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New York City Ballet - Swan Lake

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 28, 2004
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023
212.875.5456

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About the Author:

New York City Ballet - Swan Lake

(www.nycb.org)

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
Manager, Press Relations, Siobhan Burns

Conductor, Maurice Kaplow

New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

(See Other NYC Ballet Reviews)

Roberta Zlokower
January 28, 2004

Swan Lake (1999): (See May 11, 2003 Review) Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by Peter Martins after Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, and George Balanchine, Scenery and Costumes by Per Kirkeby, Costumes realized by Barbara Matera, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Maria Kowroski as Odette/Odile, Charles Askegard as Prince Siegfried, James Fayette as Von Rotbart, Dena Abergel as The Queen, Adam Hendrickson as Jester, Stephen Hanna as Benno, Megan Fairchild, Lindy Mandradjieff, and Stephen Hanna in Pas de Trois, Jenifer Ringer, Jennifer Tinsley, Pascale van Kipnis, and Philip Neal in Divertissement: Pas de Quatre, Rachel Rutherford and Ask la Cour leading Hungarian Dance, Yvonne Borree and Albert Evans in Russian Dance, Saskia Beskow (Danskin Spokesperson, See Interview), Gwyneth Muller, Henry Seth, and Jonathan Stafford in Spanish Dance, Amanda Edge and Tom Gold leading Neapolitan Dance, Students from School of American Ballet (See SAB Tour), and the Company.

With a bevy of totally adorable youngsters from School of American Ballet, who royally help entertain Prince Siegfried at his 21st birthday party, NYC Ballet Company performed the Swan Lake ritual with aplomb tonight. Maria Kowroski has the undulating arms of Odette/Odile and the theatrical passion to switch personalities from demure, vulnerable Odette, in the White Swan Pas de Deux, to the seductive, wily Odile, in the Black Swan Pas de Deux. Ms. Kowroski and Charles Askegard, as Siegfried, were well suited to these extremely demanding roles, which require enormous time and energy, onstage, throughout the two acts and four scenes.

Speaking of scenes, Per Kirkeby and Kirsten Lund Nielsen have designed scenery and costumes of surreal proportions that contrast so remarkably to the romantic themes of Tschaikovsky's score. It is as if the electrifying intensity of Siegfried and Odile's second act Pas de Deux has been extrapolated for intense visual imagery in black, brown, and brilliantly painted backdrops and textured costumes. Scenes shift from Royal interiors to lakeside woodland, with the rising and rolling wooden and fabricated sets that slowly merge, rather than contrast and change. Kudos in advance to Per Kirkeby, Kirsten Lund Nielsen, and Barbara Matera.

Adam Hendrickson is fast emerging as a very exciting and engaging performer, here as the Jester, as he leaps mid-air in aerobic elevation. His glance and gaze alone can mesmerize the audience, as he fixes an emotion onstage and then develops it through daredevil dance. The Divertissement: Pas de Quatre, with Philip Neal partnering Jenifer Ringer, Jennifer Tinsley, and Pascale van Kipnis, was superb, and Mr. Neal is most adept at these upbeat, less dramatic roles. He seemed more poised and balanced than last season. Stephen Hanna as Benno is technically skilled but seemed a bit tall at times for the multiple spins required in his choreography. However, in the Pas de Trois, Mr. Hanna was buoyant and effective with his attentive partnering of Lindy Mandradjieff and Megan Fairchild.

Interwoven in this somewhat streamlined version of Swan Lake (compared to more traditional and lengthier interpretations) was some of the most evocative instrumentation I have heard, thanks to the NYC Ballet Orchestra, Maurice Kaplow, and the solo violinist and harpist (I assume Concertmaster and Principal Harp, as I could not see into the pit from my orchestra seat). As luck was with me, I was seated near the orchestra front at the NY State Theater tonight, and the acoustics of this wonderful Hall surrounded and wrapped me with the most beautiful of Tschaikovsky's scores, and the performers developed the visual imagery that compliments this auditory delight.

The SAB students as Swans, Courtiers, Small Jesters, Village Children, and two Pages were also delightful and captured the audience's attention and imagination with their appropriate stage presence and perfectly timed and staged performances. All the soloists in the varied ethnic entertainment - Hungarian, Russian, Spanish, and Neapolitan - were dramatically characteristic of the respective dance and enormously energetic. James Fayette as Von Rotbart has created the most brilliant theatricality I have seen on a ballet stage in some time. His facial expressions alone were thoroughly magnetic and mirrored the thematic mood of the moment. During Ms. Kowroski and Mr. Askegard's Black Swan Pas de Deux, Mr. Fayette, in blazing black and orange, heated the stage with ferocious trickery. Kudos to Peter Martins for an energetic and expressionistic Swan Lake.

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