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New York City Ballet

'Interplay,' 'Tarantella,' 'Chichester Psalms,' 'Eros Dreams,' 'I'm Old Fashioned'

by Kate Snedeker

June 2, 2004 -- New York State Theater, New York City

On Wednesday night, New York City Ballet's American Festival, part of the centennial salute to George Balanchine, continued with the world premieres of two ballets by Peter Martins, "Chichester Psalms" and "Eros Dreams." The program was rounded out by Balanchine's "Tarantella" and two very different ballets by Jerome Robbins, "Interplay" and "I'm Old Fashioned."

The high-spirited antics of Robbins' "Interplay" got the evening off to an energetic start. The cheery and trick-filled choreography allowed the four men to display their differing, but equally impressive talents. Adam Hendrickson combined control and explosive jumps and leaps in his solo, while Antonio Carmena showed off his impressive flexibility and elegantly stretched jumps. Bettering his performance from Sunday, Daniel Ulbricht pulled off four fully rotated double tours in a row, ending a low, but precise fifth position.

In the ByPlay pas de deux, Stephen Hanna and Carla Körbes tempered youth with a maturity obvious in the flawless partnering. Lindy Mandradjieff, Carrie Lee Riggins and Jennifer Tinsley completed the cast, and Maurice Kaplow conducted Martin Gould's score. The colorful, yet simple costumes were by Santo Loquasto and lighting by Ronald Bates.

Following "Interplay," Joaquin De Luz made his second appearance in Balanchine's "Tarantella," this time opposite Megan Fairchild. His debut in the role a few days earlier was marked by over-forceful dancing, but in this performance De Luz backed off just a bit and delivered a sensational performance. A short but long-limbed dancer, he is perfectly suited to this role with his crisp beats, explosive jumps and enthusiastic attack of the choreography. It was a sizzling performance, well-worthy of his swagger off the stage following his bounding circle of tour jetes. De Luz has established a pleasing partnership with Fairchild, and she seemed to feed off his energy, dancing with pertness and power. The music was by Louis Gottschalk, with Daniel Alfred Wachs conducting. Costumes were by Karinska.

The two new ballets by Peter Martins were a study in contrasts. Set to Leonard Bernstein's composition of the same name, "Chichester Psalms" involves the 64 singers of the Julliard Choral Union and 38 dancers, led by Carla Körbes and Amar Ramasar (replacing the originally listed Henry Seth). Both the singers and dancers are initially arrayed on semi-circular risers, with the dancers soon stepping down to dance in the ampitheater-like space created by the risers. Catherine Barinas' stark toga-like black and white costumes are appropriately biblical, the long skirted tunics in black for the men and white for the women.

Martins' choreography is focused on the patterns created by the large corps, deliberate and interweaving, with some intriguing partnering sequences for the male corps, where the men support each other in low twisting lifts. Körbes and Ramasar were dignified as the lead couple, who danced through and in the middle of the corps -- he the tall, elegant partner, and she the serene, almost angelic woman. The final tableau, with the corps in three lines of alternating black and white, two on the risers, hands interlinked is visually and choreographically stunning. With intriguing and beautifully sung music and fascinating use of color and corps patterns, this is a ballet deserving of multiple viewings. The enchanting young choral soloist was James Danner and Andrea Quinn conducted.

The second new piece, "Eros Piano," again named for the musical score, involves just three dancers, Alexandra Ansanelli, Ashley Laracey and Nikolaj Hübbe. The ballet has a very aquatic feel, with Holly Hynes' vivid blue-green unitards, John Adams' moody music and Martins' deliberate and sinuous choreography. Hübbe's man begins and ends the ballet alone, his dances with the two women seemingly a brief and exotic interlude. Martins' choreography is well suited to his dancers, allowing Ansanelli to show the full range of her talents, including dramatic extension and flexibility and adaptability to unusual partnering. Laracey was equally as enthralling, a long limbed and powerful dancer.

Though the dancing focuses on the women, it was wonderful to see Hübbe given the chance to shine. The choreography is perfectly suited to Hübbe, making use of his skills as a partner and moving solo dancer without pushing him beyond the limits of his no-longer-young body. He was electric in his solo, every step demonstrating his dramatic and athletic power, and his partnering flawless. Maurice Kaplow conducted, with Richard Moredock the solo pianist.

The evening concluded with a solid, if not totally inspiring performance of Robbins' "Old Fashioned." A tribute to the talents of Fred Astaire, the ballet is an elegant and heart-warming end to an evening of dance. Carla Körbes, Arch Higgins, Jenifer Ringer and Sebastien Marcovici were excellent in the leads, but it was Jared Angle, both alone and in his duet with Rachel Rutherford, who was the real highlight of the performance. Angle, who has spent much of the past several years out battling injury, seems to finally be back for the long run. His dancing was poignant and whimsical, emphasizing his elegant line and excellent partnering skills. One hopes that he will remain healthy and continue to expand his repertoire and develop his talents!

Edited by Lori Ibay

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