. Rapid spins, pirouettes, splits, cartwheels, sliding, and campy athletics are the hallmarks of Robbins’ invention. This is a work that’s worth repeating, as it’s so energetic and captivating.

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, Rebecca Krohn 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).

In contrast to the showy playfulness of Interplay, Robbins’ The Cage has female spiders devouring their prey, after raping, attacking, and suffocating them with twisted ropes. Wendy Whelan, as The Novice, is always stark and striking in her angular, driven dance. This work is dark and eerie, and the image of Ms. Whelan being lifted and carried to begin her fierce sorcery is iconic and icy. Sébastien Marcovici and Adam Hendrickson, as The Intruders, were frozen among the dozen frightening Group (of female spiders) who assisted The Queen (Rebecca Krohn) and Ms. Whelan in their devilish deeds. Stravinsky’s score projects dark doom, and Ruth Sobotka’s tall teased wigs (a short black wig for Ms. Whelan) and web-like netted costumes are cleverly conceived against Jean Rosenthal’s noir set. Mr. Marcovici, it should be mentioned, is always powerfully theatrical in this role.

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 Tiler Peck and Gonzalo Garcia. The pas de deux in Four Bagatelles unfold in scintillating fashion, all performed to Beethoven’s short piano works. Nancy McDill kept the momentum bouncy and jewel-like, with Tiler Peck and Gonzalo Garcia dancing solos in echoing, repetitious manner. Robbins originally designed this choreography for Violette Verdy and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux. Ms. Peck had to meet the challenge of dancing in the image of such incomparable shoes, and her aerobic athleticism worked superbly in this genre. Mr. Garcia, as well, had large metaphorical slippers to fill, and his lightness of foot has grown this season, as well as his balance and confidence in jumps and spins. Mr. Garcia has an abundance of enthusiasm and presence, but he can be occasionally heavy of foot. Yet, tonight, the stage was filled with pure dance pleasure, and Beethoven’s inventions were realized with verve and vivacity.

I'm Old Fashioned (1983): Music by Morton Gould (based on music by Jerome Kern), Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Florence Klotz, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Jenifer Ringer, Tyler Angle, Maria Kowroski, Philip Neal, and the Company. Film sequence from You Were Never Lovelier, starring Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth.

This is one of my favorite City Ballet works, so effusively elegant. The opening Astaire-Hayworth film sequence, black and white, retro romance, always clutches the imagination, and when ballroom merges to Latin, with the addition of clavé, Astaire and Hayworth rhumba with chemistry. The Robbins version does not match the film’s exact choreography, but brings the dancers in touch with the mood and moment of the film, and, at the finale, the dancers wave goodbye to the film’s stars.

During the ballet, the couple that caught my eye was that of Adrian Danchig-Waring and Rebecca Krohn. They seemed the most connected spiritually and melodically. The Ringer-Angle couple seemed mismatched, and the Kowroski-Neal couple had Mr. Neal bursting to dance his solo, which he did with his usual campiness. Ms. Kowroski, as always, was elegant and captivating and deserved a more charismatic partner. I kept thinking about re-designing this ballet for just one couple, a couple with outsized chemistry, dressed in black and white to match the film and creating a kind of shadow dance. Perhaps that’s an idea for a new choreographer with two new stars of another retro-romantic film.

Kudos to Jerome Robbins, and kudos to Fayçal Karoui for keeping the Orchestra so infused with energy and musicality.

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