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New York City Ballet: Donizetti Variations, Two Birds with the Wings of One, An American in Paris

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 2, 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: Donizetti Variations, Two Birds with the Wings of One, An American in Paris

New York City Ballet

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children's Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Andrea Quinn
Managing Director, Marketing and Communications, Robert Daniels
Associate Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns
Press Coordinator, Joe Guttridge

New York State Theater, Lincoln Center
(See Other NYC Ballet Reviews)

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 2, 2006

The Diamond Project: The Diamond Project is the sixth such festival of new works, with seven choreographers, from unique international backgrounds, presenting new ballets. Tonight's program features a new work by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Artistic Director of the North Carolina Dance Theatre.

Donizetti Variations (1960): (See June 1, 2006 Review). Music by Gaetano Donizetti (from Don Sebastian), Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor Emil de Cou, Performed by Megan Fairchild, Joaquin De Luz, and the Company. Donizetti composed over 65 operas, plus chamber music, for some of the greatest singers of his time. Balanchine created this ballet for a "Salute to Italy". (NYCB Notes)

Seeing this scintillating ballet two nights in a row was a delight, as the second viewing allowed me to focus on Balanchine's concepts to the orchestral score. The operatic music, including brass solos, amidst clearly defined orchestral cues for entrances and exits, sparkled with Joaquin De Luz' and Megan Fairchild's combinations and solo dances. Emil De Cou, as guest Conductor, mastered the momentum. Also remarkable was Balanchine's sense of symmetry, with ensembles of three, separating and mixing in a display of Karinska's pastel finery.

Two Birds with the Wings of One (2006): Music by Bright Sheng (Two Poems from the Sung Dynasty and "Chi Lin's Dance" from Flute Moon), Choreography by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor: Bright Sheng, Soprano: Lauren Flanagan, Performed by Sofiane Sylve, Andrew Veyette, and the Company. Bright Sheng is the new Composer in Residence. Bright Sheng is a composer, conductor, artistic advisor, concert pianist, and advisor to Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project. (NYCB Notes). (See an Interview with Bright Sheng).

Bright Sheng, an accomplished composer and conductor, led the City Ballet orchestra in two of his renowned works, one of which served as the score in a San Francisco Ballet performance in New York a few years ago (Chi Lin's Dance). The other work (Two Poems from the Sung Dynasty), was even more dissonant and sharp, and Lauren Flanigan was the stunning soprano in this piece. Eerie violins, powerful percussion, and wood blocks marked the music, and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux created a surreal mix of flying and gazing and kneeling in Holly Hynes' colorful, Chinese inspired costumes.

One memorable moment occurred in the choreography, in which Andrew Veyette was carried like an airplane down to Sofiane Sylve's space. Ms. Sylve was remarkably poignant, poised, and possessed in these poems of internalized passion - "We told each other secretly in the quiet midnight world, That we wished to fly in heaven, Two birds with the wings of one…" Mr. Veyette was other worldly and carried the mood magnificently. The male ensemble included Craig Hall and Daniel Ulbricht in driven dimension, and Kaitlyn Gilliland and Rebecca Krohn with noteworthy, nuanced affect.

An American in Paris (2005): (See May 4, 2005 Review). Music by George Gershwin, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Scenery by Adrianne Lobel, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Natasha Katz, performed by Jenifer Ringer, Damian Woetzel, Ellen Bar, and the Company.

Emil de Cou returned to the podium for this Gershwin score, and it was rapturous. Damian Woetzel and Jenifer Ringer are always a seasoned duo, equal in muscular energy and engaging theatrics. Ms. Ringer's charisma shines through the scrim, and when they meet and part and gaze upon each other the one last time, you just want to see this ballet again. Wheeldon's dynamic choreography, with Mr. Woetzel in his usual lightning spins, and Ms. Ringer in her bravura dance, as well, has a very Parisian "gaietée". Ellen Bar is creating her own dramatic style, and the corps and soloists, notably Amar Ramasar and Vincent Paradiso, were stylized and engaging in this very French motif.

Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz in Donizetti Variations
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Sofiane Sylve and Andrew Veyette in Two Birds with the Wings of One
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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