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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
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New York City Ballet: Square Dance, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 12, 2005
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: Square Dance, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3

New York City Ballet
George Balanchine's
(NYC Ballet Website)

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
Marketing, Managing Director, Rob Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns

New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 12, 2005

Square Dance (1957): (See May 31, 2003 Review). Music by Arcangelo Corelli and Antonio Vivaldi, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Performed by Megan Fairchild and Peter Boal, and the Company. Balanchine wrote, "The American style of classical dancing, its supple sharpness and richness of metrical invention, its superb preparation for risks, and its high spirits were some of the things I was trying to show in this ballet." (NYCB Notes).

The muscular and seasoned Peter Boal partnered the youthful and petite Megan Fairchild in a virtuoso performance of this delightful 1957 Balanchine work in an all Balanchine evening. In shades of pale blue against a deep blue backdrop, Ms. Fairchild presented backward leg kicks, in signature Balanchine fashion, gaze affixed to her audience in repeated head turns, and a spirited, buoyant persona, as she easily kept pace with her partner. Mr. Boal's solos were outstanding in tempo, balance, and energy. Both dancers exuded confidence and charisma.

Vivaldi's and Corelli's scores were well developed with the square dance motif, as Maurice Kaplow conducted with verve and vitality. The ensemble of six couples, all in the simple, pale blue costumes, was seen in folk motif, minus the authentic country setting. Ms. Fairchild is a dancer to watch.

Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972):(See June 24, 2004 Review). Music by Igor Stravinsky (Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major), Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrea Quinn, Solo Violinist: Arturo Delmoni, Performed by Alexandra Ansanelli, Nilas Martins, Wendy Whelan, Albert Evans, and the Company, including Saskia Beskow (Danskin Spokesperson). This music premiered in 1931, Stravinsky conducting and Samuel Dushkin as solo violinist. In 1941, Balanchine used this music for dance for the original Ballets Russes, under the title, Balustrade. (NYCB Notes).

In black/white leotards for the men and black on black for the women, Alexandra Ansanelli, poignantly partnered by Nilas Martins, and Wendy Whelan, powerfully partnered by Albert Evans, plus a stylistically riveting ensemble, performed an exceptional interpretation of this stark, 1972 Balanchine work. Arturo Delmoni, as violin soloist, brought an extra eeriness and edginess to Wendy Whelan's spider-like turns on hands and feet. Mr. Martins is dancing with assurance and attitude, and he is quite well suited to Ms. Ansanelli's magnetic stage persona, as she created contortions around his solid limbs. Mr. Evans has also become a powerful performer, and his lifts and athleticism are well matched to Ms. Whelan's taut body structure and gymnastic skills.

Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 (1970): Music Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery and Costumes by Nicolas Benois, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrea Quinn, Performed by Ellen Bar, Stephen Hanna, Rachel Rutherford, James Fayette, Ashley Bouder, Tom Gold, Sofiane Sylve, Charles Askegard, and the Company. In 1947, Balanchine produced "Theme and Variations" for Ballet Theater. Tschaikovsky composed Suite No. 3 in 1884, and it was premiered in 1885. Nicolas Benois, son of Diaghilev's ballet designer, created scenery and costumes for Balanchine. (NYCB Notes).

This 1970 revival is a must-see-again work, with layers of color, texture, mood, settings, costumes, and fantasy/reality. The Élégie, Valse Mélancolique, and Scherzo are all danced in dream-like fashion and settings, with the dimmed chandeliers against a gauzy screen or lighting. In Élégie, Ellen Bar and Stephen Hanna were impassioned and fleeting, as six additional sprites, in chiffony and flowing dresses of lavender-mauve, darted to and fro, with hair falling like Giselle. Tschaikovsky never sounded more tender and rapturous, than it did tonight under the deft baton of Andrea Quinn, and Mark Stanley's lighting was critical to the success of this fascinating revival.

Sofiane Sylve and Charles Askegard in New York City Ballet's Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Ellen Bar and Stephen Hanna in New York City Ballet's Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

In Valse Mélancolique, Rachel Rutherford was superbly partnered by James Fayette, while six additional sprites in flowing hues of peach-pink added an ethereal and hypnotic quality with fleeting choreography. James Fayette's theatrical techniques served him well in this movement. Ashley Bouder and Tom Gold were riveting in the Scherzo, with Mr. Gold's lightning spins and leaps and Ms. Bouder's windy and wily footwork, on one leg and en air. No less than eight sprites were on hand for this fast-tempo movement.

In the better known and classical fourth movement, Tema con Variazioni (Theme and Variations), Sofiane Sylve and Charles Askegard were regal and poised, as the chandeliers sent forth light, and we were now indoors in a palace with columns and marbling, tiaras and tutus. Ms. Sylve had her fans ablaze with accolades, as she performed astute solos and palatial pirouettes, amidst an ensemble of four classically costumed couples. Mr. Askegard handled the rapid and elevated choreography with aplomb.

Kudos to the Andrea Quinn for superbly conducting the Ballet Orchestra in this changing, challenging choreography.

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