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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
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New York City Ballet - Square Dance, Circle of Fifths, Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 31, 2003
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023

About the Author:

New York City Ballet - Square Dance, Circle of Fifths, Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2


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)

Review by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 31, 2003

Square Dance (1957): (See NYCB February 20, 2003 Review) Music by Arcangelo Corelli and Antonio Vivaldi, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Performed by Abi Stafford and Sébastien Marcovici and the Company. On this viewing, with Abi Stafford and Sébastien Marcovici in the lead, the audience was treated to pathos and chemistry, as I have not seen in previous performances of this work. They appeared to be enraptured with each other in an effective partnering that brought Square Dance to new dimensions. Mr. Marcovici is fast becoming one of the most alluring of the Premier Danseurs of the Company. This duo created an exciting lyricism in the last movement, which is highly structured in rhythmic motifs.

Square Dance
Dancer: Abi Stafford
Choreography by George Balanchine
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Circle of Fifths (1997): Music by Philip Glass, Choreography by Christopher D'Amboise, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrea Quinn, Solo Violinist: Jean Ingraham, Performed by Peter Boal, Wendy Whelan, Albert Evans, and the Company, including Saskia Beskow. Christopher D'Amboise was trained at the School of American Ballet (See SAB Visit) and spent ten years at NYC Ballet. He has choreographed more than 40 works. Philip Glass' Concerto for Violin and Orchestra was commissioned by the American Composers' Orchestra and premiered in 1987. It is organized in the traditional three-movement concerto structure. Since 1975, Glass has composed mostly for dance, film, or theater. (NYCB Notes).

I have always been a fan of Philip Glass' music, but have rarely heard it performed live for dance. What a trio, Ms. Whelan, Mr. Boal, and Mr. Evans make! They were constantly creating dissonant and repetitive visual patterns around each other, in horizontal and vertical fashion, all of which were sensual and totally appropriate to the music. Mr. D'Amboise and Holly Hynes have juxtaposed patterns of dance with patterns of blue in the stark leotards that blend with Mark Stanley's brilliant lighting. Mr. Boal and Mr. Evans danced in mirror images, and all three, with the assistance of the Company, used primitive and rippling imagery of arms and hands to showcase the surreal qualities of Glass' score. Ms. Whelan, as always, was exquisite in her long-limbed extensions and surrounding motions. As Mr. Glass builds volume and tempo, which then dissipate and become slow and soft, so too does Mr. D'Amboise slow the tempo and action onstage. Kudos to Conductor, Andrea Quinn, and Violinist, Jean Ingraham, for creating the dynamic and evocative music that drove this work.

Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 (1964): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by y George Balanchine, Costumes by Gary Lisz, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Piano: Susan Walters, Performed by Miranda Weese, Philip Neal, Ashley Bouder, and the Company. Balanchine first staged this Tschaikovsky Concerto for American Ballet Caravan in 1941, for a South American tour. Balanchine choreographed a new work in the style of Petipa, which was revived in 1964 for NYC Ballet with elaborate tutus and scenery and then again in 1973, with simplified chiffon costumes and no scenery. (NYCB Notes).

I have seen this ballet performed elsewhere in the original, more formal approach, with chandeliers and heavier costumes. Balanchine's 1973 choreography, with spare but sparkling costumes and bare stage and lighting, gave this work a new look, unencumbered but still glimmering. Miranda Weese was marvelous in form and virtuosity. She never faltered in this demanding role, with lifts and turns and rapid, repetitive footwork that amazed the audience. Ms. Bouder shows promise in future appearances, but as a Corps dancer, would be better suited to less demanding and showcased choreography. Mr. Neal still appears to lack the confidence and presence that such a role requires. Most NYC Ballet Premier Danseurs and Soloists have achieved that level of mastery in partnering and persona. Yet, Mr. Neal retains his skills and technical virtuosity that allow him to shine in more abstract or campy pieces.

This is a stately and romantic work, demanding of its soloists a rare combination of emotional and physical energy. I hope to see Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 performed again with Ms. Weese paired and partnered with different leads. The Company was outstanding. Kudos to Susan Walters on piano.

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