New York City Ballet - American Festival Mixed Repertory
'Interplay,' 'Ivesiana,' 'Tarantella,' 'Stars and Stripes'
by Kate Snedeker
May 30, 2004 -- New York State Theater, New York City
Part of the fortnight-long American Festival, the New York City Ballet's Sunday matinee performance embraced the theme by including ballets that represented homegrown choreographers and composers. The afternoon also included performances by guest dancers from two other American ballet companies.
The matinee opened with "Interplay," a lighthearted ballet by Jerome Robbins, one of the pre-eminent American choreographers of the 20th century. The deceptively simple-seeming choreography is packed with tricky technical feats, and the energetic cast was well up to the challenge. Carla Körbes and the recently promoted Stephen Hanna stood out in the "ByPlay" pas de deux. The maturity embodied in the flow and depth of their performance was a pleasant contrast to the more youthful feel of the other sections.
Equally as exciting was "HorsePlay,"
where Körbes, Carrie Lee Riggins, Jennifer Tinsley and Lindy Mandradjieff
spun like tops, and Hanna, Adam Hendrickson, Jonathan Stafford and Daniel
Ulbricht were impressive in the double tour "competition," with
Ulbricht nearly completing four double tours in a row. Richard Moredock
conducted the Morton Gould score, with Elaine Chelton on the piano.
Taylor enters standing on the shoulders of four men, lit from the waist up, giving her an unearthly appearance. Manipulated by her bearers, she goes through a series of splits and backbends, nearly touching the hand of her pursuer, danced by Tom Gold. For a brief second they touch, but then she is pulled back up, and leaves just as she arrived. In a way, Taylor's being is a modern sylph, a creature who captivates a man, but is not of his world and thus unattainable. And the man is left ruined, in this case, shuddering on the bare stage floor. Both Gold and Taylor were superb in the eerily dramatic choreography.
The ballet continues with an upbeat
pas de deux, danced with just the right quirkiness by Sofiane Sylve and
Albert Evans. With Sylve in a short pink dress and Evans in black pants
and white shirt, the piece almost seems like a twisted version of a dance
from "Who Cares." The ballet concludes with a return to the
forest creatures of the first act. This time they "walk" across
the stage on their knees, lit from mid thigh up, which gives the appearance
of creatures walking on a stage below the stage -- an unusual ending for
an unusual ballet.
De Luz's footwork was delightfully
quick and precise and his bravura dancing outstanding, especially the
pirouettes. However, the overall quality of his performance was marred
by excessive forcefulness and a very rushed feeling, which resulted in
De Luz's dancing often having an oddly frenetic look. "Tarantella"
is inspired in part by the choreography of August Bournonville -- a style
where the steps should look effortless, and De Luz needs to let the natural
buoyancy of the music and choreography dictate the pace of his dancing,
not the preparation for the next trick. Daniel Alfred Wachs conducted,
with Nancy McDill on the piano.
All lighting was by Mark Stanley, with costumes in the first ballet by Santo Loquasto, and for the final two ballets by Karinska. Carolyn Kuan conducted "Ivesiana," and David Hays was the set designer for "Stars and Stripes."
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