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New York City Ballet: Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fée, Concertino, After the Rain, Stravinsky Violin Concerto

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 2, 2005
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
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New York City Ballet: Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fée, Concertino, After the Rain, Stravinsky Violin Concerto

New York City Ballet

(NYC Ballet Website)
(See Other NYC Ballet Reviews)

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, Andrea Quinn
Marketing, Managing Director, Rob Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns

New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 2, 2005


Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fée (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: Colin Metters, Performed by Megan Fairchild, Joaquin De Luz, Dena Abergel, Amanda Edge, and the Company. Stravinsky's theme for this ballet was "The Ice Maiden", and the music is a tribute to Tschaikovsky. The original ballet was choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska. (NYCB Notes)

With a very melodic and uncharacteristic score by Stravinsky, the four lead dancers visually excerpted a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, The Ice Maiden. Joaquin De Luz is fast becoming one of the more exciting male premier danseurs in the ballet community, and his energy and magnetism were unleashed, as he dove into this rare revival like a wild sprite, a diminutive but daring and dramatic one at that. He propelled himself into extraordinary feats, with buoyancy and bravado. His equally diminutive lead partner, Megan Fairchild, also rapidly rises in skill and popularity each season, and tonight she too became a wild sprite, delicate but driven, wispy but wily. She seemed not to touch the stage, as if she were in flight, a fairy on wings.

Amanda Edge and Dena Abergel executed some fine footwork with corps and ensemble, and the corps shifted from structured to surreal settings with effortless elegance. This Stravinsky score should be heard more often.

Concertino (1982): Music by Igor Stravinsky (Concertino for Twelve Instruments and Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo), Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Clarinet Soloist: Gerhardt Koch, Performed by Stephen Hanna, Sofiane Sylve, and Ask la Cour. Concertino was originally choreographed as part of a longer work by Jerome Robbins for the 1982 Stravinsky Centennial celebration. (NYCB Notes).

The audience seemed nervously amused at this somewhat slapstick, and lesser known work by Jerome Robbins. If it were not for the talent of this trio of lead dancers, with Sofiane Sylve in a stark, gray mode, this piece could be dismissed as extraneous to the City Ballet repertoire. Gerhardt Koch almost saved the moment with his superb clarinet solos, but then the hand-arm waving began, in a strange choreographic device that turned Stravinsky stark to calamitous camp. Ask la Cour is one of the most fascinating male dancers, with a long, muscular line and intense gaze, and the sight of him waving about was distracting and annoying. Stephen Hanna seemed non-descript and eager to find the meaning in his dance. Now I understand why I had not previously seen this elusive and thankfully brief ballet.

After the Rain (2005): (See January 30, 2005 Review). Music by Arvo Pärt (Tabula Rasa (1977), for two violins, string orchestra, and prepared piano, and Spiegel im Spiegel (1978), for violin and piano), Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrea Quinn, Violins: Arturo Delmoni, Kurt Nikkanen, Nicolas Danielson, Pianos: Alan Moverman and Richard Moredock, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Jock Soto, Sofiane Sylve, Amar Ramasar, Maria Kowroski, and Ask la Cour. Christopher Wheeldon is a former NYC Ballet soloist and is NYC Ballet's first Resident Choreographer. "After the Rain" is Mr. Wheeldon's eleventh ballet created for NYC Ballet. (Program Notes).

See previous reviews, linked above, for a description of this elegant and heart-rending ballet, which features the soon to be retired Jock Soto and his impassioned partner, Wendy Whelan. What was most remarkable tonight was the thickness of the silence, during the second half of this pathos-infused, partnered event. Wheeldon was brilliant in his conception; however, what happens after June 19, when Mr. Soto departs the Company? I would assume that Mr. Soto would return (similar to the arrangement with Mr. Tewsley and his role in Musagète) to perform with Ms. Whelan in future seasons, as this is their ballet, and theirs alone. This dance created one of the never to be forgotten moments in ballet history.

Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972): (See January 12, 2005 Review). Music by Igor Stravinsky (Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major), Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Solo Violinist: Arturo Delmoni, Performed by Alexandra Ansanelli, Nikolaj Hübbe, Wendy Whelan, Jock Soto, and the Company. This music premiered in 1931, Stravinsky conducting and Samuel Dushkin as solo violinist. In 1941, Balanchine used this music for dance for the original Ballets Russes, under the title, Balustrade. (NYCB Notes).

Just as we were in an anxiety attack at the breathtaking conclusion of Mr. Soto and Ms. Whelan's partnered dance, they re-appeared onstage in similar, but more upbeat choreography in their starker, but equally magnetizing, Stravinsky pas de deux, with curling, crawling contortions, delicate arm-hand-shoulder twists, locked limbs, and fixed gazes. The arm-hand-shoulder waving in the Robbins work may have been mocking this very choreography, which is supremely surreal and exquisitely elegenat.

Alexandra Ansanelli and Nikolaj Hübbe added texture and interest in their own, partnered passages, with Balanchine's signature edgy choreographic elements, reserved just for Stravinsky collaborations. The Company was well connected and in attitude, with minimal costuming and ornamentation of movement.

Kudos to the three Conductors.

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