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New York City Ballet

by Mila Gorokhovich
January 11, 2003
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023
212.875.5456

New York City Ballet

www.nycballet.org

By Mila Gorokhovich
Saturday, January 11, 2002 at New York State Theater

New York City Ballet, quoted by many as one of the finest dance companies in the world, continues to reveal its Balanchinesque grace through sharp, forte contemporary movements. It is one of the few ballet companies in the world to have principal dancers who have been in the company since Mr. Balanchine's direction and are currently in their thirties. Over the recent decades, Balanchine's influence has expanded to dozens of ballet schools and companies throughout the world. His name has become a legend and his choreography, as well as dance technique, has become his legacy.

Yet, the Raymonda Variations that opened up this evening's performance prove that perhaps traditionally classical dances such as this one should have been left untouched. An ostentatiously flowery corps de ballet commenced the dance to Alexander Glazounov's beautiful and merry waltz. As they danced into a medley of symmetrical patterns with somewhat superficial waves of the arms, the corps often appeared to lack concrete togetherness. When a multi-individual corps is the embodiment of one dominant and apparent figure in the dance, the collectivity of the dancers is vital to the clarity and presentation of the dance itself. It was a pleasant relief to see principal Jenifer Ringer take the stage as Raymonda, the Hungarian princess who is to be married to Jean de Brienne, a noble knight who has just returned from the Crusades (performed by Philip Neal). Her ala seconde positions were breathtaking and the fluidity of her movements was a marvelous sight. Philip Neal, on the other hand, seemed to lack lightness in his dancing. His jumps were heavyset and stiff even though the clarity of his technique was satisfactory. The nine variations that followed the corps de ballet and a pas de duex revealed several talented City Ballet soloists and corps members, but the choreography did not coordinate with the music and many turns, releves and jumps appeared out of place. Many of the dancers were void of facial expression and energy that, in such a classical piece, is crucial for the liveliness and vibrancy of the dancing. It is understandable when dancers have blank expressions in the subsequent contemporary pieces, but in Raymonda, they are detrimental to the appearance of the dance. As each ballerina executed numerous challenging steps, it often seemed that that was all she was doing. The ballerinas were characters who danced for a bride at a glorious wedding and not for the mirror in a ballet studio. The variations concluded with an improved collectivity of the corps, although it was obvious that this dance was not the company's forte. Neal concluded with clear and flawless multiple ala seconde turns while Ringer shone throughout her solos.

Vespro, recently choreographed by Mauro Bigonzetti, was the second dance in the performance. Bruno Moretti's music, which was commissioned for NYCB, was a unique combination of a soprano saxophone (played by Albert Regni), a countertenor (Steven Rickards) and the piano, played by Moretti himself. All three musicians performed on stage as part of the dance. There was no evidence of a plot, but there were certain patterns that the thirteen dancers seemed to follow. Benjamin Millepied, the main dancer who initiated the piece with a solo on a platform that was right on top of the grand piano, was fiery and accurate in his movements. He was the ringleader and this was apparent as his solos were interwoven throughout the dance while his body glowed with energy and strength. Two couples followed after Millepied: Maria Kowroski and Jason Fowler as well as Alexandra Ansanelli and Sebastien Marcovici. The talent of all four dancers shone in the quick modern movements. Kowroski's and Ansanelli's extensions were vivid and beautiful, as they moved through the dance in and out of lifts, floor rolls and jumps. The choreography complimented Ansanelli's flawless ability. Her impressive lines and the clarity as well as volatility of her dancing reveals that she is truly a young gem of the company. Frankly, the music was abstract - much like the dance itself - but if it were not for the dance, it would have been a tedious, awkward sounding melody. The dance was necessary to complement the music.


Ballet: Vespro
Choreography: Mauro Bigonzetti
Dancers: Maria Kowroski, Jason Fowler, Alexandra Ansanelli and Sébastien Marcovici
Photo by Paul Kolnik


Ballet: Vespro
Choreography: Mauro Bigonzetti
Benjamin Millepied on piano, and company
Photo by Paul Kolnik

The evening concluded with Martins' Symphonic Dances to the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff. This piece exposed Martins' ability to maintain some of Balanchine's essence in the newer works that the company performs. It was delightful to see the radiant Yvonne Borree in the lead role. She was very musical in her movements as she came on and off the stage. She is petite, but the grace of her arms and her expression gave her grandeur. The plot of this piece was not very obvious, but it seemed that Borree was a young lady among two different groups of peasants and Robert Tewsley was her beau. The choreography was very well done to the music and the corps did a much better job at keeping together. Throughout the piece, it seemed as if they constantly looked for each other among the peasants, but were always pulled apart. Their concluding pas de duex was simple, although it revealed an essence of love and joy as they finally got together. The piece finished with symmetrical patterns as all the peasant couples came out in festive celebration. The dancers took turns diagonally crossing the stage with a variety of jumps, turns and small solos. Each dancer was given the opportunity in the spotlight, showing his/her individual specialties. The piece culminated with all the dancers on the stage in a grand and merry finale.


Ballet: Symphonic Dances
Choreography: Peter Martins
Dancers: Yvonne Borree
Photo by Paul Kolnik


Ballet: Symphonic Dances
Choreography: Peter Martins
Dancers: Yvonne Borree & Nikolaj Hübbe
Photo by Paul Kolnik

This evening was a medley of the different kinds of choreography and styles of dancing that New York City Ballet has been undertaking as challenges and experiments. Raymonda Variations exemplifies Balanchine's unsuccessful attempt at more classical choreography, Vespro shows the new contemporary twenty-first century work that the company is adopting and Symphonic Dances epitomizes Balanchine's spirit in the current work created by his protégés. Symphonic Dances was ultimately the high point of the evening - a fine combination of music, dance and talented dancers.

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