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New York City Ballet

'Glass Pieces', 'The Year of the Rabbit', 'Vienna Waltzes'

by Colleen Boresta

February 3 (m), 2013 -- Koch Theatre, Lincoln Center, New York, NY

Sunday afternoon New York City Ballet performed two classic works – Jerome Robbins’ ‘Glass Pieces’ and George Balanchine’s ‘Vienna Waltzes’. In between these two ballets was a work by corps member and novice choreographer, Justin Peck. This piece is named ‘Year of the Rabbit’.

The afternoon begins with ‘Glass Pieces’. Almost 40 years after ‘Fancy Free’, Jerome Robbins choreographed a ballet that perfectly fits Philip Glass’ modern score. No matter how many times I see ‘Glass Pieces’ I still find some step or the twist of a hand or the turn of a head to wonder at. The ballet is divided into three sections. In the first section, “Rubric”, Robbins’ choreography strongly depicts the hurried flow of urban life.

In “Facades”, Rebecca Krohn and Adrian Danchig-Waring dance a pas de deux full of tender loneliness while shadowy figures sway in the background. In this riveting duet, Krohn’s and Danchig-Waring’s hand movements are reminiscent of those found in George Balanchine’s ‘The Four Temperaments.’ My favorite part of ‘Glass Pieces’ is the third section, “Akhnaten” (excerpt). Some of the movements of the men’s section remind me of Robbins’ Prologue from ‘West Side Story’. Well, if Robbins wanted to copy from himself, he was certainly entitled to. Then the women appear and the music and choreography build up to a brilliant climax. I hope NYCB continues to dance this Glass/Robbins masterpiece for many years to come.

The second ballet of the afternoon is Justin Peck’s ‘Year of the Rabbit’. It is Peck’s second work for his home company. ‘Rabbit’ premiered last October to generally positive reviews. It is set to the music of American singer-songwriter, Sufjan Stevens, and is based on selections from the Chinese zodiac.

Peck has chosen some of NYCB’s best dancers for ‘Rabbit’ – Ashley Bouder, Joaquin De Luz, Teresa Reichlen, Robert Fairchild, Janie Taylor and Tyler Angle. All perform marvelously. I find the individual sections of ‘Rabbit’ interesting, but they seem a bit disjointed. The parts don’t add up to a complete ballet. ‘Year of the Rabbit’ held my attention while I was watching it, but after it was over none of it stuck with me. Maybe I see to see ‘Rabbit’ again to see what I can get out of it.

The afternoon ends with George Balanchine’s ‘Vienna Waltzes’. This ballet is a series of four waltzes and a polka, with music by Johann Strauss II, Franz Lehar and Richard Strauss. The scenery by Rouben
Ter-Artunian is splendid – from the forests of the Vienna Woods to the haunted ballroom of “Der
Rosenkavalier”. Karinska’s period costumes are magnificent.

‘Vienna Waltzes’ begins with “Tales from the Vienna Woods’. Savannah Lowery is charming as a young debutante, with Jared Angle as her ardently gallant cavalier. Next is “Voices of Spring”. In this section,
Ashley Bouder dances with gossamer lightness. Her speed, precision and musicality make Bouder an especially enchanting sprite. As her partner Antonio Carmena stands out for his joyous dancing rich with exciting leaps and turns. I really think Carmena should be promoted to principal dancer. Georgina
Pazcoguin and Troy Schumacher are quite amusing as they dance “The Explosions Polka”.

Since I saw her last year, Teresa Reichlen has really grown into the role of the merry widow. She is both seductive and sophisticated dancing to Franz Lehar’s “Silver and Gold Waltz”. As her escort Ask la Cour is not yet up to the standard Peter Martins set in this part. La Cour is, however, sufficiently dashing and he partners Reichlen very well.

I usually love Maria Kowroski in whatever ballet she’s dancing, but in “Der Rosenkavalier” Kowroski does not live up to my memories of Kyra Nicholas and Sara Mearns in the role. Her backbends are not nearly as deep as they need to be, which is strange because I have long admired Kowroski’s supple upper body. As well, I am not as moved as I want to be by her portrayal of the girl dancing alone with her phantom lover. I am sure, though, that Kowroski will grow into the role.

Fortunately the finale, with chandeliers glowing and white gowns swirling, is as intoxicating as ever. It was another wonderful afternoon at the ballet.

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