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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
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New York City Ballet: Ballo della Regina, Todo Buenos Aires, Musagete

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 11, 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: Ballo della Regina, Todo Buenos Aires, Musagete

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 11, 2005

Ballo della Regina (1978): (See January 5, 2005 Review). Music by Giuseppe Verdi, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Ben Benson, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Joaquin De Luz, Amanda Edge, Sterling Hyltin, Carrie Lee Riggins, Ana Sophia Scheller, and the Company. Verdi's score was original ballet music for Don Carlos, but cut from the opera. It's a series of variations. (NYCB Notes).

Tonight's partnering of Joaquin De Luz and Ashley Bouder was an exemplary choice. There was tremendous tension and electricity in the air, on a night when Julio Bocca of ABT and Boccatango would be starring in the next piece. Joaquin De Luz, formerly of ABT, set the tone for the night with his highly charged spins, leaps, and charismatic presence. Ashley Bouder fed off this enhanced energy, and she kept her gaze fixed on her adoring audience. Amanda Edge seemed especially light in her footwork, and Sterling Hyltin, with whom I spoke at intermission, danced with radiance and rejuvenation.

The change in male lead from the January 5, 2004 presentation was a wise choice. This ensemble was plugged into electrical energy and magnetic resonance. Kudos to Joaquin De Luz and Ashley Bouder.

Todo Buenos Aires (Original: 2000; New Premiere : 2004): Music by Astor Piazzolla (Pachouli, Escualo, La Mufa, Todo Buenos Aires, Oblivión, Michelangelo 70), Music Arranged by Ron Wasserman, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes Supervised by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Guest Artist, Julio Bocca, Guest Artist, Robert Tewsley, and Darci Kistler, Wendy Whelan, Albert Evans, Nilas Martins, Philip Neal, Musicians: Kurt Nikkanen on Violin, Gerhardt Koch on Clarinets, H. Robert Carlisle on French horn, Ron Wasserman on Double bass, Nancy McDill on Piano, and Hector "Tito" Castro on Bandoneón.

The original production of Todo Buenos Aires premiered in 2000 and was choreographed to two Piazzolla tangos, La Mufa and Todo Buenos Aires. This expanded version uses six Piazzolla tangos, see above. Argentinean Julio Bocca is an international ballet star and Principal with American Ballet Theatre, appearing with New York City Ballet as a Guest Artist. Mr. Bocca is artistic director of Ballet Argentino and Boccatango. Argentinean Astor Piazzolla fuses tango, jazz, and classical elements for social and performance Argentine Tango and for cultural/classical concerts. (NYCB Notes).

Before wide swaths of material in black and blue, against a violet background, Julio Bocca, in still frieze, began his dance of tango passion, to the six poignant and powerful scores of Astor Piazzolla, whose music has often been featured by this writer. Julio Bocca, a Principal at American Ballet Theatre, led most of the six exquisite dances with machismo and Argentine Tango motifs, with "boléos" (backward leg turns), small "gonchos" (under the partner's thighs), and many additional tango steps, along with intermittent dance connections to Wendy Whelan, Darci Kistler, and a potent ensemble of male dancers. Robert Tewsley, who would lead the following work, seemed to be the most naturally poised in tango posture and attitude.

At times, Peter Martins' revamped choreography of this 2000 piece (with new musical arrangements by bassist, Ron Wasserman) seemed to be ballet. At times, it seemed to be tango. This is a first, because ballet companies have often tried to fuse the two genres and failed completely, due to the intensity and stylistic perfection necessitated in tango technique. Mr. Martins has, rather, fused the erotic/emotional tension, the male bonding, the bordello influence, and the riveting scores with virtuosic ballet, bravura partnering, and solo presentations.

There were counterpoint rhythms against the music and slower variations with the music. Oblivión was, as usual, gut wrenching and soulful. Michelangelo 70 was rarified and racing, to a potent score. Albert Evans and Nilas Martins had just the right amount of presence and poise, with flicks of the head and steely glances toward the audience. They absorbed this music and danced well to the mood and motif. Philip Neal seemed self-conscious and campy. The all male dances were appropriate to the historic legends of tango. Kudos to Peter Martins, to Julio Bocca, and to Astor Piazzolla.

As a note, the musicians onstage were exact to interpretations of Piazzolla found in tango "milongas" and included in the ensemble the very talented Kurt Nikkanen on searing violin, music arranger, Ron Wasserman, on bass, and renowned Hector "Tito" Castro on bandoneón.

Darci Kistler and Julio Bocca in New York City Ballet's Todo Buenos Aires
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Musagète (2004): (See June 19, 2004 Review). Music by Johann Sebastian Bach and Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by Boris Eifman, Scenery and Costumes by Slava Okunev, Costumes Supervised by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Maurice Kaplow, Piano: Elaine Chelton, Violin: Kurt Nikkanen, Oboe: Randall Wolfgang, Performed by Robert Tewsley, Guest Artist, and Alexandra Ansanelli, Maria Kowroski, Wendy Whelan, Jason Fowler, Stephen Hanna, Edwaard Liang, and the Company.
This ballet, dedicated to George Balanchine, as part of the 2004 Balanchine Centennial, is homage to the Maestro's transformations of Russian ballet from the 19th to the 21st centuries. This is a ballet about Balanchine's world, his personality and achievements, not a dance biography. Mr. Eifman has won numerous international awards, such as The People's Artist of Russia. (NYCB Notes).
On re-visiting this Eifman work, I was taken with the seamless flow of Tewsley's (Balanchine's) onstage memorial, as he dances with Wendy Whelan stage left, and she slides to dance with her new lover, stage right. Later, he loses Alexandra Ansanelli to polio, as she dances seamlessly, just before limbs hang lifelessly, and she is dragged on black material by a figure of death. Soon, Tewsley dances with Maria Kowroski, between ballet bars, and she eludes him time and again. Robert Tewsley is now a Guest Artist and danced twice on this program, in two contrasting ballets.

The Tschaikovsky Finale, with chandeliers and tutus, like other quoted Balanchine ballets in this work, was glamorous and richly staged. Kudos to Boris Eifman and to Robert Tewsley.

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