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New York City Ballet Spring Gala 2005

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 4, 2005
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023
212.875.5456

About the Author:

New York City Ballet Spring Gala 2005

New York City Ballet

(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
May 4, 2005

Conductor: Andrea Quinn

Tala Gaisma (World Premiere): Music by P?teris Vasks, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Catherine Barinas, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violin Solo: Kurt Nikkanen, Performed by Darci Kistler, Sofiane Sylve, Miranda Weese, Jared Angle. Peter Martins' complex and esoteric world premiere introduced the Spring Gala 2005, with an eery and edgy score by Peteris Vasks, a Latvian composer. The costumes of the three women were pastel body stockings, outlined in red, perhaps symbolic of their boiling blood at the serendipitous competition they suddenly face for the attention of the lone male, here Jared Angle (substituting for the injured Jock Soto). Without sets or backdrop (curtains all around), Kurt Nikkanen's solo violin takes center stage significance as another character or dancer, the muse of the onstage drama.

This very psychologically based choreography would have been better served with the virtuosic Jock Soto as the sole male dancer. Jared Angle has skills, but not presence, although each year he seems to exude a bit more charisma. Jock Soto would have riveted these women into a psychic frenzy, à la Giselle's mad scene. The dissonant score, stark ambiance, angular and multi-level choreography, and contrasting moods fused to make Tala Gaisma a must-see-again work, perhaps with a recovered Jock Soto, who needs to dance for his audience, that is about to say goodbye on June 19.

The ballet later offers a much lower orchestral score, melodic and mournful. Eventually staccato dances erupt, as the fierce competition ensues. The spiritual quality of this piece has some emotional reference to Martins' Chichester Psalms. Darci Kistler, Miranda Weese, and Sofiane Sylve each affect a sudden mood swing, as the male chemistry pierces the women's comfort zone. I look forward to seeing this piece with Jock Soto. Jared Angle is a technically stylized dancer, but needs to grow into this role. Kudos to Peter Martins for daring to challenge the audience in this lengthy work and for daring to premiere five new works for his New York audience and Gala patrons.



Darci Kistler and Jared Angle in "Tala Gaisma"
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik


Broken Promise (World Premiere): Music by Mathew Fuerst (Clarinet Quintet), Choreography by Albert Evans, Costumes by Carole Divet, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violin: Arturo Delmoni, Clarinet: Gerhardt Koch, Cello: Fred Zlotkin, Piano: Cameron Grant, Performed by Ashley Bouder and Stephen Hanna.

This all too brief work, choreographed by principal Albert Evans to an onstage Clarinet Quintet, has muscularity, allows Ms. Bouder to showcase her unique ability to gaze onto her entire audience as one would gaze onto one sole partner. There is parallel motion of the partners in striking figures and more striking costuming. Ms. Bouder's threadbare white and silvered leotard allows her taut physique to illustrate the intention and interest of this stark Mathew Fuerst score.

Ashley Bouder and Stephen Hanna in "Broken Promise"
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik



Double Aria (NYC Ballet Premiere): Music by Daniel Ott, Choreography by Benjamin Millepied, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violinist: Timothy Fain, Performed by Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour.

With the very talented Timothy Fain onstage to perform Daniel Ott's Double Aria for Solo Violin, the tall and long-limbed partners, Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour (just today promoted to soloist), danced an abstract and very dissonant work previously presented in one of principal, Benjamin Millepied's renowned choreography workshops. The audience seemed to light up to this piece and was vocally enthused. Speaking of lighting up, Mark Stanley's variable lighting, such as chiaroscuro figures, fading partners, and momentary glare on the violinist, was creative and fresh, perhaps a quote from some of George Balanchine's sharp, contemporary works. Mr. la Cour and Ms. Kowroski executed some intense choreography, such as swinging of Ms. Kowroski in dimly lit surroundings. Holly Hynes' black costumes were quite effective.

Distant Cries (NYC Ballet Premiere): Music by Tomaso Albioni, Choreography by Edwaard Liang, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Oboe: Randall Wolfgang, Performed by Wendy Whelan and Peter Boal.

Edwaard Liang, a soloist in City Ballet, has designed a work somewhat evocative of Wheeldon's After the Rain, created for Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto, a foreboding piece prior to the imminent retirement of Mr. Soto. Distant Cries seems to evoke similar pathos, prior to the departure of Peter Boal who leaves City Ballet to direct Pacific Northwest Ballet in a few weeks. There was longing, angst, internalized solitude, and sensual togetherness, all in a short work with the first melodic score of the evening from Albioni. Edwaard Liang as a bright future in choreography.

An American in Paris (World Premiere): Music by George Gershwin, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Scenery by Adrianne Lobel, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Natasha Katz, performed by Damian Woetzel, Carla Körbes, Jenifer Ringer, and the Company.

I loved watching Gene Kelly dance, and I love watching Damian Woetzel dance. Mr. Woetzel has the confidence and presence that come with a long, rewarding career with a company that knows how to showcase his tremendous talent. Jenifer Ringer, his dream dancer, has now created a sense of coyness and charisma in all of her performances that send energy and electricity out to her audience at State Theater. Carla Körbes, promoted today with Mr. la Cour to soloist, a street dancer in black and red, had the most saucy and sassy brief dance that I've seen her perform in some time.

This adapted sequence from the film, same title, brings Christopher Wheeldon into the arena of brightly choreographed, light entertainment piece, one that will surely grace City Ballet repertoire for years to come. Most of the Company was now onstage for the first time in tonight's Gala. Adrianne Lobel's silky screens were very avant-garde Parisian. Holly Hynes' colorful costumes, wide-brimmed hats (even little Madelines, here and there), Bohemian underground and high fashion outfits, allowed Mr. Wheeldon's buoyant and dreamy dances to shine forth in a warm finale. Little flags and Parisian scenes set a stage of busy traffic, bicycles, and surreal romance (Ms. Ringer and Mr. Woetzel's fantasy dances, arms outstretched toward each other on opposite sides of the sheer abstract screen). Kudos to Christopher Wheeldon. I must run out and rent the film again.

City Ballet shone tonight in all five New York premieres, with different moods and different motifs. Kudos to Peter Martins for a splendid Spring Gala 2005.

Finale from "An American in Paris"
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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