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New York City Ballet: Divertimento No. 15, Polyphonia, Stravinsky Violin Concerto

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 21, 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: Divertimento No. 15, Polyphonia, Stravinsky Violin Concerto

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 21, 2005

Divertimento No. 15 (1956): Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrea Quinn, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Jennifer Tinsley, Rachel Rutherford, Janie Taylor, Miranda Weese, Jared Angle, Arch Higgins, Philip Neal, and the Company. A Divertimento does not have a fixed structure, and this particular one is choreographed for eight dancers and adds a cadenza for violin and viola. (NYCB Notes).

This is not one of Mr. Balanchine's more compelling ballets, but Ashley Bouder and Janie Taylor, on the eve of promotions to principals, are always compelling dancers, as is Miranda Weese. Ms. Rutherford, too, shone as always, but overpowered the less confident Philip Neal. Jennifer Tinsley exuded style and confidence, but little emotional energy. Ms. Bouder and Ms. Taylor are two of the most energetic and electrical female dancers in the company. The Karinska yellow and blue costumes were elegant and classical. Mozart's score was well chosen, and the Minuet and Variations movements were interesting. Among the male dancers, Arch Higgins brought life to the stage with balance and buoyancy.

Polyphonia (2001): Music by Gyorgy Ligeti, Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, Costumes by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Alan Moverman and Elaine Chelton, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Jock Soto, Miranda Weese, Edwaard Liang, Jennifer Tinsley, Jason Fowler, Alexandra Ansanelli, and Seth Orza. Set to ten varied piano pieces by Ligeti, Wheeldon has created unusual lifts, rolls, and pushes to contrast with classical ballet. (NYCB Notes).

This piece seemed just as fascinating for the score as for the dancing, with prepared piano and standard piano aptly presented by Mr. Moverman and Ms. Chelton. Jock Soto and Wendy Whelan are eternally matched in stark motifs, and Ligeti is a stark motif. Mark Stanley's lighting had its signature glow, and Alexandra Ansanelli and Miranda Weese added drama and daring dimension to the ten searing piano pieces. When Jock Soto partners Wendy Whelan, a breathless dimension is added, as they are so mutually tuned.

Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972):(See January 12, 2005 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, Nikolaj Hübbe, Sofiane Sylve, Albert Evans, and the Company. 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).

It was refreshing to see Nikolaj Hübbe join this repeat ensemble, in the classic male costume of black and white, with females in black. Mr. Hübbe can exude edginess and energy, and Arturo Delmoni's searing violin solos significantly enhanced this ambiance. After several viewings of this Balanchine work, it is always ripe and riveting. Sofiane Sylve and Albert Evans, both muscular and intense dancers, were quite well partnered. Alexandra Ansanelli seemed suited to Mr. Hübbe' s seasoned style. Stravinsky never sounded better under Andrea Quinn's capable baton.

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