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Robert Abrams
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New York City Ballet - Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Reliquary, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Thou Swell

by Robert Abrams
June 21, 2003
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 - Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Reliquary, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, Thou Swell


Robert Abrams
June 21, 2003

Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet

Jennie Somogyi and James Fayette showed off partnering that had consistent confidence with a style that presaged the kind of partnering used in ballroom dance both in the character of the movement and the use of tails in the costume. The choreography in this section used a shifting series of balance points that was quite effective.

Wendy Whelan and Damian Woetzel danced with verve. Damian gives his movements character, such as when he slid out of a spin with a knowing glance rather than just ending the spin and going on to a separate step.

(Music by Johannes Brahms, First Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25, 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. Dancers: Allegro - Pascale van Kipnis, Philip Neal, Ellen Bar, Darius Crenshaw, Ask la Cour, Jonathan Stafford, Andrew Veyette, Aesha Ash, Melissa Barak, Mary Helen Bowers, Glenn Keenan, Rebecca Krohn, Savannah Lowery, Sarah Ricard, Jamie Wolf; Intermezzo - Jennie Somogyi, James Fayette, Dana Hanson, Deanna McBrearty, Eva Natanya; Andante - Alexsandra Ansanelli, Peter Boal, Amanda Edge, Carrie Lee Riggins, Elizabeth Walker, Katie Bergstrom, Ashley Bouder, Martine Ciccone, Alina Dronova, Lauren Fadeley, Megan Fairchild, Jessica Flynn, Sterling Hyltin, Ashley Laracey, Lindy Mandradjieff, Jamie Wolf, Stephanie Zungre; Rondo alla Zingarese - Wendy Whelan, Damian Woetzel, Sophie Flack, Dara Johnson, Ashlee Knapp, Rebecca Krohn, Savannah Lowery, Gwyneth Muller, Ellen Ostrom, Teresa Reichlen, Christopher Boehmer, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Craig Hall, Austin Laurent, Allen Peiffer, Amar Ramasar, Henry Seth, Christian Tworzyanski.)


This is a leotard ballet where the dancers looked like the hammers inside of a piano, both in repose and in action. Much of the music is strings, but so is much of a piano.

The dancers are dressed in black and the stage is lit with a white light. Suddenly, the stage turns into a negative of itself through the use of lighting and costumes. The costumes are now white, and the lighting is that murky greyish black often seen in photographic negatives of bright subjects.

At the very end, the dancers resembled musical notes on a page projected out in space from the hand written Stravinsky score projected on a screen behind them.

There was a great throw to catch and lift, as well as good use of the wingspan position.

(Music by Charles Wourinen, A Reliquary for Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by Peter Martins, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor Andrea Quinn, Dancers: Alexandra Ansanelli, Janie Taylor, Seth Orza, Sébastien Marcovici, Dana Hanson, Deanna McBrearty, Eva Natanya, Jason Fowler, Stephen Hanna, Jonathan Stafford, Antonio Carmena, Sean Suozzi, Andrew Veyette, Dena Abergel, Aesha Ash, Faye Arthurs, Saskia Beskow, Pauline Golbin, Rebecca Krohn, Ashley Laracey, Ashlee Knapp, Gwyneth Muller, Ellen Ostrom, Teresa Reichlen, Jamie Wolf.)

Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux

Jennie Somogyi demonstrated nice stillness. She and Charles Askegard danced with confident partnering. Their lifts and holds were well done. Twice, Jennie leaped into Charles' arms like an end zone dive in football, without the mud.

Charles danced with bouyant leaps in his solo, as well as a leap circle with fine directionality. Jennie danced with great footspeed in her solo.

(Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley.)

Thou Swell

This work is always danced with elegance one can only dream of. In some shows, the chorus covers costume changes. In this show, the chorus covers a shoe change, from impractical Blahniks to toe shoes.

Once again, James Fayette, this time dancing with Jenifer Ringer, was great at partnering. He really should consider competing in American Smooth.

Darci Kistler looked fully released in Jock Soto's arms.

This work has several sections of dance that are, or are very close to, real social dance. For instance, the principals danced a beautiful Viennese Waltz. It should be noted, though, that they were all dancing in the wrong direction. They were dancing clockwise. It is traditional to dance counter-clockwise.

All of the sections are beautifully danced with good energy, but for my tastes, the choreography is too ballet oriented and there are too many solos. The choreography misses an opportunity to express the beauty of partnership dance that emerges from having multiple couples on the floor at once. There is some of such group dance numbers, and they are well choreographed and well danced, but there just aren't enough of them. This is a work that leaves me hungry at the end. When I started dancing, if I didn't go out dancing at least two nights per week, my hands would shake, literally. I am left with a similar reaction after Thou Swell. It is like not dancing for a week, and then going to a club where they are playing what sounds like Hustle, only to find that everyone there only wants to bump and grind.

All of that being said, Thou Swell also raises the question of whether it would be possible to create a ballet club, where people would come to dance an improvisational partner ballet crossed with smooth dances. Suppose that you took the set for Thou Swell and filled it with enough ballet dancers to give the imagined club enough customers to make it economically viable, and then set them loose on the dance floor?

(Music by Richard Rodgers, Music arranged by Glen Kelly, Orchestrations by Don Sebesky, Choreography by Peter Martins, Scenery by Robin Wagner, Costumes by Julius Lumsden, Costumes supervised by Holly Hines, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Conductor Paul Gemignani, Guest Singers Debbie Gravitte and Jonathan Dokuchitz, Guest trio Nick Archer on piano, John Beal on bass, Paul Pizzuti on drums. Dancers: Darci Kistler and Jock Soto, Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard, Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette, Janie Taylor and Nilas Martins, Alina Dronova, Jessica Flynn, Glenn Keenan, Geneviève Labean, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Austin Laurent, Allen Peiffer, Christian Tworzyanski.)

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