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New York City Ballet: Ballo della Regina, Stabat Mater, Cortège Hongrois

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 5, 2005
Lincoln Center
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New York City Ballet: Ballo della Regina, Stabat Mater, Cortège Hongrois

New York City Ballet
George Balanchine's
(NYC Ballet Website)

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
January 5, 2005

Ballo della Regina (1978): Music by Giuseppe Verdi, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Ben Benson, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Benjamin Millepied, Amanda Edge, Sterling Hyltin, Carrie Lee Riggins, Ana Sophia Scheller, and the Company. Verdi's score was original ballet music for Don Carlos, but cut from the opera. It's a series of variations. (Program Notes).

This highly structured work, classical and elegant to observe, is designed to showcase individual and partnered technique and virtuosity. Lighting and costumes in pastels of teal blue, pink, and white, create an effervescent and ethereal ambiance. Ashley Bouder, always spirited, always in perfect time and attitude, was an excellent choice to lead this lyrical and sometimes rambunctious series of choreographed variations. Benjamin Millepied was quite balanced and poised, as he partnered Ms. Bouder with attention and strength, in between solo lightning leaps.

Amanda Edge seemed most confident and coy in her ensemble dances and is again this year a dancer to watch. Her dark features and charismatic charm serve her well. I did not find this piece as stylistically striking as one might expect from a Verdi score and would be interested to see it once again.

Stabat Mater (1998): (See April 30, 2004 Review). Music by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Choreography by Peter Martins, Scenery and Costumes by Alain Vaes, Costumes executed by Barbara Matera, Ltd., Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrea Quinn, Soprano: Amy Burton, Countertenor: David Walker, Performed by Jenifer Ringer (Danskin Spokesperson), Peter Boal, Rachel Rutherford, Jared Angle, Miranda Weese, and Nilas Martins. The Latin hymn, Stabat Mater (the mother was standing) was created in the 13th Century to tell the story of the Virgin Mary at the cross. This hymn inspired composers to create choral works. This ballet is not about religion, but about images of a journey from sorrow to comfort. Pergolesi wrote Stabat Mater just before his death at age 26. (Program Notes).

The deep, dark score, sung mystically and magnificently by Soprano, Amy Burton, and Countertenor, David Walker, is the backdrop, along with iconic columns and classical set pieces, for a slow-moving and hypnotic dance, with Principals, Jenifer Ringer, partnered by Peter Boal, Rachel Rutherford, partnered by Jared Angle, and Miranda Weese, partnered by Nilas Martins. Dancers walk on and off the sets, solo or in hand with partners, in melancholy, introspective mood. Andrea Quinn conducted with precision, with a complicated set of visual, auditory, and orchestral performers at once, and every note signified the next step or the next shift of partners against or below scenery. Mark Stanley's lighting is central to this surreal vision.

Notable in this dance-frieze motif were Jenifer Ringer, who exudes passion from within, Nilas Martins, a magnificent and magnetic presence, Peter Boal, who never ceases to amaze in form and control, and the rapturous Rachel Rutherford, who seems at times to emulate the virtuosic Darci Kistler, not dancing tonight. Ms. Rutherford's porcelain figure and feathery lightness are more apparent each season.

Cortège Hongrois (1973): (See January 19, 2003 Raymonda Variations Review). Music by Alexander Glazounov (from Raymonda), Choreography by George Balanchine, Décor and Costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Performed by Sofiane Sylve, Charles Askegard, Jenifer Ringer (Danskin Spokesperson), James Fayette, and the Company. The ballet title derives from "corteggio", or Italian divertissements, with a Hungarian enhancement. There are references to Glazounov's score for Petipa's full-length Raymonda and also for Balanchine's Raymonda Variations. (Program Notes).

Maurice Kaplow once again led the orchestra in this interesting work, with two distinct ensembles, one in formal white Hungarian costumes, capped with green, and one in white/green tutus and scintillating ornaments. Jenifer Ringer was aglitter as the lead Czarda dancer, partnered by the very dynamic and driven James Fayette. Ms. Ringer seemed more occupied in dance than Mr. Fayette, and I longed for more male choreography, as Mr. Fayette has mesmerizing stage presence and partnering poise. Sofiane Sylve, in Pas de Deux with Charles Askegard, was effervescent. Yet, she did not seem to emotionally connect with her audience as she has done in the past. Mr. Askegard was in excellent form, with multiple spins in bravura balance.

The Company, in each unique ensemble, was buoyant and beautiful. Rouben Ter-Arutunian's costumes were characteristically embroidered, with gold, glitter, ribbons, and bows. "Corteggio" means courtly parade, and these two energetic ensembles received audience accolades for this powerful performance.

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