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New York City Ballet

Symphonic Balanchine: 'Western Symphony', 'Symphony in Three Movements', 'Symphony in C'

by Colleen Boresta

February 10 (m), 2013 -- Koch Theatre, Lincoln Center, New York, NY

At the February 10th matinee the New York City Ballet audience was treated to three of George Balanchine’s best works. The afternoon begins with ‘Western Symphony’ – Balanchine’s salute to the American West. The score was orchestrated by Hershy Kay, using such folk classics as “Red River Valley”, “Good Night Ladies” and “Oh Dem Golden Slippers”. Balanchine and Kay have created a world full of cowboys and gorgeous dancehall girls.

When the ballet first premiered in the l950s, there were four sections. Over the years (definitely before I first discovered NYCB in 1980) the third section has been lost (at NYCB anyway). ‘Western Symphony’ begins with the Allegro movement. In this part, corps member Taylor Stanley proves that he is a dancer with real promise and a very engaging personality. As his partner, however, Rebecca Krohn is totally lackluster.

Jared Angle shines in Adagio as a laid-back cowboy with a sly sense of humor. Megan Fairchild is delightful as the object of his affection (for a brief period of time).

The highlight of the ballet is Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette in the Rondo segment. Usually, in this last section, a tall ballerina is paired with a considerably shorter partner. Bouder is on the tiny side, but she and Veyette share such a sense of playfulness, as well as comic timing and bravura dancing, that the height joke is not needed.

Andrew Veyette gets better every time I see him perform. I really think he is the perfect heir to the Damian Woetzel roles at NYCB. I was such a fan of Woetzel that for me this is saying quite a lot. Bouder is Veyette’s ideal partner – more so than Megan Fairchild who often dances with Veyette (and in real life is married to him).

It is so much fun seeing Bouder and Veyette try to best each other. Bouder’s kicks to the back of her head, as well as the kicks when she almost hits Veyette in the head, are outstanding. Veyette’s double air turns are tossed off at the speed of sound. And the finale – with the entire cast spinning like cyclones – I’m still on a high just thinking about it.

The next piece on the program is ‘Symphony in Three Movements’. It was choreographed by Balanchine for the 1972 Stravinsky Festival. It is a ballet I get more out of every time I see it. The first and third sections are bursting with propulsive power. Tiler Peck is all high voltage energy and grace. Daniel Ulbricht is even more high-flying than usual. He absolutely soars across the stage at the David Koch Theatre. The second part of ‘Symphony in Three Movements” is the pas de deux. As danced by Sterling Hyltin and Amar Ramasar it is slinky and captivating with strange Hindu-like hand movements.

The afternoon ends with ‘Symphony in C’ which was created by Balanchine for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1947. It is set to music by Georges Bizet and is divided into four sections, based on the Bizet music. Each movement is led by a ballerina, a premier danseur and the corps de ballet.

In the first segment, Allegro Vivo, Ana Sophia Scheller stands out for her clear and precise footwork. Soloist Chase Finlay is a very good partner who dances his solos splendidly. I hope that Finlay will soon be promoted to principal dancer at NYCB.

Teresa Reichlen is breathtaking in the Adagio section. I think she may even be better than Maria Kowroski in the role. The melting liquidity of her line and her long lyrical extensions are hauntingly beautiful. Ask la Cour impresses with his secure partnering of Reichlen.

In the third movement, Allegro Vivace, Antonio Carmena thrills the audience with his speed and elevation. His partner, soloist Erica Pereira, has obviously been practicing her jumping because she is much better in this role than when I saw her dance it last October. She’s not yet up to the level of Ashley Bouder, but then who is?

In the last movement Lauren King is as disappointing as she was last fall. Her turns lack sharpness and precision. Surely there must be a female dancer at NYCB besides Tiler Peck who can dance this part. King is outclassed by her partner Taylor Stanley. I am very impressed by Stanley at the February 10th matinee. Hopefully he will be promoted to soloist at NYCB soon.

It was another great afternoon at the ballet. I am look forward to seeing New York City Ballet dance George Balanchine’s ballets for many years to come.

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