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Lori Ortiz
Performance Reviews
Lincoln Center
New York City Ballet
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"Agon," "The Lady with the Little Dog," "Cortège Hongrois"

by Lori Ortiz
January 23, 2010
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
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David H. Koch Theater
A heady mix of Russian provenance stimulated ballet-goers at the January 23 matinee. City Ballet gave the romantic premiere from Ukrainian Alexey Miroshnichenko between complex, absorbing constructions— the austere, Balanchine/Stravinsky "Agon" was the opener.

Fayçal Karoui conducted the orchestra in Igor Stravinsky music for the 1957, black and white "Agon." Wendy Whelan and Albert Evans led. Whelan did not look ready for her opening passages. Was she saving her energy for their excellent pas de deux? Her quick, razor-sharp supported turns and his solid support and shadowing brought life to this "Agon." Teresa Reichlen, newly made principal and partnered by Sean Suozzi, made sparks with sliding steps, sissonne, and splits, to castanets in the score. Craig Hall ably replaced star soloist of the moment Adrian Danchig-Waring.

The highlight was "The Lady with the Little Dog," made after the Anton Chekov story. It is at once romantic and minimalist. Rodion Shchedrin wrote the wonderful music and Miroshnichenko dedicated the ballet to the composer's wife, the great Ballerina Maya Plisetskaya for her eighty-fifth birthday. Chekov would be 150 and Miroshnichenko offers his creation. Oh, and it's Balanchine's birthday too.

Sterling Hyltin is well cast as Anna Sergeevna. She hides her face in her hands in a moment of guilt. This is a ballet of emotions and psychology, but Chekov refuses moral judgment and an effortless-looking Hyltin dances her with seductive innocence. Andrew Veyette, a perfectly bored Gurov, whirls her overhead, and low to the ground. She wears Tatiana Noginova's apt, black tulle skirt with velvety bodice. Eight male Angels facilitate the narrative, rolling out a multi-purpose path of Marley to serve as bed, or swath of sea. They lie upstage and the couple walks over their raised legs. (It didn't quite work on this occasion.) In one of the dance's memorable lighter touches, a hunched Angel, Troy Schumacher, waves goodbye to his fellows as they exit.

A compelling movement vocabulary of off-kilter overhead lifts and wobbly, etiolated poses and walks, ties this dance together. Miroshnichenko conveys meaning with unexpected metaphors. An exchange of eyeglasses gives us information about the characters' occupations. In a journey scene, their arms circle as if they are rowing. The music and the dancers' musicality take us from Yalta to Moscow and back. Philipp Dontsov's eye-catching striped movie, and Mark Stanley's amazing lighting help us time-travel over the course of their relationship.

Balanchine recommended a simple story for ballet. Such is Chekov's "The Lady with the Little Dog." An interview in the program with a few summary lines is helpful for those unfamiliar with it.

The confectionary "Cortège Hongrois" and its predictable Glazounov music tamped the high-minded, high-key aura of forbidden love. The 1973 Balanchine homage to Petipa, to its credit, showcased corps dancers in wonderful pageantry. The bouncy dance is surely a product of its time, with the women trailing short streamers and jangling the spurs on their go-go boots. It looked like frippery after Miroshnichenko's brooding, luminous premiere.
Sterling Hyltin and Andrew Veyette in 'The Lady with The Little Dog'

Sterling Hyltin and Andrew Veyette in "The Lady with The Little Dog"

Photo © & courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Maria Kowrowski and Jonathan Stafford in 'Cortege Hongrois'

Maria Kowrowski and Jonathan Stafford in "Cortege Hongrois"

Photo © & courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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