New York City Ballet

'Mozartiana,' 'Ballade,' 'Chiaroscuro,' 'Who Cares?'

by Kate Snedeker

February 8, 2003, matinee-- New York State Theater, NY

With New York covered in a sparkling blanket of fresh snow, New York City Ballet patrons were treated to an equally sparkling afternoon of ballet.

The program spanned nearly a quarter century of dance, ranging from Balanchine's sprightly “Who Cares?”, premiered in 1970, to Lynn Taylor-Corbett's powerful "Chiaroscuro", which was part of the 1994 Spring Season Diamond Project.

Balanchine’s last ballet, "Mozartiana," with Philip Neal substituting for the injured Damian Woetzel, opened the afternoon’s performance. In the Preghiera, Kyra Nichols combined elegance with restrained power and demonstrated a mature combination of flow and crispness. Not a step was blurred and each pose held as it should be, but yet her dancing

The four young girls from the School of American Ballet were delightful, youthful reflections of the four corps members. Daniel Ulbricht’s beautifully pointed feet stood out in his powerful, but precise Gigue. Philip Neal was solid, especially in his careful partnering of Nichols, and showed a wonderful stretch and crispness in his beats. The performance was complimented by Rouben Ter-Artunian’s simple black and white costumes.

Due to injury and illness, "Burleske" was replaced by Balanchine’s dreamily romantic "Ballade," danced by Wendy Whelan and Robert Tewsley. In the afternoon’s performance, Whelan and Tewsley’s dancing was technically polished with an obvious emotional connection. This wavering emotion, flickering from great tenderness to growing distance, was obvious and added greatly to the performance. Whelan’s tender delicacy was an excellent match for the Royal Ballet School-trained Tewsley’s classical solidity. However, Tewsley has a tendency towards heavy landings in grand jetes and tour le en airs, a bit distracting from the otherwise graceful performance.

Lynn Taylor-Corbett’s" Chiaroscuro," to Geminiani’s music, was the highlight of the afternoon. Led by the original male cast of Tom Gold, James Fayette and Jock Soto, the ballet is structured into fast and slow sections, literally, as chiaroscuro translates, “the play of light and dark.”

Jock Soto, in a stand-out performance, seemed to be at the center of a continuous, push and pull battle. Jennie Somogyi, Miranda Weese and Pascale Van Kipnis provided athletic performances, in "Chiaroscuro," the focus is on the men. Fayette, most often cast as a partner, was allowed to show of his considerable solo skills, and his solid physique was ideal for the bent-kneed jumps and male on male partnering that are oft seen in Taylor-Corbett’s choreography. The edgy choreography was also a perfect match for Gold’s hyperkinetic, intense dancing. Holly Hynes’ simply cut costumes allowed the choreography to take center stage, but Michael Zansky’s hanging paintings lost their effectiveness, as distance made the details indiscernible.

The afternoon concluded with Balanchine’s “Who Cares?”, a series of dances to George Gershwin’s moving music. Charles Askegard made an enjoyable debut in the principal male role, partnering Jenifer Ringer, Alexandra Ansanelli and Pascale van Kipnis in the three major duets. Ringer is always spectacular in this ballet, and was equally as stunning with her long limbs a perfect match for Askegard’s height. Van Kipnis was more restrained, but equally as effective in the sweeping choreography of “Build a Stairway to Paradise." However, while the great height difference between Askegard and Ansanelli & Van Kipnis allowed for unusual smoothness in some of the choreography, it gave the duets a mismatched look.

There were a few misplaced arms in the opening and closing group numbers, but the male corps in particular danced with enthusiasm and energy. Kyle Froman and Darius Crenshaw stood out for their dancing in the brief opening duets. Costumes by Ben Benson and the skewed New York skyline by Jo Mielziner completed the performance.

All ballets were lit by Mark Stanley.

Edited by Mary Ellen Hunt.

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