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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:13 am 
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Apollinaire Scherr reviews "Serenade," "Mozartiana" and "Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2" for the Financial Times.

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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:09 pm 
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Robert Johnson reviews the first two weeks of Tchaikovsky programming for the Newark Star-Ledger.

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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:51 pm 
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Alastair Macaulay discusses various aspects of the Tchaikovsky Festival programming in the New York Times.

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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:05 pm 
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Alastair Macaulay reviews Justin Peck's "Year of the Rabbit" and comments briefly on the orchestra's playing for the New York Times.

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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:10 pm 
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Location: New Jersey
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

January 19M, 22, 25
Tchaikovsky Celebration: Programs 2 and 3; ‘Saturday at the Ballet with George’

Swan Lake (Balanchine); Garland Dance (19M only); Allegro Brillante; Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3
Divertimento from ‘Baiser de la Fee’; Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux; Bal de Couture; Diamonds

-- by Jerry Hochman

Although this review will focus on the second and third programs in New York City Ballet’s Tchaikovsky Celebration, I prefer to begin with an aside.

As I reported last year, NYCB has established an annual program of sorts to celebrate the anniversary of George Balanchine’s birth – and to encourage ticket sales. This year’s incarnation of “Saturday at the Ballet with George” was bracketed by two of the Tchaikovsky Celebration programs.

The reason I’m mentioning it now is to emphasize how popular this concept has become (attendees filled the Koch Theater orchestra, and its first two rings), and how memorable the comments can be. In this case, the presentation provided clear recognition of a performance ingredient that should be obvious but is often overlooked: what a dancer inputs into a role can be transmitted to an audience, and can change the audience’s perception of that particular performance, the role, or the entire ballet.

This year, the highlight of the program was a presentation entitled ‘The Balanchine Ballerina,’ which featured seven principal ballerinas (Ashley Bouder, Megan Fairchild, Sterling Hyltin, Maria Kowroski, Rebecca Krohn, Sara Mearns, and Tiler Peck), appearing onstage and seriatim, introducing sections from different Balanchine ballets they had, or would soon, dance this season, discussing what they considered to be significant aspects of the piece, and then dancing excerpts from them (accompanied by partners and corps dancers as appropriate).

It was a great free performance – but it also was a marvelous presentation, all the more significant for dispelling any lingering perception that ballerinas are bunheads (I overheard innumerable members of the audience commenting, with some measure of surprise, on how articulate and intelligent these ballerinas were), and for reemphasizing through the ballerinas’ repeated comments that Balanchine ‘allowed room for the ballerinas to create a world around them’. (Ms. Mearns) That is, contrary to common understanding, Balanchine dancers were not mannequins chained to the choreography and some preconceived image concept, but were given the opportunity to put their own stamp on a role.

Particularly noteworthy, to this viewer, were Ms. Hyltin’s comments about her approach to Mozartiana. Ms. Hyltin said that while others saw in the piece Balanchine’s anticipation of his own death, with accompanying sadness and resignation, she looked at the piece differently from others – she saw Balanchine’s gratitude for what had been a wonderful life. That is, instead of melancholy, she saw joy. And this is exactly what I saw in Ms. Hyltin’s performance, what I noted in my review, and what made her performance so different and enlightening to me. It was as if Ms. Hyltin had pitched a curve ball and I (and others in the audience who had responded to her performance enthusiastically) caught it. And ‘curve balls’ – a dancer’s approach to a role, idiosyncratic as that approach may be – can impact every performance.

Now to the performances – and particularly to Balanchine’s one-act Swan Lake (and any accompanying curve balls).

There are these black swans, and a white swan with a tiara, gliding on a lake in the woods. Hunters arrive, joined shortly thereafter by their leader, who we know from the program to be Prince Siegfried. Siegfried sees the white swan with a tiara, who we know from the program is Odette, Queen of the Swans, emerge from the woods after having shape-shifted into a ballerina, and is immediately smitten. But Odette is very sad. We’re not told why. The black swans, who also have morphed into ballerinas, then appear. They all dance. But there’s this bird-like beast, identified as Von Rotbart, a Sorcerer, who controls all the swans. Rotbart (there’s no ‘h’ in this version of his name) compels the ballerinas to go back to being swans. The swans swim away, and Prince Siegfried is left alone in the woods, sad and lonely and a little bewildered. The end.

If it sounds as if there’s a little something missing from this scenario, it’s because there is. What’s missing is Swan Lake the ballet, as we have come to know it.

As he did so frequently, Balanchine distilled Swan Lake to its essence, creating a one-act mixture of the white acts in the ‘standard’ productions (those based on the Petipa/Ivanov version of 1895, which was a revival of the original production of 1877). In the process, Balanchine deleted such thesis-provoking plotlines as the Prince’s relationship with his mother (who, after all, orders him to pick a bride and at the same time gives him the cross-bow by which he would hunt for her) and anything relating to Odile [e.g., the deep psychological meaning behind Siegfried’s succumbing to Odile’s temptations; the symbolism behind pure white Odette vs seductive black Odile; whether Odile was Rothbart’s daughter or Rothbart’s created puppet (not really mutually exclusive); whether Odette and Odile were really different sides of Siegfried’s (or any man’s) ideal woman (I could get into more detail, but this is a family review), and whether “Swan Lake” should end in suicide, triumph over evil, rebirth, or some combination of all of them.] The result is your standard operating ‘boy-meets-girl-he-can’t-have’ story, but instead of the girl coming from another world (La Sylphide), or another class (Giselle), or who’s already dead (Giselle; La Bayadere), or a dream (La Bayadere; Don Quixote), she’s a folk-tale inspired bird.

Sort of takes the fun out of it.

It’s tempting to try to go back to the origins of Swan Lake to see if Balanchine was trying to eliminate all of the bells and whistles as defined by Petipa/Ivanov and return to some original folk story. But Swan Lake's folk origins aren’t all that clear – and are probably irrelevant. It is much more likely that Balanchine went back to the version with which he was familiar and distilled it, eliminating those nifty, nasty plot diversions.

I know no one who likes this one act version. To many viewers, it’s a betrayal. They come expecting Swan Lake; they get a version that’s both condensed and cut-and-paste and nothing at all like what they paid to see. The usual reason given by more knowledgeable members of the audience is that it is both emotionally and visually monochromatic (even with the black swans), and inherently less interesting to watch.

But this version deserves to be viewed on its own terms, not just as a distillation, but also as a complete production, limited as it is to a consolidation of Acts II and IV of the full-length. Evaluated on its own merits, I’m left with a decidedly mixed opinion. The white act choreography for the corps, based on Lev Ivanov’s choreography for the white acts in the 1895 St. Petersburg production, is stunning (which is at least in part a tribute to the quality of NYCB’s corps dancers). I don’t miss the Big Swans or the Cygnets – the additional choreography, including the Pas de Neuf and the Valse Bluette, more than compensates. And while the choreography for Odette and Siegfried is not as extraordinary as it is in the ‘standard’ version, it is sufficient – even without mime – to convey the hopelessness of the situation they’re in.

But even limited to the white acts, this one-act Swan Lake is disappointing in many respects. The elimination of plot add-ons, if that’s what they were, also eliminates much of what makes Swan Lake as we know it as compelling as it is – without the battling sub-plots and contrasting forces of energy, it’s just another set of pretty patterns. Moreover, together with eliminating these ‘extraneous’ ingredients, Balanchine also eliminated all mime. So not only do we not have Odile and Siegfried’s mother, we also don’t have a pledge of love, or the story of Odette’s predicament.

I also miss the opportunity for individual virtuosity built into the Petipa/Ivanov version. Displays of ‘swan arms,’ which can look beautiful if done well, have been limited; Odette’s entrance is a walk-on, and her ‘Act II exit’ under Rotbart’s command is more sad than dramatic. The absence of pyrotechnics (the extraordinary lifts that are usually present in Act II, for example) is disappointing. And the character of ‘Rotbart’ is a non-entity. In a production that cries out for some change of tempo, some drama, all that this Rotbart is allowed to do is to swing his arms back and forth a few times, stomp around like The Incredible Hulk, and wear this ridiculous bird suit. Surely the costume can be imagined better than that – he’s a Sorcerer after all, not an oversized black-feathered parrot. [Yes, I’m aware that Rothbart’s costume for the original production has been described as bird-like.]

And then there are the hunters. They enter the stage at the beginning of the piece (following the overture/parade of the swans) in large numbers, an advance brigade rather than the small entourage that usually accompanies Siegfried in other versions, and then they disappear. They reappear later in the act when the black swan/ballerinas frame the pas de deux between Siegfried and Odette. Although dressed as hunters, they neither hunt nor partner the black swans. Rather, they’re human pillars on which the black swan/ballerinas in the corps rest – one on one side; one the other – while each hunter/pillar grips the waist of the swan/ballerina on each side. Why are they there? If this is some vestige from the original staging (1877, 1895, or any other year), it’s a silly choice to have made, given the paring down in other respects. If their presence is only to assist in the creation of a preferred choreographic picture, it undermines the apparent effort to eliminate superfluous bloat. And if there is some plot-related purpose for their presence, what is it? Aren’t the swans afraid of the hunters? Was there some sort of temporary rapprochement (as there was between Siegried and Odette)? Was there some lakeside getting-to-know-you soiree?

But all can be forgiven, almost, when the lead dancers are Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle (on the 19th), and Sara Mearns and Jared Angle (on the 22nd). In this role in particular, Ms. Mearns’s natural tendency toward overstated emotionalism is not only appropriate, but essential – in light of the absence of mime – to convey the requisite desperation. Although I saw more pathos than regality in her portrayal, it was a super performance.

This second program in NYCB’s Tchaikovsky Celebration also included the masterpieces Allegro Brillante and Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3, both of which were recently reviewed, and both of which I consider to be the finest examples of the Balanchine/Tchaikovsky collaboration. Tiler Peck and Amar Ramasar gave a scintillating performance on the 19th, and Megan Fairchild and Mr. Ramasar did the same on the 22nd. The four movements of Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3 – Elegie, Valse Melancoliue, Scherzo, and Tema Con Variazioni – were given commendable performances by, respectively, Teresa Reichlen and Ask La Cour, Janie Taylor and Sebastien Marcovici, Erica Pereira and Daniel Ulbricht, and Ms. Fairchild and Andrew Veyette on the 19th; and on the 22nd by Rebecca Krohn and Zachary Catazaro, Abi Stafford and Justin Peck; Ana Sophia Scheller and Antonio Carmena, and Ashley Bouder and Mr. Veyette. Without in any way ‘ranking’ any of the performances, all of which were top notch, Ms. Fairchild and Mr. Veyette gave ‘Theme’ a special flair, and Ms. Krohn added extraordinary intensity to ‘Elegie’.

The third, and final, repertory program in the Tchaikovsky Celebration (the final program will be Peter Martins’s full-length Sleeping Beauty) included Divertimento from 'Le Baiser de la Fee', Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Bal de Couture, and Diamonds(the third gem in Balanchine’s evening-length Jewels). Except for Mr. Martins’s 'Bal,' which didn’t really fit, the program provided further examples of the extraordinary Balanchine/Tchaikovsky collaboration. [Mr. Martins might consider restructuring the piece to more clearly link the ‘bal’ to the piece’s central pas de deux, and to downplay the ‘couture’ – which as presented restricts the ballet to being a piece d’occasion (the ‘Valentino gala’) rather than a choreographic work that will endure.]

'Baiser,' the pas de deux, and Diamonds each provide interesting counterpoints to Balanchine’s Swan Lake.

‘Baiser’ is as fresh and streamlined and exhilarating as his Swan Lake is disappointing. While the underlying story is similar (a boy loves a girl and she him, but they live in different worlds and their love cannot endure), the treatment is very different, more abstract, and in this viewer’s opinion much more successful. Indeed, 'Divertimento' hints at what Balanchine’s Swan Lake might have been had it not been tethered to the Petipa/Ivanov concept. There are fairies, but no fairy costumes or wings; there is love and loss, but no pathos; and there is a ‘search’ for what cannot be found (there’s always a search). But it’s all displayed as a series of beautiful and bittersweet choreographed emotions unburdened by restrictive plotlines, sets or costumes, with enduring and haunting images of hopeless parallel dreams that can never be fulfilled. The extraordinarily sensitive performances by Ms. Peck and Robert Fairchild were breathtaking.

Following the 1877 premiere of Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky was asked to compose a new pas de deux for the lead ballerina. [The pas de deux’s genesis is a bit more complicated than that, but there’s no need to delve into that here.] The ballerina was reportedly pleased with it, but the composition was not part of the original score and was not available to Petipa when he revived the ballet in 1895. The composition was lost for more than 50 years. It is the music for this Act III pas de deux that Balanchine used to choreograph what became his free-standing and broadly familiar Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. While it might have been interesting, as well as a bit ironic, to have included this pas de deux on the same program as Balanchine’s one act Swan Lake, I’ll take it whenever I can get it. The piece is a glorious example of Balanchine style (constant, exhilarating movement but without unnecessary pyrotechnics) applied to Tchaikovsky’s music, and is now a repertory staple in many companies around the world. The pas de deux was given a rousing performance by Ms. Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz.

While the performance of Diamonds on the 25th also was comparable, in a sense, to Balanchine’s Swan Lake, the comparison was a result of the performance by Ms. Mearns rather than the choreography.

Although I appreciate the piece more in the context of Jewels as a whole, Diamonds is a particularly appropriate conclusion to the repertory section of the Tchaikovsky Celebration. If any of the Balanchine/Tchaikovsky pieces can be seen as an homage to Balanchine’s Russian imperial roots, it is Diamonds – even more than Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2. Clearly, as the dancers repeatedly bow – literally to each other – they are communicating Balanchine’s tribute to his Russian heritage.

The piece seems highly repetitious at first, but repetitious the way that facets on a brilliantly cut diamond are repetitious, and gradually builds in intensity to its finale (which resembles, and appears derivative of, Balanchine’s ‘Theme and Variations’). In all of its movements, however, the piece has an innate majesty to it. To this viewer, in the central pas de deux (the ‘andante elegiac’ movement), Ms. Mearns was doleful rather than noble – as if her stage persona had carried over from her Odette; she seemed to be in mourning. The characterization, perhaps Ms. Mearns’s ‘curve ball,’ may have been appropriate for an elegy, but in this viewer’s opinion not for this piece. But the pathos disappeared immediately thereafter, replaced by the regal demeanor that should have been there throughout, and Ms. Mearns had the NYCB audience cheering. Ms. Mearns was partnered gallantly by Ask La Cour.

And that, in a sense, is a distillation of what these Tchaikovsky ballets (if not all ballets) are about. Tchaikovsky pitches his score. Balanchine ‘sees it’ differently from others, and creates miraculous ballets that provide a new way of ‘seeing’ the music. And dancers see these ballets differently from the way other dancers see them, creating performances that provide a different way for an audience to ‘see’ the role, or the ballet as a whole. Sometimes the curve ball that the dancer pitches results in a disappointing strike out, or a fowl ball; sometimes in a home run. So it goes.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:28 am 
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Spring 2013 Gala - Change of date and programme

New York City Ballet has announced that its 2013 Spring Gala will now take place on Wednesday, May 8 at 7pm, and not the following evening as announced originally.

Highlighting the evening will be two works by Christopher Wheeldon. The first will be a re-working of "Soiree Musicale", set to Samuel Barber’s "Souvenirs", which he originally created for the School of American Ballet Workshop performance in 1998. For the NYCB premiere, the ballet will feature revised choreography. The second Wheeldon work will be the world premiere of an as yet unnamed new pas de deux set to Leonard Bernstein’s "Sonata for Clarinet and Piano".

The evening will also celebrate the 25th Anniversary of New York City Ballet’s 1988 American Music Festival and will feature highlights from the Company’s repertory of American music and dance, including excerpts from signature works by Balanchine and Robbins set to the music of Bernstein, Philip Glass, George Gershwin, and John Philip Sousa.

Tickets to the performance start at $29 and are available at the David H. Koch Theater box office, online at http://www.nycballet.com, or by calling 212-496-0600.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:28 pm 
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Location: New Jersey
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

January 31, 2013
Paz de La Jolla (Peck world premiere); Variations pour Une Porte et Un Soupir, Concerto DSCH

-- by Jerry Hochman

For twenty years, New York City Ballet has dedicating a performance program to a “New Combinations Evening” intended to showcase choreography that reflects George Balanchine’s famous declaration: “There are no new steps, only new combinations.” This year’s program included the world premiere of Justin Peck’s Paz de La Jolla, a revival of Balanchine’s 1974 Variations pour Une Porte et Un Soupir, and Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH. The highlight of the evening turned out to be what, for me, was least expected: ‘Porte/Soupir’, and particularly the extraordinary performances by Maria Kowroski and Daniel Ulbricht.

First, however, Mr. Peck’s world premiere.

After his triumphant Year of the Rabbit last season, anticipation was high that Mr. Peck’s new piece would be as good. That it isn’t is disappointing.

Paz de La Jolla is not entirely without the interesting stagecraft and choreographic novelty that permeated Year of the Rabbit, but most of it is confined to the middle section of the piece. The opening and closing are more frenetic than they need to be, too bound by the music, and too limited by the choice Mr. Peck made in visualizing the music.

The piece is choreographed to Bohuslav Martinu’s “Sinfonietta la Jolla,” which was composed (depending on your source) either in 1950 or 1951. Martinu, born in 1890, was a Czech expatriate who lived in Paris in the 1920s and 30s, left Paris in 1940, in advance of Nazi occupation, and fled to the United States in 1941, where he lived for many years. After World War II ended, he divided his time between the United States and Europe, and died in Switzerland in 1959.

I admit to being unfamiliar with Martinu’s work, but based on my limited research he has a vocal following. Trained either in the romantic or classical style, or both (again depending on the research source), Martinu became influenced while in Paris by ‘modernistic’ trends, including jazz, syncopation, and experimental music. [Based on a listing of his compositions in Wikipedia, Martinu’s early works included pieces composed for ballet, the last of which, ominously titled “The Strangler,” was composed after Martinu moved to New York. Hmm.] But musical radicalism yielded to moderating tendencies after the war, and his later works returned to a more classical idiom – while maintaining remnants of other musical ingredients. Reportedly, he was influenced by Debussy, Stravinsky, and Haydn. [I also sensed a kinship of sorts between Martinu and Shostakovich, based on the score used in Mr. Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH (Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major), although without Shostakovich’s pastiche and sense of irony.]

“Sinfonietta la Jolla” was commissioned by the Arts Society of La Jolla, California, and obviously reflects both Martinu’s take on the qualities and ambiance of that Pacific Coast community, as well as what the La Jolla Musical Arts Society wanted to hear. Martinu’s mixed musical heritage shows in the piece, which exhibits a little of everything, and has an overall sense, to this listener, of exhilaration combined with a sense of inner peace. What “Sinfonietta la Jolla” does not have in this listener’s opinion is a mandatory musical connection with a Pacific Coast beach, in La Jolla or anywhere else – which is Mr. Peck’s setting for his visualization of Martinu’s composition. [I don’t doubt that there is a beach somewhere in or near La Jolla – there’s a beach almost anywhere in Southern California. But in a brief visit to La Jolla several years ago, I recall seeing a rocky, cove-like swimming area, not a beach per se.]

The ballet’s initial image as the curtain rises is riveting – dancers randomly bourreeing as if welcoming the day – but degenerates almost immediately into the kind of frenzied activity that can be found on any vibrant, non-conformist beach/boardwalk. With one exception, the dancers are costumed in unattractive representations of swimming attire that one might see on a boardwalk in Venice, CA, with most everyone in the large cast (three principals and fifteen members of the corps) attired in some way differently from another – appropriate, perhaps, to represent a beach where personal expression is a prerequisite for a public appearance, but difficult to absorb visually. This costume cacophony quickly is matched by choreographic cacophony -- everyone seemed to be doing his or her own thing (again, not inappropriate for a nonconformist beach, but difficult to watch). Mr. Peck continues to do wondrous and inventive work for the corps – but the impression is a mess of activity. The one constant is Tiler Peck, who appears to personify the lone boardwalk skater who darts to and fro and up and down to her own beat, oblivious to the frenzy around her. She’s very good, but her character makes Ms. Peck look like some boardwalk Puck on some directionless errand in some midsummer day’s dream.

Sterling Hyltin is the one girl dressed in something other than swimwear: a white skirt, white jacket liberally cut to mid rib-cage, and with a conservatively bare midriff. She’s the girl from another place, the outsider who gets involved with one of the beach boys (Amar Ramasar), and gets ostracized (sort of) by the rest of the beach clique. I kept seeing Olivia Newton-John.

The story, such as it is, is not so terrible or so unusual. What is disappointing is that Mr. Peck felt that need to choreograph to every musical note – and in the opening and closing sections of the piece, there are a lot of them. Such slavish devotion to the musical beat does not enhance the music – the choreography gets buried in it, and it all looks very frenetic and very busy. As one friend put it, it looks like early Millepied.

On the other hand, the pas de deux between Ms. Hyltin and Mr. Ramasar that is the foundation for the central section of the piece is both lovely and edgy – the couple walk along the beach romantically but innocently, Mr. Ramasar’s character wants more (evidenced by his sudden lunge for, and grip of, Ms. Hyltin’s hip), Ms. Hyltin’s character’s initial hesitancy is overcome, and they descend to the stage floor. [The audience fills in the blanks – it’s not exactly Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, but you get the idea.] Shortly after, the couple sees the beach denizens, their outfits now covered in blue tops (jackets, shirts, representative of swimmers in the blue water?). Frankly, I have no idea what this is supposed to represent, but it’s nicely done (a little Ratmansky influence), looks both interesting and intriguing, and gives the piece texture that it sorely needs.

It may well be that a second exposure to the piece will allow me to overlook deficiencies that appear, at least on initial viewing, to overwhelm the piece. The inventive corps work is still there, and perhaps a second view will encourage a change of focus and a different evaluation.

Second views have a tendency to do that. So it was with Balanchine’s ‘Porte/Soupir’.

Variations Pour une Porte et un Soupir is comprised entirely of sounds of a creaking door (‘une porte’) and breathy, heavy sighs (‘un soupir’). To this composition Balanchine applied highly expressive choreography to match. I saw ‘Porte/Soupir’ following its 1974 premiere, and vividly remember disliking it intensely (as did the rest of the house, based on the audience’s leaden response). I recall feeling that Balanchine had foisted this obviously experimental piece on an unwilling audience just to establish, or reestablish, his avant garde bonafides, and that it was bad enough to have to sit through an interminable agglomeration of creaks and groans, but to have to sit through dull and repetitive choreography was worse. And, to me, the piece (as well as the accompanying performances – I don’t recall whether I saw the original or a later cast) was guilty of the worst of performing arts sins – it was boring.

‘Porte/Soupir’ is choreographed to ‘music’ by Pierre Henry, who, according to the program notes, used electronic techniques to record sounds, and then used these sounds to compose a score. [I concede my prejudice – I don’t consider a score that consists entirely of creaks and groans to be music, although I’ll grant that putting the sound snippets together into some cohesive form is an art.] Again according to the program notes, Henry was influential in France, collaborated with Maurice Bejart, and created many scores for Bejart’s Ballet of the 20th Century (“Ballet du XXe Siècle”), the company to which Suzanne Farrell had defected several years earlier. As a friend suggested to me, competition may have been a motive for the piece’s creation: anything he can do I can do better. Whatever the reason, I hated it.

Time passes.

I still dislike the piece, but I can now appreciate it, thanks to the scintillating performances by Ms. Kowroski and Mr. Ulbricht. I tend to use too many adjectives when I describe performances, because I’m not inventive enough to manufacture adequate replacements. But there are no adjectives sufficient to describe these two performances. Mr. Ulbricht, in his role debut, was a combination feral cat and wild dog, lunging, attacking, and rolling over and playing dead to the sounds of throaty sighs. Ms. Kowroski, whose movement was much less physically punishing (hers was a relatively statue-like character, upright like a door, moving her arms and torso to match the door’s creaks, to whom a stage-sized gray/black oversized curtain-like contraption was attached). In addition to her physical contortions, Ms. Kowroski moved over, around, and under this whatever-it’s-called as if she were wrapping herself in and out of an oversized cloak. [With a few contractions, she could have been dancing Graham.]

But describing what they did is insufficient. What made their performances was the detached intensity: the raw power of Mr. Ulbricht’s animal vs. the raw power of Ms. Kowroski’s majestic presence (remindful of the Siren in Balanchine’s Prodigal Son). And their performances made the piece come alive. Although there was never any direct connection between Ms. Ulbricht’s sighs and Ms. Kowoski’s creaking door, I sensed that there was communication of sorts between them, and a conversation of sorts between Henry’s sighs and creaks. Even though I still find ‘Port/Soupir’ to be too long and too strange to like, these are performances that must not be missed.

The ‘new combinations’ evening concluded with Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH, which premiered in 2008, and which I have previously reviewed. Clearly, Ratmansky draws inspiration from Shostakovich – the piece is one of many that Ratmansky has choreographed to a Shostakovich composition, with more scheduled to come. The piece was given rousing, justifiably well-received performances by Ashley Bouder, Tyler Angle, Joaquin De Luz, and Troy Schumacher (unannounced replacement for Sean Suozzi, and in his debut in the role), and Janie Taylor, whose performance added both drama and grace. These five were ably abetted by a bevy of 14 corps dancers, all of whom were given featured opportunities and performed admirably.

In basic structure as well as appearance, Concerto DSCH is remindful of Mr. Peck’s premiere earlier in the evening, but it is far more coherent. And it demonstrates one vital quality that seems particularly difficult for talented new choreographers to learn (and that should be particularly apparent in a company nurtured by George Balanchine): that less is more.


edited to correct typos, and unannounced cast change


Last edited by balletomaniac on Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:51 pm 
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Apollinaire Scherr reviews the premiere of Justin Peck's "Paz de la Jolla" for the Financial Times.

Financial Times


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:37 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
In the New York Times, Brian Seibert reviews the January 31, 2013 performance of Justin Peck's "Paz de la Jolla," Balanchine's "Variations Pour une Porte et un Soupir" and Alexei Ratmansky's "Concerto DSCH."

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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:14 pm 
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In the New York Post, Leigh Witchel reviews Justin Peck's "Paz de la Jolla," Alexei Ratmansky's "Concerto DSCH" and Balanchine's "Variations Pour une Porte et un Soupir."

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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:17 pm 
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In the New York Times, Alastair Macaulay reviews the Friday, February 1, 2013 Art Series program: Christopher Wheeldon's "Polyphonia," William Forsythe's "Herman Schmerman (Pas de deux)," Balanchine's "Variations pour une porte et un soupir" and Peter Martins' "Waltz Project." Also reviewed is the Tuesday, February 5 performances of Robbins' "N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz" and Balanchine's "Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2."

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:46 pm 
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Hi, Jerry.

I'm still back at your January 15, 16, 2013, Serenade: Mozartiana; Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 (Ballet Imperial), review. As always I truly appreciate your very interesting and highly detailed summaries. I like to read them for pleasure and don't want to rush through them.

Not being in New York much, I get to see very little of the NYCB or any American Balanchine performances. I wish I could and I wish that I could communicate more in response to what you write.

What I've enjoyed very much over the last few years is being able to see the Mariinsky perform a lot of Balanchine. One reason for this is probably that the Mariinsky Ballet's artistic director, Yuri Feteyev, was (and still is?) the company's Balanchine coach. "Jewels" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will be featured at the Mariinsky Festival next month. Possibly a first ever is that the same lady, the same evening, will dance the lead in Diamonds, Rubies and Emeralds -- Ekaterina Kondaurova. This should be quite something ! She is quite something !

The Mariinsky's is a very lyrical approach. I often wonder what George Balanchine's response would have been. Maybe I can send Suzanne Farrell an email about this someday. Have you or anyone else ever heard any Balanchine associates' comments about this ?

Newspaper reviewers in London, and there're a lot of them, have been quite enthusiastic. I personally love what I've been seeing. Clement Crisp, a leading and venerated London reviewer, has been especially supportive. Of possible interest is his very complimentary review of the Bolshoi's young wonder, Olga Smirnova (a Vaganova Academy ('Mariinsky') graduate), in Diamonds.

"It was the American ballerina Merrill Ashley who told me about Olga Smirnova. A superb Balanchine dancer, Ashley had been in Moscow with the Bolshoi Ballet in June [2012], setting Diamonds, the final part of Jewels, Balanchine’s trilogy exploring the ideas of cities, styles, women dancing. “You must see my ballerina in Diamonds. She’s prodigious – 19 years old, just graduated from the Vaganova School in Petersburg, and just recruited for the Bolshoi. She has the most exquisite upper-body, and a magical presence.”

"I saw superb performances by Suzannne Farrell, for whom a fascinated Balanchine made Diamonds. Smirnova’s radiance, the unaffected nobility of her manner and the charm of her means make the role hers. She creates something magical and it touches the spirit. Not since the earliest performances by Altynai Asylmuratova have I seen so luminous a debut. We have much to hope for."

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/f16dc240 ... z2K8RzOIHP

So Balanchine has returned to Russia. I hope to be at the Mariinsky Festival this year and I also hope to see Peter's Martin's "The Sleeping Beauty" on the way over.

Keep up the great reviews.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:12 pm 
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Andrew Blackmore-Dobbyn reviews the Tuesday, February 5, 2013 performance of Peter Martins' "Waltz Project," Robbins' "N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz" and Balanchine's "Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2" for Broadway World.

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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:10 pm 
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Tobi Tobias writes her impressions of the January 15-27, 2013 Balanchine/Tchaikovsky performances in her blog in Arts Journal.

Arts Journal


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 Post subject: Re: New York City Ballet 2012-2013 Season
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:17 pm 
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Tobi Tobias reviews Justin Peck's "Paz de la Jolla" for her blog in Arts Journal.

Arts Journal


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