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Richard Penberthy
New York City Ballet (NYCB)
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Lincoln Center
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Three by Bach at NYCB - Sweet

by Richard Penberthy
June 9, 2007
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
Saturday, June 9, 2007, 8:00 PM

Three by Bach: Concerto Barocco, Tribute, and Brandenburg

Guest conductor: Paul Hoskins
Bach's music inspires, or more accurately, demands that the dance be more ornament than drama. The music, lovely though it is, is also an unforgiving machine, a metronome, and with Bach's counterpoint and syncopation in the mix, there is simply no opportunity for dramatic choreography. Any one of these three ballets, included in a varied program, might have seemed refreshing – it might even be considered by some balletomanes to be refreshingly pure ballet.

Programming an evening of short ballets offers the opportunity to schedule a variety of experiences in a single night…the sequence might include something historical, something ornate, something evocative, something romantic, something daring, something ethereal and so forth. But these three ballets, each a fine work and each danced very well, together in a single program, were so relentlessly pretty, uncomfortably pretty, that at the end of the day – or the evening – it felt like a lacemakers holiday.

Concerto Barocco led off. This is a Balanchine all white ballet, and his front-of-the-beat and back-beat syncopation between the lines of eight corps women is cleverly done. Yvonne Borree and Abi Stafford shine as the point, counterpoint embodiment of the musical lines. Nikolaj Hubbe brought his wisdom to partnering them as a pair. There is also an echo of Apollo in positioning several women, each echoing the arch of the first, back of the lone danseur. The Double Violin Concerto in D Minor for two violins is enveloping and was lushly played by first violin Arturo Delmoni and second violin Kurt Nikkanen.

Christopher d'Amboise's Tribute was just premiered with NYCB in January 2007 (though it had an earlier premiere as a School of American Ballet production in 2005). It uses a sequence of nine excerpts from four Bach pieces, so it is free the from absolutes of a single composition – after all, Mr. d'Amboise was able to pick and choose the segments and order them for his dance. When I reviewed this piece in January, the cast was similar, and they are still outstanding.

Jerome Robbins's Brandenburg closed the evening. Megan Fairchild and Joaquin de Luz are lead dancers in Part A, Allegro, Adagio, and Allegro from Brandenburg Concerto 3. Jennie Somogyi and Jared Angle dance Part B, Andante from Brandenburg Concerto 2 (there are also Parts C and D). The ballet is costumed in pastel waistcoats and ersatz dirndls. No matter how fine the performances, the utter pastel-ness of this ballet summed up the evening - the accumulation of sweetness was overpowering.
'Tribute' featuring Devin Alberda. June 9, 2007 at the New York City Ballet.

"Tribute" featuring Devin Alberda. June 9, 2007 at the New York City Ballet.

Photo © & courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Dancers Ashley Bouder and Tyler Angle perform in 'Tribute' at the New York City Ballet. June 9, 2007.

Dancers Ashley Bouder and Tyler Angle perform in "Tribute" at the New York City Ballet. June 9, 2007.

Photo © & courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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