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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
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New York City Ballet: After the Rain, The Cage, Concertino, Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 24, 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: After the Rain, The Cage, Concertino, Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet

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, 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
February 24, 2006

After the Rain (2005): (See February 18, 2006 Review). Music by Arvo Pärt (Tabula Rasa (1977), for two violins, string orchestra, and prepared piano, and Spiegel im Spiegel (1978), for violin and piano), Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Violins: Kurt Nikkanen, Michael Roth, Jean Ingraham, Pianos: Alan Moverman and Cameron Grant, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Craig Hall, Sofiane Sylve, Amar Ramasar, Teresa Reichlen, and Jason Fowler. Christopher Wheeldon is a former NYC Ballet soloist and is NYC Ballet's first Resident Choreographer. "After the Rain" is Mr. Wheeldon's eleventh ballet created for NYC Ballet. (NYCB Notes).

A star was born tonight in Craig Hall's virtuosic performance as Wendy Whelan's new partner in the second part of After the Rain. This has been a season of debuts in New York City Ballet Repertoire, and tonight was Craig Hall's debut, notably in the slower, more sensual half of this tour de force ballet, brilliantly conceived by Christopher Wheeldon. Craig Hall exuded the chemistry and primal power that was inherent in Jock Soto's partnering, before he retired last June. This ballet was choreographed for Ms. Whelan and Mr. Soto, and a few daring male principals have attempted this role, in a most successful manner. Yet, it was Mr. Hall, who has generated here the most excitement. I almost always defer to the audience's reaction when gauging the success of a dance or a dancer. Tonight, the audience was silently breathless until the explosive and energetic applause at the curtain.

Mr. Hall's fingers and feet slid against those of Ms. Whelan in this rapturous and symbolic evocation of love and languor. Ms. Whelan seemed full of abandon and ardor in their first performance of this dance. Ms. Whelan and Mr. Hall moved as one, as if they had just discovered this possibility of aesthetic moment. Maurice Kaplow, who would conduct all four ballets tonight, outstandingly maintained the magic and momentum. Kurt Nikkanen, Michael Roth, and, especially, Jean Ingraham were as resonant and rich on violins as were all the balletic elements of this production. Alan Moverman and Cameron Grant, on prepared piano and pure piano, kept each note to the stormy or soft raindrop motif. Sofiane Sylve and Amar Ramasar have grown in the first part's stark role with exemplary presence, as have Teresa Reichlen and Jason Fowler.

Kudos to Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall.

The Cage (1951): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Ruth Sobotka, Décor by Jean Rosenthal, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Performed by Wendy Whelan as The Novice, Rebecca Krohn as The Queen, Sébastien Marcovici and Adam Hendrickson as The Intruders, and the Company as The Group. A ballet about the female species as predators and the male species as prey. Score is "Concerto in D for String Orchestra, "Basler" (1946). (NYCB Notes).

Fresh from her challenging performance in the previous work, Wendy Whelan danced the lead in Stravinsky's dark tale, The Cage, in which female predators stomp on the male, rape the male, kill the male, and then roll or pass the male to the female community to devour offstage. With a fascinating spidery set by Jean Rosenthal and detailed, black, fuzzy-lined unitards by Ruth Sobotka, this wild tale unfolded with mesmerizing momentum. On my first viewing of this stunning piece, it was good to know I'd see it once more the following night to absorb the design and dance details, as the music swirls quickly by.

Adam Hendrickson and Sébastien Marcovici were the Intruders (roll-over prey), and Mr. Marcovici, in his jungle-styled, strapped outfit and slicked back hair, danced with poignancy and pulsation. Ironically, Mr. Marcovici is one of Ms. Whelan's new partners in the sensual, quiet After the Rain, and this dance was a fine tribute to the theatrical and technical versatility of these two principals. Another star was born tonight in Rebecca Krohn's role as the driven, demonic Queen, wild-eyed with electrified hairdo. In fact, the wig and makeup designer (not mentioned specifically) of this work is to be highly commended. The Company as The Group (the ensemble of spidery, scary female predators) could not have been more quintessentially stylized in their avant-garde roles.

Kudos to Jerome Robbins for this outstanding and unique work.

Concertino (1982): (See June 2, 2005 Review). Music by Igor Stravinsky (Concertino for Twelve Instruments and Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo), Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Clarinet Soloist: Gerhardt Koch, Performed by Jason Fowler, Sofiane Sylve, and Amar Ramasar. Concertino was originally choreographed as part of a longer work by Jerome Robbins for the 1982 Stravinsky Centennial celebration. (NYCB Notes).

This contemporary, abstract Robbins work seems far less interesting or relevant in the repertoire than The Cage. Also set to a Stravinsky score, it is brief, with but three dancers and a smaller orchestral ensemble; the second part is danced to a clarinet solo, effectively played by Gerhardt Koch. The high point of this light, whimsical work is the strange sensation of swimming or floating toward the ending. Amar Ramasar is the third rising star of the evening, in this second appearance tonight, and he has gained a good deal of stage presence and technical timing in the abstract repertoire. Sofiane Sylve is always charismatic and intense, and Jason Fowler persuasively performed, as well.

Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet (1966): (See April 28, 2004 Review). 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: Maurice Kaplow, Performed by Jennie Somogyi, Philip Neal, Teresa Reichlen, Jenifer Ringer, Nilas Martins, Yvonne Borree, Nikolaj Hübbe, Sara Mearns, Charles Askegard, and the Company. This was Balanchine's first abstract work for New York State Theater. Schoenberg orchestrated Brahms' "Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor", and Balanchine used this work, as he did not like chamber music for ballet. (NYCB Notes).

In Karinska's dazzling regal costumes, each movement of Schoenberg's full orchestration of Brahms' Quartet plays out with a different cast and a different but similar theme. This is Balanchine at his finest, and appropriately diversified choreography completed tonight's program. Jennie Somogyi and Philip Neal led the movement powerfully and percussively. Jenifer Ringer and Nilas Martins were dazzling and delightful in the lyrical Intermezzo movement, while Yvonne Borree was partnered by an impassioned Nikolaj Hübbe, making a rare appearance this season, in the Andante. Tonight, the showcased movement was the finale, Rondo alla Zingarese, with one more rising star, Sara Mearns, who seems to generate a spotlight, whenever she appears. Charles Askegard seemed refreshingly buoyant, in her presence, and their pas de deux sparkled with pizzazz. The Company carried the thematic turns with ease, as did Karinska's costumes, slightly different with each movement motif. There were costume jewels and embroidery and ribbons.

For a new hand-made dance costume, you can contact Tutus Divine, in suburban Chicago, and they will design and deliver your dream for fit and fashion.

Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall in After the Rain
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Teresa Reichlen and Jason Fowler in After the Rain
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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