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 Post subject: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 2:34 am 
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New York City Ballet Announces 2012-2013 season

New York City Ballet has announced full details of its 2012-2013 season, which includes festivals of ballet to music by Stravinsky, Tschaikovsky and American composers; and world premieres by Peter Martins, Justin Peck and Christopher Wheeldon.

The numbers are impressive. In all there will be more than 150 performances over 21 weeks. 65 ballets will be danced to scores by 44 composers, including 39 works by Balanchine and 13 by Robbins.

The Fall season runs Tuesday, September 18 to Sunday, October 14, opening with a two-week celebration of the partnership between Stravinsky and Balanchine, and consisting of performances of 12 different ballets that Balanchine created to Stravinsky’s music over a period of more than 40 years.

The Stravinsky/Balanchine performances will begin on September 18 with the “Greek Trilogy,” consisting of “Apollo”, “Orpheus”, and “Agon”. The second Stravinsky/Balanchine program will consist of “Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fée,” “Danses Concertantes”, and “Firebird”. The program will also include “Scherzo à la Russe”, which will be performed by students from the School of American Ballet. This program will debut on September 22. The final Stravinsky/Balanchine program consists of five signature black and white ballets: “Monumentum pro Gesualdo”, “Movements for Piano and Orchestra”, “Duo Concertant”, “Stravinsky Violin Concerto” and “Symphony in Three Movements”.

The season then continues through October 14 and will include works by Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, Benjamin Millepied and Christopher Wheeldon, and a new work by NYCB corps de ballet dancer and choreographer Justin Peck on October 5. Peck’s ballet is set to a new orchestration of American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens’ “Enjoy Your Rabbit”, an electronica album and song cycle based on the Chinese zodiac.
The Fall gala is on Thursday, September 20, the program to be announced nearer the date.

The year will continue with the annual season of Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker”, with performances from November 23 through December 30.

The six week Winter season follows almost immediately, running January 15 through February 24, 2013. This opens with a two-week Tchaikovsky Celebration, featuring performances of nine works by Balanchine and a new ballet by Peter Martins to selections from “Eugene Onegin”. The season will be the first time ever that NYCB has presented all of the ballets currently in the Company’s active repertory that were created by Balanchine to Tschaikovsky’s music (the 1981 Tchaikovsky Festival also featured new works by Balanchine, Robbins, Martins and others, as well as existing repertory).

The opening program of the season will include “Serenade”, “Mozartiana”, and “Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2”. The second all Tschaikovsky/Balanchine program will consist of “Swan Lake”, “Allegro Brillante”, and “Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3”, and will debut on January 17. Program three will feature “Diamonds”, “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux”, and “Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fée”, alongside a new ballet by Peter Martins set to selections from Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”. This program opens on January 24.

The middle two weeks of the Winter season, January 29 to February 10, will feature 13 additional works by Balanchine, Robbins, Martins, Peck, William Forsythe, and Alexei Ratmansky, including a special “Symphonic Balanchine” program featuring “Western Symphony”, “Symphony in Three Movements”, and “Symphony in C”. A second new Martins work will premiere on Thursday, January 31, this time to a commissioned score by the French composer Marc-André Dalbavie. The Winter season will close with two weeks of performances of Martins’ full-length production of “The Sleeping Beauty”, from February 13 through 24.

The 2013 Spring Season will open with a three-week American Music Festival featuring 24 ballets and music by 16 American composers. This festival will also mark the 25th anniversary of the 1998 American Music Festival, during which NYCB presented more than 20 new works to the music of American composers.

The season will open on Tuesday, April 30 with an All Balanchine program of “Who Cares?” (Gershwin), “Ivesiana” (Ives), “Tarantella” (Gottschalk/Kay) and “Stars and Stripes” (Sousa). Other programs making up the American Music Festival include an all Richard Rodgers program consisting of Martins’ “Thou Swell”, Wheeldon’s “Carousel (A Dance)”, and Balanchine’s “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue”, which will open on May 2. An all Robbins program consisting of “Interplay” (Gould), “Fancy Free” (Bernstein”), and “I’m Old Fashioned” (Gould) opens May 3. A “Founding Choreographers” program featuring Balanchine’s “Western Symphony” (traditional/Kay), Robbins’ “N. Y. Export: Opus Jazz” (Prince) and Glass Pieces (Glass) will open on May 10.

The final week of the American Music Festival will feature an all Martins program to include “Calcium Light Night” (Ives), “River of Light” (Wuorinen), “Barber Violin Concerto” (Barber), and “Fearful Symmetries” (Adams). The American Music Festival will conclude with two additional programs featuring ballets by Robbins, Martins, Benjamin Millepied, and Christopher Wheeldon.

The American Music Festival will also feature a special Spring Gala performance on Thursday, May 9 featuring a world premiere by Christopher Wheeldon, music to be announced, and Jerome Robbins’ “Glass Pieces”.

On Wednesday, May 29, NYCB will also present the New York City premiere of a new ballet by Justin Peck that will have its world premiere on Saturday, July 14, 2012 during the Company’s annual summer season at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The new Peck ballet will be set to composer Philip Glass’ “Four Movements for Two Pianos”.

The season ends with a three-week retrospective of highlights from the Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky and American Music festivals, featuring performances of 30 different ballets with no two performances alike.

Tickets:

Subscription series packages are now available through the NYCB subscription office at 800-580-8730.
Single tickets for all 2012-2013 repertory performances go on sale August 6 at the David H. Koch Theater box office, by phone at 212-496-0600, and online at nycballet.com.
Single tickets for “The Nutcracker” go on sale in September.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 2:44 am 
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Rebecca Krohn and Ana Sophia Scheller promoted to Principal

While on the subject of NYCB, the Company has announced that Rebecca Krohn and Ana Sophia Scheller have been promoted to Principal. Peter Martins, NYCB’s Ballet Master in Chief, made the promotions during the matinee performance on Saturday, May 19.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 1:47 pm 
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David --

Thanks so much for all the information about the NYC Ballet 2012-2013 season. So excited to be making my first trip to NYC this upcoming winter, and especially to see the Nutcracker! It's going to be amazing.

Quote:
”You don't have to know about ballet to enjoy it, all you have to do is look at it.” - Edwin Denby


- Morgan


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:29 am 
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Pia Catton previews the September 18, 2012 opening program of Balanchine choreography to music by Stravinsky in the Wall Street Journal.

Wall Street Journal

Joan Acocella focuses on the Divertimento from "Le Baiser de la Fee" in her preview for the New Yorker.

New Yorker


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:13 pm 
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Alastair Macaulay previews the two weeks of Stravinsky/Balanchine works that open the 2012 Fall Season for the New York Times.

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:38 am 
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Alastair Macaulay reviews the Tuesday, September 18, 2012 performance of "Apollo," "Orpheus" and "Agon" for the New York Times.

NY Times

Leigh Witchel reviews the same program for the New York Post.

NY Post

Apollinaire Scherr reviews the same program for the Financial Times.

Financial Times


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:19 am 
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Location: New Jersey
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

September 20, 2012
Gala Honoring Valentino
“Sophisticated Lady,” “Not My Girl,” “This Bitter Earth; “Rubies,” “Bal de Couture”

- by Jerry Hochman

Fashion Week at Lincoln Center was supposed to have ended last week. It didn’t.

If you’re into haute couture, last night’s New York City Ballet Fall Gala performance at the David H. Koch Theater was your cup of asti spumante. The gala was billed as ‘celebrating legendary fashion designer' Valentino Garavani, and the house was filled to virtual capacity with patrons who either wear, or aspire to wear, Valentino, many of whom (e.g., Anne Hathaway; Sarah Jessica Parker) looked fabulous wearing what I assume were his creations.

The evening also had a dominant color theme. The Grand Promenade (walled off to the great unwashed) was bathed in red tinted lighting – red apparently being a Valentino signature color – and the tables were laden with red ‘pom-pom’-like balls – apparently also a Valentino signature. And all but one of the five dances on the program featured red, or red-infused, costumes.

So what does Valentino have to do with ballet in general, or NYCB in particular? Not much – except he reportedly designed costumes for the Vienna Ballet in 2009, and, as is often the case with dancers, everyone calls him by his first name whether they know him or not. Regardless, many NYCB patrons are Valentino patrons, and it’s not a bad idea for NCYB to recruit other Valentino patrons into the fold. Understandable. But it was a little unsettling to overhear the woman seated behind me, who spent pauses aiming her binoculars at Valentino and his celebrity entourage in the first ring, turn to her companion following the New York premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s new pas de deux to tell her friend the title of the ballet they had just seen: “That was Rubies,” she said conclusively.

In any event, this viewer is a balletomaniac, not a fashionista, so I’m not competent to opine on Valentino’s costume contributions to the evening’s performance in terms of their haute couture qualifications (Valentino created costumes for four of the five pieces on the program: “Sophisticated Lady,” “Not My Girl”, Mr. Wheeldon’s pas de deux “This Bitter Earth,” and Peter Martins’s world premiere, “Bal de Couture”) - but I will anyway in the course of this discussion. They probably looked great close up, or perhaps on a runway, but to this viewer, with a few glorious exceptions, they were a distraction. [And the ‘red’ emphasis was somewhat of a red herring – the best Valentino costumes of the evening, to my eyes, were not red.] But with the understanding that this evening was a celebration of Valentino, it was great fun. Coincidentally, perhaps, it was also an opportunity to see a stunning debut, a New York premiere, a world premiere, and several terrific performances. I will discuss them in order of significance to me, rather than in program order.

First the stunning debut.

I’m beginning to feel self-conscious about regularly singling out one promising NYCB ballerina nearly every time I see her dance. But after a highly limited post-performance survey of other attendees, I know I’m not alone in my evaluation – which has been consistent from the first time she appeared on stage in a featured role, in Mr. Wheeldon’s “Polyphonia” in January, 2011 and instantly became a dancer to watch. Lauren Lovette, who danced the central pas de deux in “Rubies”, is not only an eye magnet; she’s blossoming into both a quality technician and a radiant performer who can add nuance and character to a role with the slightest gesture. She joined the company only six months before her appearance in “Polyphonia” and is still a member of the corps – but I wouldn’t expect that rank to last much longer. As one very knowledgeable friend said about Ms. Lovette: “She’s got it.”

“Rubies,” which, together with “Emeralds” and “Diamonds,” comprise Balanchine’s classic “Jewels”, is usually danced by one lead couple. Last night was not the ‘usual’: for the occasion, Mr. Martins trifurcated the lead couples’ role among three pairs of dancers: one pair for the opening section; another the central pas de deux; and a third the closing section, and all three pairs were debuts. Ms. Lovette, partnered by Anthony Huxley, danced the central pas de deux.

I’ve seen ‘Rubies’ (which features classic Karinska costumes, in red) many times, and the pas de deux to me always seemed to be a somewhat distant, academic exercise designed to convey the sultry jazz quality of Stravinsky’s score rather than the relationship between the dancers – it was not a pas de deux that I would have described as being particularly smoldering or passionate. [Although, based on a photograph hanging on a wall outside the orchestra seating, had I seen Sterling Hyltin in the role I might have thought differently.]

Ms. Lovette added nothing to Balanchine’s choreography that wasn’t already there; her performance just enabled me to see the choreography differently and more completely. I still would not describe it as ‘smoldering’ or ‘passionate’, but it was hardly an academic exercise alone. By the way she carries herself, her facial expressions, something in the way she moves, Ms. Lovette brought out the pas de deux’s sensuality, and I saw flirtation and fleeting carnality that I never before noticed. She made it personal and real, not just a consequence of the steps, and with no sense that it was artificially emphasized.

Although they don’t look at all alike, in terms of intent and impact Ms. Lovette reminds me of Suzanne Farrell. She does the steps, but she doesn’t just do the steps. Like Ms. Farrell, she has the audience in the palm of her hand, and she knows it. Like Ms. Farrell, she could seduce a stone (although Mr. Huxley appeared completely non-responsive and oblivious). And as with Ms. Farrell, a post-performance cold shower may be required for certain overly engaged members of the audience. But unlike Ms. Farrell, Ms. Lovette adds to her stage persona a disarmingly natural quality of youthful sweetness, playfulness and innocence. It’s a killer combination. I recommend seeing Ms. Lovette now, before she becomes too comfortable knowing that she’s got it.

Erica Pereira and Antonio Carmena were a delightful opening couple, with Ms. Pereira’s natural effervescence permeating the piece. Ashly Isaacs (partnered by Daniel Ulbricht), another one of Mr. Martins’s baby birds (“Mes Oiseax” from last Spring), was more hyper than sparkle, and came across as a bit sloppy compared to Mr. Ulbricht, who was both faster than a speeding bullet and clean as a whistle. But the comparison isn’t really fair – Mr. Ulbricht is a Principal; Ms. Isaacs still a member of the corps.

The piece also featured Savannah Lowery and Emily Kikta, in lead roles in the first and third segments of the piece (Mr. Martins bifurcated that role, usually danced by one soloist, between the two of them), and both performed admirably. And Mr. Martins deserves credit not only for the concept of dividing the leading roles, but of giving significant performing, and growth, opportunities to so many promising young dancers – for all but Ms. Lowery, the performances represented their debuts in the roles.

Mr. Wheeldon’s new pas de deux, “This Bitter Earth,” is an excerpt from the ballet “Five Movements, Three Repeats” that Mr. Wheeldon created for Fang-Yi Sheu & Artists. [The full piece is to have its New York premiere next week, in the opening program of the City Center 2012 Fall For Dance Festival.]

I enjoyed Mr. Wheeldon’s pas de deux immensely, but it’s difficult to gauge its impact out of context of the larger piece. Choreographed to songs by Dinah Washington, the pas de deux was a welcome respite from the red-washed balance of the evening. The textured earth-colored (bronze/grey) costumes were elegantly simple and complemented what I could glean was the intent of the piece, and to this viewer they were Valentino’s most successful creation. Beautifully performed by Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle (both of whom will repeat the roles at next week’s Fall for Dance performances), the piece displays a combination of compassion and resignation, a nobility of suffering, that leads to a triumph of survival and enduring mutual love and respect. To this viewer, in all respects (including the lighting by Mary Louise Geiger), the piece was hauntingly magnificent.

The evening’s world premiere, Mr. Martins’s “Bal de Couture,” is exactly as billed – which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Populated by ten pairs of NYCB Principal Dancers, the piece is, indeed, a Couture Ballet – a tribute to Valentino. All but three of the ballerinas wore starchy, bell-shaped full length gowns with black and white designs. In half the gowns the dominant color was black; in the others it was white – with the contrasting color taking various forms across the gowns (zigzag or diamond-shapes dominated). Each gown was underlayered in red and/or pink colored material. The tops were more simple leotard-like tops, with designs that appeared to have been embroidered on. The remaining three ballerinas were dressed in Valentino tutus – red, white, or black marshmallow shaped pom poms -- through which the ballerina was squeezed. All the ballerinas wore red toe shoes.

Mr. Martins choreographed the piece to fit the costumes – a necessity since the costumes dominated the stage. And I concede that although I didn’t like the way the costumes looked on stage, and preferred the section of the ballet that did not contain them, they successfully delivered the couture-dominated theme of the piece – and of the evening. The dancers were haute couture models – a little over the top, but that’s what it’s all about.

The ballet began with the dancers entering the stage in couples, walking down an incline as if walking down a runway at a fashion show. Once on the stage, the ballerinas flourished and preened like the ballerina/fashion models they were intended to be. The choreography was generic ‘dancers at a ball.’

The piece improved thereafter. The middle section, a pas de deux/pas de trois of sorts, was wonderful – as was Valentino’s costume. The section tells a fleeting story – a woman (perhaps an escapee from the ball), dances with a man (Sebastien Marcovici) she has loved and continues to love, but she clearly is also passionately attracted to another man (Robert Fairchild). That’s all we know, but it’s enough. [That it may have been a distillation of “Eugene Onegin” may have been Mr. Martins’s intent, but if so, the distillation went too far.] The dance has a rich, lyrical quality, matched by Valentino’s simple, elegant, and gorgeous feather-light mauve costume. In it, Janie Taylor looked like an angelic butterfly (complete with silver ‘wings’ beneath the open-backed costume). The costume itself was airy, with billowy arms that added to the lighter than air quality. It, she, and the choreography, were lovely.

In the final section, the haute couture crowd reassembled to dance a final ensemble dance to end the ball and close the piece – not so much an haute couture fashion show as an houte couture dance of the fashion nobility. Although the piece comes across similar to practically every conclusion to every Tchaikovsky ballet choreographed by Balanchine, Mr. Martins adds distinctive flourishes – sequential lifts, for example – that are nothing new, but which add to the texture of the piece. Overall, it was a pleasant, if not superb, effort.

The evening began with two very brief, not very substantial, but fun pieces. “Sophisticated Lady”, Mr. Martin’s 1988 fluff to music by Duke Ellington, celebrates an extraordinarily elegant woman/ballerina (Maria Kowroski, in her debut in the role) who is idolized by a horde of male supplicants/escorts (the most prominent being Charles Askegard, who unretired for the occasion). There isn’t much to the piece – lots of flowing, long-winded phrasing with no purpose other than to provide a framework for the ballerina to look sophisticated and be the center of attention. A pas de deux between Ms. Kowroski and her collective admirers; sort of an upper-crust ‘Mame’. But it was gorgeous to look at: the army of adoring men in black tie, and Ms. Kowroski in her brand new for the occasion Valentino red gown. The gown was the star of the piece (more ‘sophisticated’-looking than any other costume on display last night – full length red, with added red ribbon-like highlights running vertically from the waist to the bottom) – but in this case it was appropriate. Ms. Kowroski looked breathtaking in it. Except for a red pom-pom-like gizmo attached at one shoulder – which, to me, looked like a fake flower on steroids – the gown was stunning.

“Sophisticated Lady” was followed by “Not My Girl,” another piece created by Mr. Martins in 1988, to music by Fred Astaire and Van Phillips. The piece is less elegant but more substantial than “Sophisticated Lady,” but even though the intricate Astaire-like footwork was superbly performed by Tiler Peck and Mr. Fairchild (in their role debuts), it was too short and too dominated by the Valentino tutu that he created for the occasion – a ‘standard’ tutu (perhaps a little larger than standard), comprised of a thick layer of a sheep’s wool like substance, colored in diamond-shaped shades of red/purple. It was stiff and striking and cut Ms. Peck’s body in half– it should be donated to a museum promptly.

When the curtain came down on ‘Bal de Couture,’ the closing piece on the program, and after the dancers and Mr. Martins took their bows, Valentino was left on stage alone, to the cheers of his adoring fans, bathed in limelight that, perhaps in my imagination, had a reddish glow. I suspect that the post-performance dinner, to which I was not invited (must have been a clerical oversight), included red-colored food (red-shelled lobster? steak tartare?) and drink (red wine – perhaps asti spumanti). Regardless, one hopes that this tribute to Valentino helps NYCB stay out of the red for the foreseeable future.


Last edited by balletomaniac on Sun Sep 23, 2012 7:18 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:37 pm 
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Alastair Macaulay reviews the Thursday, September 20, 2012 gala for the New York Times.

NY Times

Marina Harss reviews the gala for the Faster Times.

Faster Times


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:13 am 
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In the New York Times, Alastair Macaulay reviews the Saturday matinee performance of Balanchine/Stravinsky's "Scherzo a la Russe," "Danses Concertantes," Divertimento from "Le Baiser de la Fee" and "The Firebird."

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:39 am 
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Robert Gottlieb reviews the Valentino gala and the first week's program ("Apollo," "Orpheus" and "Agon") for the New York Observer.

NY Observer


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 11:54 am 
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In the New York Times, Gia Kourlas reviews the Wednesday, September 26, 2012 performance of Stravinsky/Balanchine ballets: "Violin Concerto," "Monumentum Pro Gesualdo," "Movements for Piano and Orchestra," "Duo Concertant" and "Symphony in Three Movements."

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:48 am 
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In the New York Times, Gia Kourlas reviews the Tuesday, October 2, 2012 performance of Jerome Robbins' "The Cage" and "Andantino" and Balanchine's "Rubies" and "Symphony in C."

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 1:16 pm 
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In New York Magazine, Rebecca Milzoff previews Justin Peck and Sufjan Stevens' "Year of the Rabbit" for NYCB.

NY Magazine


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 2:47 pm 
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Brian Seibert reviews the Thursday, October 4, 2012 performance of Balanchine's "Duo Concertant," Wheeldon's "After the Rain" pas de deux, Robbins' "Moves" and Martins' "Hallelujah Junction" for the New York Times.

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:03 pm 
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Location: New Jersey
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

September 22, 2012, Matinee & Evening; September 29, 2012 Matinee
9/22: M: “Scherzo a la Russe,” “Divertimento from ‘Le Baiser de la Fee’,” “Danses Concertantes,”
”Firebird”
E: “Apollo,” “Orpheus,” “Agon”
9/29: M: “Stravinsky Violin Concerto,” “Monumentum Pro Gesualdo,” “Movements for Piano
and Orchestra,” “Duo Concertant,” “Symphony in Three Movements”

-- by Jerry Hochman

New York City Ballet has dedicated its three-pronged 2012-2013 Season to the Balanchine/Stravinsky collaboration (Fall), a Tchaikovsky celebration (Winter), and an American Music Festival (Spring). The programming isn’t very inventive, particularly since it appears – at least for this season – that NYCB has abandoned its seemingly random programming (where rarely are two repertory performances exactly alike), in favor of the more common scheduling of multiple identical programs that may differ only in casting from one evening to another. While such consistency may be simpler, and probably less expensive where rehearsal time and set changes may be involved, I preferred having the opportunity to select a performance that included the ballets I wanted to see, rather than having the choice made for me.

Be that as it may, this new scheduling is easier to take when, as was the case during the past two weeks, the hits just keep on coming. In every respect, the three programs featured classic Balanchine/Stravinsky collaborations, brilliantly performed. While I may enjoy some ballets more than others, this mini-Stravinsky Festival presented essential Balanchine, a panorama of the development of neo-classical ballet, and concurrently a display of the excellence of NYCB as a company. Although Balanchine ballet has spread around the world, based on what I’ve seen, nobody does it better.

It is tempting to describe the series of Balanchine/Stravinsky collaborations as displaying a creative evolution, and it is to an extent. But to this viewer, Balanchine was a musical explorer, seeing music and applying movement to it, rather than imposing movement on it. So although one way to view this series of performances is as a Balanchine/Stravinsky timeline of sorts from “Apollo” (1928, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes; NYCB premiere 1951), though “Danses Concertantes” (1944, Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo; rechoreographed for NYCB 1972); “Orpheus” (1948); “Firebird” (1949); “Agon” (1957); “Monumentum pro Gesualdo” (1960); “Movements for Piano and Orchestra” (1963); “Rubies” (from “Jewels”, 1967); “Divertimento from ‘Le Baiser de la Fee’” (1972); “Scherzo a la Russe” (1972); “Stravinsky Violin Concerto” (1972); “Symphony in Three Movements” (1972); and “Duo Concertant” (1972), to this viewer it is more a display of Balanchine’s extraordinary virtuosity.

Indeed, ‘evolution’ doesn’t really fit as an overall description, either as applicable to the Balanchine/Stravinsky collaboration (“Rubies” and the recreated “Divertimento” post-dated the pivotal and seminal “Agon”), or to Balanchine alone: shortly before and after “Agon,” Balanchine choreographed “The Nutcracker” (1954), “Western Symphony (1954); and “Stars and Stripes” (1958); in between “Monumentum” and ”Movements” he created “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux” (1962); “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”(1962), and “Bugaku” (1963); and he followed the creative genius displayed in the 1972 Stravinsky Festival with, among other pieces, “Cortege Hongrois” (1973); “Coppelia” (1974); and “Variations Pour une Porte et un Soupir” (1974), followed soon thereafter by “Union Jack” (1976); “Vienna Waltzes” (1977); “Ballo della Regina” (1978); and “Kammermusik No. 2” (1978). While they may not all be masterpieces, the sheer breadth of Balanchine’s creativity is overwhelming, and considerably more than an evolution from pointe A to pointe B.

This review will concentrate less on the nuts and bolts of the ballets, which I believe are generally familiar, than on the performances. Overall, from principals to members of the corps, the company has not treated these pieces reverentially (which, several years ago, is the way I described how Balanchine classics were being performed by NYCB and American Ballet Theater), but as living choreographic organisms that grow and change depending on the input the dancers provide. That this is essential both for the survival of the Balanchine canon as it is for the survival of the company that depends on it is a given – that it is being fulfilled is itself a cause for celebration. To this viewer, NYCB has never been dancing better.

At times, Janie Taylor can look ghostly. Pale and expressionless, she sometimes appears to be concentrating so much on the steps that she loses connection with the audience. But to this viewer, she is not so much aloof as intensely focused, and completely connected to her role. So it was with the clarity of her performances in “Stravinsky Violin Concerto,” and, more dramatically and emphatically, with her portrayal of Eurydice in “Orpheus.”

“Orpheus” comes across as something of a throwback; a narrative form remindful of, “Prodigal Son” and “Apollo”, both of which preceded it by some twenty years, without “Prodigal’s narrative pulse and without the choreographic purity of “Apollo.” But comparisons are deceptive – “Orpheus” is sui generis, and no less a landmark than its predecessors.

“Orpheus,” is a retelling of the myth of the musician/poet/singer who could charm anything and anyone, does exactly that when he travels to Hades to retrieve his dead wife, Eurydice, but is undone by inevitable fate. As is the case with most myths and legends, the Orpheus myth can be found with slight variations from one telling to another -- for example, whether Orpheus turns to look at Eurydice on his own, or at her insistence. The version in this piece displays the latter, which can be seen as somewhat misogynistic, since Eurydice’s enticing passion for Orpheus is the cause of Orpheus’s undoing, but I see the different versions as different ways of explaining the inevitability of fate.

Regardless, what makes “Orpheus” as compelling as it is is its distillation of the characters of Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus barely reacts – he just is. Though influenced by outside forces, Orpheus’s movement quality seems completely inner-directed, internal, repressed. Eurydice’s reaction to outside forces, on the contrary, is externalized – everything seems to flow from within; everything is expressed. Seen this way, “Orpheus” is a study in contrasting characterization through choreography – a passionate character who shows no passion, contrasted with a passionate character whose passion is overwhelmingly present and inescapable. [And I thought I saw Graham-like contractions in the course of the piece – although I concede that the Isamu Noguchui sets and costumes may have inspired that.]

The difference could not be have been more evident in Sebastien Marcovici’s intensely brooding and monochromatic Orpheus, contrasted with Ms. Taylor’s physical intensity and fatal persistence as Eurydice. With more to do, Ms. Taylor dominated the piece, and whenever she was on stage, like Orpheus, one could not keep one’s eyes off her. [Ms. Taylor is having a remarkable season. She was equally dominating and riveting in “The Cage,” a Robbins/Stravinsky piece that was included in a later (October 2) program.]

Chase Finlay burst onto the NYCB scene much as Apollo burst onto the pantheon of gods at birth – a child, not fully developed, but you knew with a little nurturing he’d dominate the firmament. Mr. Finlay is still developing, but the future is upon us. And I’m not writing about “Apollo,” which, in the September 22nd performance, was every bit as good as it was in his initial round of performances slightly more than a year ago, when he was still in the corps (he was promoted to soloist before you could blink). In this viewer’s May, 2011 review of one of those initial performances, I compared him to a nascent Mikhail Baryshnikov or Peter Martins in the role. The comparison still holds.

While “Apollo” is now a signature piece for him (one expects that being treated somewhat like a boy god comes naturally to him), “Duo Concertant” isn’t. Yet. But the fact that Mr. Finlay, partnering Megan Fairchild, executed as well as he did in a piece in which appearing god-like could be a detriment is a major accomplishment.

“Duo Concertant” is one of those Balanchine/Stravinsky collaborations that doesn’t fit the mold. To my recollection, it doesn’t look or feel like any other Balanchine/Stravinsky piece. For example, “Apollo” is a cosmic statement; with character development (just because it’s distilled doesn’t mean it’s not there) and choreographic invention on a grand scale. “Duo Concertant” is no less a statement, but it’s intimate and personal: it has heart and soul – which perhaps why it is one of my favorite Balanchine ballets. Mr. Finlay’s performance was not what I would consider to be flawless (it is neither as crisp and controlled as Robert Fairchild, who I saw dance the role a few seasons ago, nor does it display the economy of movement of Peter Martins, who originated the role), but it was undoubtedly promising. That he and Ms. Fairchild are wonderfully evocative of the original duo, Kay Mazzo and Mr. Martins, is a bonus.

I have previously described Amar Ramasar as one of the more underappreciated NYCB dancers. That this still appears to be the case is a tribute to the quality of NYCB’s contingent of male principals, and to Mr. Ramasar’s ability to look like he’s not there – until one recognizes the extraordinary partnering he does. Mr. Ramasar does not draw attention to himself. Even when he is dancing on his own or as part of a group, as in “Symphony in Three Movements,” he never looks like he’s showing off, even though he has every right to. When he explodes in movement, without any visible preparation, he flies around the stage with an exceptional combination of power and grace. But where Mr. Ramasar shines brightest is in his exquisite, considerate, and flawless partnering.

Last Spring, in reviewing a performance of “Agon,” I recognized Mr. Ramasar’s capability. At this season’s Agon performance, again partnering Maria Kowroski, Mr. Ramasar surpassed even his own standard. With Mr. Ramasar, you can see how hard he’s working, but although the statement seems contradictory, his partnering seems to be effortless. He knows that it’s his job to make the ballerina look good without making it appear that he’s making the ballerina look good. He’s an extraordinary selfless partner, and one of the few, it seems, who can partner any ballerina, tall or short, solid or slight.

Sterling Hyltin is short and slight, but she dances larger than life, and is terrific in anything she does. I’ve seen her act up a storm in “The Concert,” and work magic as Odile in Mr. Martins’s version of “Swan Lake,” but she excels as a technician, and her crystalline lucidity was evident in both “Danses Concertantes” and “Symphony in Three Movements.”

Both “Symphony’ and “Violin Concerto” premiered in the same program on opening night of the 1972 Stravinsky Festival, and immediately were proclaimed – rightfully so – as masterpieces. To this viewer, “Violin Concerto” is the lesser of the two, being more bound to and limited by the Stravinsky score. “Three Movements,” on the other hand, is as glorious now as when I first saw it many years ago. The piece isn’t long (21 minutes), but, like the score, it synthesizes and harmonizes everything that came before: its use of space, time, balance of color and movement, and sheer audacity is breathtaking. It’s a stunning work.

That it was stunningly performed as well was a bonus. Led by Ms. Hyltin and Mr. Ramasar, Tiler Peck and Daniel Ulbricht, and Savannah Lowery and Adrian Danchig-Waring, and enhanced by the NYCB corps, the performance – including the unforgettable final image of the leads and the corps in a pose that encapsulates the novelty and the accomplishment of the piece – was as brilliant as the ballet.

To this viewer, it was Ms. Hyltin’s dominance that made the performance. Although she was emotionless (perhaps that will change as she gains experience in the role – this series of performances marked her debut), her performance luminosity became the focus of attention whenever she was on stage, including when she shared the stage with the flawless and ever-ebullient Ms. Peck.

But to this viewer the most memorable of the series of memorable performances were delivered by Teresa Reichlen. Always a stunning-looking dancer to watch because of her above-the-fray serenity combined with precision and formidable presence (she can dominate the stage just be being on it), I frequently felt that she was playing catch-up, and wasn’t quite comfortable being a principal. She is now. She has things under control – and she injects herself into roles not just as a dancer, but as a person.

An example is her Firebird. Physically, she’s perfect as a goddess-like Phoenix. But Ms. Reichlen’s Firebird is not a goddess-bird. There is a sense of humanity, a quality of compassion, to her performance that warms the heart as much as it dazzles the eyes. How she does it isn’t possible to describe, but it is palpable.

“Firebird” has always impressed me as being a piece one must see in order to hear the Stravinsky score performed live, and to be swept away by the extraordinary Marc Chagall scenery. [Each scene generates a collective audience gasp of both awe and delight. A woman seated near me could hardly restrain herself, percolating in her seat at each new scene, and repeatedly telling her companion that she’d never seen anything so beautiful.] Generally, the choreography is along for the ride. And although part of the choreography for the Firebird may allow for displays of masterful ability, which other NYCB ballerinas who perform the role deliver with crystalline virtuosity and command, except for the Chagall, you’ve seen it once,…. But Ms. Reichlen added the humanity, and doing so converted the role, and the piece, from being an accompaniment to the sets and the score, into being a complement to them.

Focusing as I have on these superlative performances necessarily compresses the opportunity to discuss other stellar performances, and ballets, in detail. “Divertimento from ‘Le Baiser de la Fee’” is a gem that that this viewer is grateful for the opportunity to see again (I last saw it performed by Patricia McBride and Helgi Tomasson in the lead roles). As one would expect from a story loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Ice Maiden” and choreographed to a score that Stravinsky reportedly intended as homage to Tchaikovsky, it’s feels as sweet and warm as…a fairy’s kiss, with a gentle, subtle heart. Megan Fairchild’s performance was lovely without being saccharine, with Joaquin De Luz communicating the rapture of the ardent, doomed young man who loves her but can never cross into her world.
“Monumentum”/”Movements” are not among my favorite Balanchine/Stravinsky pieces, but Maria Kowrowski made both performances memorable. I reviewed (briefly) a May, 2010 performance of “Danses Concertantes,” with the same lead cast (Ms. Hyltin and Gonzalo Garcia) as performed the roles on September 22nd. My response to it is the same – very evocative of ‘Ballet Russes’ (it was first performed by the touring Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, in 1944) – with wonderful original scenery and costumes by Eugene Berman. To this viewer, and despite superlative performances by Ms. Hyltin and Mr. Garcia, the piece is a remembrance evocative of a time and place that may never have existed, with no effort made to connect with the audience – which may have been Balanchine’s intent: bodies moving through space, in period style, and nothing more.

Finally, mention should be made of “Scherzo a la Russe,” a brief piece that opened the September 22nd program. Intended simply as a remembrance of and tribute to Russian women’s folk dancing, the piece often has been used as a demonstrative for graduating students of the School of American Ballet. [A photograph in the Orchestra walkway shows Tiler Peck dancing one of the lead roles as a graduating student.] The performance was significant for the quality of the students, and particularly the leads (Olivia Boisson and Claire von Enck), both of whom are apprentices with the company, but also as a demonstration of NYCB’s continuing tradition.

Several years ago, Miami City Ballet (aka NYCB South) performed briefly in New York, and included classic Balanchine in its repertoire. The performances generated rave reviews, and comparisons to the then moribund NYCB. But that series of MCB performances, and the reviews that followed, appears to have been a wake-up call for NYCB. I don’t know whether it’s cause and effect, but since then, NYCB has reclaimed its heritage and stature. Through the strength of its repertoire (golden oldies that are danced with the enthusiasm of world premieres), and its dancers (top to bottom; principals to apprentices), the company has a firm hold on its future.


Last edited by balletomaniac on Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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