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New York City Ballet - Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine 100
Hosted by Sarah Jessica Parker and Kevin Kline
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
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center
(See Other NYC Ballet Reviews)
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 5, 2004
Film Segments (Archive): (The Film Society of Lincoln Center and The New York Public library for the Performing Arts) Introduced by Susan Stroman (Lincoln Center Theater). The film clips of Balanchine and Stravinsky in collaboration, of Balanchine in rehearsal, of Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein being interviewed at the opening of NY State Theater, and of Balanchine eating dinner were all endearing and extremely well chosen. Many allusions to cooking as a metaphor for the cultural kitchen that nourishes the crafts of dance and music were heard in the conversational clips. There were also still photos of Balanchine and exquisite silhouettes of his commanding figure. Susan Stroman on film was an excellent enhancement to these archival films.
Fanfare for a New Theater (1964): Music by Igor Stravinsky, 1st Trumpet: Ray Mase, NYCB Orchestra, 2nd Trumpet: Neil Balm, NYCB Orchestra, Composed for the opening of the New York State Theater, April 23, 1964. This Fanfare was quite dramatic and emotional.
None But the Lonely Heart: Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Arranged by Doug Riley, Conductor: Roberto Minczuk (NY Philharmonic), Cello: Carter Brey (NY Philharmonic), Sung by Placido Domingo (The Metropolitan Opera). What a treat for Balletomanes to hear Domingo!
Harlequinade (excerpt): Music by Riccardo Drigo, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Richard Moredock (NYCB), Performed by School of American Ballet (SAB). In masks, white, black, and multi-colored harlequin costumes, the SAB students were precise, adorable, and at times reminiscent of Picasso's Harlequin paintings. Balanchine's choreography was structured and upbeat, as Polichinelles, Harlequins, Pierrots, Pierrettes, and Scaramouches romped and spun in lovely patterns with confidence and charm.
Duo Concertant (excerpt): Music by Igor Stravinsky (Same as Pascal Rioult's Black Diamond), Choreography by George Balanchine, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violinist: Cho-Liang Lin (Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center), Pianist: Cameron Grant (NYCB), Performed by Yvonne Borree and Peter Boal. In an informal quartet of dancers and musicians, Mr. Boal and Ms. Borree intermittently danced, listened to the violin or piano, and even turned the sheets of piano music between dances.
This work revealed another side of Balanchine - his eclectic approach to a mix of genres, chamber music and dance, with their inter-relationships and possibilities. In fact, the film clips of Balanchine and Stravinsky were illustrative of this casual collaboration of choreographer and composer. Mr. Boal and Ms. Borree danced with eloquence and presence, with visible chemistry and an obvious delight in being joined onstage by these illustrious musicians. Mr. Lin and Mr. Grant were exceptional in their interpretation of Stravinsky's music.
Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (Fourth Movement, Rondo alla Zingarese): (See April 28, 2004 Review). Music by Johannes Brahms, Orchestrated by Arnold Schoenberg, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrea Quinn (NYCB), Performed by Wendy Whelan, Damian Woetzel, and the Company. This movement is the most dynamic, and Mr. Woetzel was, as usual, vibrant and magnetic, a tornado in leotards. His partnership with Ms. Whelan was well matched for technique and power, but the electricity that was apparent in last week's performance with Ms. Ansanelli was not evident tonight, as Ms. Whelan is a more refined and internalized dancer. Kudos to Karinska for the gray/red/black ribbon-bedecked costumes.
Liebeslieder Walzer (excerpt): Music by Johannes Brahms (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 (NYCB), Singers: Nancy Allen Lundy, Bruce Sledge, Jennifer Roderer, and Jan Opalach (NYC Opera), Performed by Darci Kistler, Kyra Nichols, Jenifer Ringer, Miranda Weese, Jared Angle, Nikolaj Hübbe, Philip Neal, and Jock Soto. With opera divas onstage in ballroom gowns and tuxedos, as ballet divas waltzed among them, we were presented with yet another of Mr. Balanchine's mixed genres. It was good to see Ms. Nichols, and she was elegant and glowing in her interpretation of this Balanchine/Brahms confection. Mr. Hübbe performed leaps with extensions of marvelous magnitude. The sensational Mr. Soto carried this music with aplomb, and Ms. Kistler, Ms. Ringer, and Ms. Weese danced with classical characterization. Karinska's costumes were brilliant, with large bouffant dresses, adorned with lace and ribbons.
Concerto Barocco (Second Movement): (See February 19, 2003 Review). Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Hugo Fiorato (NYCB), 1st Violin: Gil Shaham (Juilliard), 2nd Violin: Adele Anthony (Juilliard), Performed by Maria Kowroski, Rachel Rutherford, James Fayette, and the Company, including Saskia Beskow, Danskin Spokesperson. Mr. Fayette exudes charisma and is one of the most focused and attentive partners in the Company. This stark work in black and white leotards and tights is quite interesting for its choreography that winds walking and running dancers into and through each other's arms in varied, visual patterns.
The Man I Love (From "Who Cares?"): (See June 15, 2003 Review). Music by George Gershwin, Adapted and Orchestrated by Hershy Kay, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow (NYCB), Trumpet: Wynton Marsalis (Jazz at Lincoln Center), Performed by Alexandra Ansanelli and Nilas Martins. This compelling duo danced intermittently with the orchestra and with Mr. Marsalis' virtuosic trumpet solos. Mr. Marsalis seemed a bit in awe onstage with such charismatic and sensual dancers as Mr. Martins and Ms. Ansanelli. He barely watched the dancers, as he took his cues from the Conductor, and then brilliantly riffed with this Gershwin standard.
Ms. Ansanelli was extremely well suited to this seductive and sassy work, as she wound her way along Mr. Martins' neck and back, with her long, brown hair following her fully curved form, as she leaned backwards or sideward in split timing. Mr. Martins is one of the more magnetic Principals, and this slow, evocative work gave him room for creativity. Mr. Martins delights in pleasing his audience.
Vienna Waltzes (Der Rosenkavalier): (See February 20, 2003 Review). Music by Richard Strauss, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Roberto Minczuk (NY Philharmonic), Performed by Kyra Nichols, Charles Askegard, Rachel Rutherford, Albert Evans, Abi Stafford, Benjamin Millepied, Amanda Edge, Tom Gold, Jennifer Tinsley, Arch Higgins, and the Company. This is the movement that includes the black and white formal costumes, as multiplied in the rear mirrors and luscious lighting. With hanging chandeliers and spinning ballroom/ballet dancers, an ensemble of NYC Ballet's virtuosic Principals and Soloists transported the audience to an Austrian Gala, similar to the gala they were about to enter at the culmination of tonight's performance, the celebration of George Balanchine's 100th birthday.
Peter Martins, Ballet Master in Chief, and Sarah Jessica Parker led the audience in a Russian vodka toast to Mr. Balanchine on this Centennial Birthday tribute. Happy Birthday, Mr. Balanchine, and thank you for your Repertoire of quintessential ballets.