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New York City Ballet: Square Dance, Liebeslieder Walzer, Stars and Stripes

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 10, 2007
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
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New York, NY 10023
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Featured Dance Company:

New York City Ballet
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New York State Theater
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New York City Ballet
(NYC Ballet Website)
Essential Balanchine

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children's Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Fayçal Karoui
Marketing and Communications, Managing Director, Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns
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New York State Theater, Lincoln Center
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(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).
Guest Conductor: David Briskin

About the Author:
Square Dance (1957): (See January 12, 2005 Review). Music by Arcangelo Corelli and Antonio Vivaldi, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Abi Stafford, Nikolaj Hübbe, and the Company. Balanchine wrote, "The American style of classical dancing, its supple sharpness and richness of metrical invention, its superb preparation for risks, and its high spirits were some of the things I was trying to show in this ballet." (NYCB Notes).

Nikolaj Hübbe is always a fascinating figure, and Abi Stafford seems to have new-found sparkle this season, so Square Dance was replete with innate charisma. The arm extensions of the company, in ensemble dance and later in groups of four, illustrate Balanchine's choreographed exultation to the Corelli and Vivaldi scores. A rising star, Devin Alberda, is a joy to watch, with solid landings and natural poise. Ms. Stafford literally glowed, and her pas de deux, although she is considerably shorter than Mr. Hübbe, were energized and flawless.

Liebeslieder Walzer (1960): (See May 20, 2006 Review). Music by Johannes Brahms (Opus 52 and Opus 65), Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Pianists: Richard Moredock and Susan Walters, Singers: Nancy Allen Lundy, Brian Anderson, Jennifer Roderer, Jan Opalach, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Jenifer Ringer, Jennie Somogyi, Miranda Weese, Stephen Hanna, Sébastien Marcovici, Philip Neal, and Damian Woetzel. Brahms composed the first set of "Walzer" in 1969, which was so successful that he composed the second set on 1874. Balanchine used both sections to celebrate the social dances of Vienna, mid 19th Century. The first set is domestic and intimate, with the second set more theatrical. (NYCB Notes).

With duo pianists on one piano, four opera singers (soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, bass-baritone), and two complete "Parts", Liebeslieder Walzer is a sumptuous production. Karinska's elegant costumes, of satin, taffeta, tulle, ribbons, short heels, and black tie and tails, plus David Mitchell's salon, with floor-ceiling windows, rounded, open doors, distant sunset, and chandelier, create a vision of opulent Vienna, mid 19th Century. Sébastien Marcovici and Jenifer Ringer evoked impassioned ebullience, while Maria Kowroski threw herself, soulfully, into this imagined romantic salon with Stephen Hanna. Damian Woetzel and Miranda Weese waltzed with seamless and buoyant confidence, while Philip Neal and Jennie Somogyi added casual humor and camp. The first Part exuded an air of fashionable pursuit, while the second Part exuded surreal classicism.

Stars and Stripes (1958): (See February 27, 2005 Review). Music adapted and orchestrated by Hershy Kay after music by John Philip Sousa, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by David Hays, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Ellen Bar, Tom Gold, Ashley Bouder, Andrew Veyette, and the Company. Balanchine created five "campaigns" with changing Sousa themes. This ballet was performed for the opening ceremonies for the New York State Theater. (NYCB Notes).

This was the dance that book-ended Balanchine's eclecticism and creativity. Sterling Hyltin, in the First Campaign (there are five), called "Corcoran Cadets", was accompanied by an ensemble of twelve female corps dancers. Ms. Hyltin seems to be on the threshold of success, as she appears more and more frequently in challenging solo roles. And, this rising star from Texas has energy and enthusiasm to spare. Her long, lanky limbs and electric engagement of the audience serve her well in youthful, upbeat roles. Ellen Bar, leading the Second Campaign, called "Rifle Regiment", was also accompanied by twelve female corps dancers. Very structured, very Balanchine, very enjoyable, very effective.

Tom Gold led the Third Campaign, Called "Thunder and Gladiator", and he, too, was accompanied by twelve male corps dancers, spinning, leaping, marching, and wildly entertaining this Saturday night crowd. The Fourth Campaign was led by Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette as "Liberty Bell" and "El Capitan". Ms. Bouder literally flew mid-air and brought the dance to Sousa sensation. Hershy Kay's orchestration for Balanchine's ballet was never better celebrated. Mr. Veyette is another soloist poised for success, as he has perfected his balance and partnering in a notable way. The Fifth Campaign, called "Stars and Stripes", brought out the entire cast, and it was a dynamic finish to a dazzling evening, all-Balanchine. Kudos to David Briskin, tonight's Maestro. It's impressive to see City Ballet Orchestra stay through the curtain calls for a final bow.
Abi Stafford and Nikolaj Hübbe in NYCB's Square Dance

Abi Stafford and Nikolaj Hübbe in NYCB's Square Dance

Photo © & courtesy of Paul Kolnik


Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette in NYCB's Stars and Stripes

Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette in NYCB's Stars and Stripes

Photo © & courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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