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Robert Abrams
New York City Ballet (NYCB)
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New York City Ballet - Divertimento No. 15, Klavier, Fearful Symmetries

by Robert Abrams
June 14, 2006
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023

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New York City Ballet
Divertimento No. 15 featured exquisite costumes and dancing. This was a ballet that moved from one photo pose to the next with slow graceful transitions. For instance, the final pose looked like a flower in bloom. At one point there was a line of five ballerinas extending their legs such that it felt like a crystal chandelier. The tutus were sparkling and so were their headdresses.

The men showed off very nice leaping flutter feet that made them look like hummingbirds. The pointe work was combined with elegant sway. The lifts were stable. There were smooth transitions from solo to ensemble sections.

Overall, this ballet was pretty and spritely, if perhaps a little too hypnotic. If you see this ballet after a long day at work, I recommend buying coffee and/or chocolate at the concession stand beforehand. NYCB's chocolate covered nuts are addictive.

There are a couple of variations I think it would be interesting for NYCB to try, using Divertimento No. 15 as a base. Divertimentos were originally written for 18th Century aristocratic parties, so I would like to see sections of Divertimento No. 15 alternated with social dance of the period. I think it might also work to try putting a few live musicians on the stage, rather than in the orchestra pit, to see how that affects the ballet. NYCB has several ballets that feature musicians on the stage that work well, and Divertimento No. 15 might be another one.

Klavier was dark, in contrast to Divertimento No. 15, which was light. Where Divertimento No. 15 was spritely, Klavier was somber, but still elegant with sway and arched backs. I thought the combination of these two programs was a good curatorial choice.

The partnering was dynamic. The dancers' rotating kicks and extended sweeps were so smooth they might as well have been swimming or skating. The dancers' arms were raised at the beginning and end with a slow walk, suggesting flight. I loved the energy of this work. I also liked the splash of subdued color in the women's costumes. The audience reaction was very enthusiastic.

Fearful Symmetries started out with a surge of energy as couples in turn swept across the stage. This pattern built to two couples at a time and then to four couples at a time. Finally, six women danced as one man leaped to hit the music. The dancers exuded so much confidence that they seemed to pause in mid-air. The couples danced with sharp partnering.

The music was like Swing music at times. The dancers marked the slows and quicks in the music. In this sense, their dancing was consistent with good social dancing. The dancers displayed great extension in their lifts.

In addition to the dancers' showing good rhythmic contrast from beat to beat, the ballet's choreography as a whole made good use of the contrast between slow and fast sections. In the slow sections, the dancers stretched through every note. Once, in such a slow section, a woman fell into her man's arms very slowly while the horns mewled like a plaintive cat. In a fast section, the horns sounded like a train and the dancers just kept coming. Speaking of dancers who keep coming, the men's leaps towards the end of the work were still high and sharp. If this were figure skating, they would get bonus points for successfully landing difficult jumps near the end of a routine.

All of the dancers were highly engaging, but I especially liked Carrie Lee Riggins' performance. She showed off intricate, fast footwork followed by elegant suspended poses. Sometimes you can see talent represented in the smallest of gestures. Ms. Riggins' emphatic flick of her wrist was one such moment.

The ballet ended in a tableau where four dancers reached up and down in a simple caress.

This ballet had choreography that was sometimes symmetrical, but there was nothing fearful about it. There is nothing in NYCB's supplemental program notes that justifies or explains the title. I think this ballet is misnamed. It should be called FEARLESS Symmetries. Other than the flaw in the title, I think this is a superb ballet. Fearless Symmetries (nee Fearful Symmetries) is a ballet I would put on a short list of dances to see more than once.

Divertimento No. 15

Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (K.287)
Choreography by George Balanchine
Costumes by Karinska
Lighting by Mark Stanley

Megan Fairchild, Sterling Hyltin, Tiler Peck, Rachel Rutherford, Ana Sophia Scheller, Jason Fowler, Jonathan Stafford, Andrew Veyette
Maya Collins, Sophie Flack, Amanda Hankes, Lauren King, Geneviève Labean, Ashley Laracey, Savannah Lowery, Gwyneth Muller

Theme and Variations
Theme - Jason Fowler, Jonathan Stafford
First Variation - Ana Sophia Scheller
Second Variation - Sterling Hyltin
Third Variation - Rachel Rutherford
Fourth Variation - Tiler Peck
Fifth Variation - Andrew Veyette
Sixth Variation - Megan Fairchild

Maya Collins, Sophie Flack, Amanda Hankes, Lauren King, Geneviève Labean, Ashley Laracey, Savannah Lowery, Gwyneth Muller

Megan Fairchild, Sterling Hyltin, Tiler Peck, Rachel Rutherford, Ana Sophia Scheller, Jason Fowler, Jonathan Stafford, Andrew Veyette



Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon
Design by Jean-Marc Puissant
Lighting by Penny Jacobs

Piano: Susan Walters

Dancers: Wendy Whelan and Sébastien Marcovici, Miranda Weese and Albert Evans, Abi Stafford, Melissa Barak, Tyler Angle, Craig Hall, Sean Suozzi, Andrew Veyette

Music: Adagio Sostenuto from the Hammerclavier Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, Op. 106.
Costumes supervised by Holly Hines

Fearful Symmetries

Music by John Adams
Choreography by Peter Martins
Costumes by Steven Rubin
Lighting by Mark Stanley

Dancers: Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard, Jennie Somogyi and Albert Evans, Carrie Lee Riggins and Antonio Carmena, Allen Peiffer, Adam Hendrickson, Troy Schumacher, Faye Arthurs, Melissa Barak, Rebecca Krohn, Savannah Lowery, Sean Suozzi, Tyler Angle, Craig Hall, Jonathan Stafford, Alina Dronova, Glenn Keenan, Lauren King, Geneviève Labean, Ashley Laracey, Ana Sophia Scheller
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