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New York City Ballet

‘Concerto Barocco,’ ‘Hallelujah Junction,’ ‘Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux,’ ‘I’m Old Fashioned’

Dancing more with less

by Art Priromprintr

October 7, 2004 -- Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles

Los Angeles’ Program B showed off some of the best overall dancing in the run, even if the program seemed to head downhill in interest as the evening progressed.

“Concerto Barocco,” Thursday’s program opener, is a very satisfying piece choreographically, with the way it sits so perfectly on Bach’s Double Violin Concerto. There’s a swingy undertone to the concerto that Balanchine captures perfectly while at the same time mirroring the lyricism on the surface of the score. The performance took a bit of time to warm up on Thursday, but it was nonetheless quite satisfying to watch. Yvonne Borree in the principal role was a bit mechanical and cold, but serviceable. Rachel Rutherford was much more alive and was more interesting to watch, especially in the first movement, and James Fayette partnered Borree assuredly. The corps was great in the final movement: there is some great imagery here, including unison hops on point, and traveling patterns, and when done correctly it is wonderful – which it was Thursday. The momentum built to a great conclusion, and again, quite satisfying if not the best performance of the piece.

Peter Martins’ “Hallelujah Junction,” seen after the intermission, is very fast and features many opportunites for great dancing. The choreography had intricately patterned work but was nearly forgettable as it flew by and built to nothing at its conclusion. The dancers in this piece – Janie Taylor, Sebastien Marcovici, and Benjamin Millepied in the leads, with Ashley Bouder and Megan Fairchild among the ensemble standouts – dance it far more energetically and interestingly than they have danced any other piece through this entire run. It’s interesting that the best dancing comes out of this Martins piece instead of the more revered Balanchine; perhaps the dancers enjoy having the new work to dance.

Alexandra Ansanelli and Stephen Hanna danced “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux” following a brief pause. Ansanelli was wonderful – great snaps in arabesque to key points in the music, an easy ability to do pirouettes and look like a serenely spinning top, and a relaxed but assured stage presence. Stephen Hanna partnered very well in the adagio, then showed off some great tricks of his own in the variation & coda. The audience ate up this display of virtuosity from both of them.

As the program closer, “I’m Old Fashioned” started off well, with a cinematic homage to Fred Astaire seen in an old fashioned movie, but the ballet itself began to bore later on. Some quaint humor here and there, but the dancing all moves rather slowly, especially in comparison to the three other pieces on tonight’s program. Serviceable dancing all around, though nothing too spectacular to mention: Maria Kowroski, Rachel Rutherford, Jenifer Ringer, Jared Angle, Arch Higgins, and Nikolaj Hubbe were the principals. I can’t help but think this is not one of Robbins’ most interesting pieces. Others do similar things in similar formats, but in a far more interesting fashion. It may have been more interesting to see one of Robbins’ more masterful pieces; there were some spectacular performances of “Dances at a Gathering” in the spring this year. Thus, it was disappointing that this was Robbins’ only representation in the company’s two-week visit.

Edited by Jeff.

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