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New York City Ballet: Allegro Brillante, Harlequinade

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 14, 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
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New York City Ballet: Allegro Brillante, Harlequinade

New York City Ballet

(NYC Ballet Website)
(See Other NYC Ballet Reviews)

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
May 14, 2005

Conductor: Richard Moredock

Allegro Brillante (1956): (See June 19, 2004 Review.) Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Richard Moredock, Piano Solo: Nancy McDill, Performed by Jenifer Ringer, Philip Neal, and the Company. The Tschaikovsky ÎThird Piano Concerto" was first written as a symphony and then altered to include piano and orchestra. Balanchine said that this ballet "contains everything I know about the classical ballet in 13 minutes". (NYCB Notes).

This perfumy, powdery ballet, although somewhat brief, was a showcase for Jenifer Ringer's ability to command the stage with enhanced energy, technique, and personality. Philip Neal was an attentive partner, in good form and good timing. Tschaikovsky's score builds in momentum and magic, and Richard Moredock and the eight ensemble dancers, including the effervescent and mesmerizing Rachel Rutherford, provided depth and delicious drama to this uncluttered, eye-catching work.

Harlequinade, Ballet in Two Acts (1965): (See May 5, 2004 Review of Excerpt). Music by Riccardo Drigo, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery and Costumes by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by (in Act I, The House of Cassandre) Andre Kramarevsky, Adam Hendrickson, Amanda Edge, Benjamin Millepied, Alexandra Ansanelli, Teresa Reichlen, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Austin Laurent, and the Company, Performed by (in Act II, An Enchanted Park) the cast from Act I, plus Sterling Hyltin and the Company. Students from School of American Ballet appear in multitudes in Act II.

Balanchine follows the tradition of the commedia dell'arte. These were humorous, slapstick comedies with masks, such as Pierrot, the Harlequin, and Columbine. The popular tune, later known as "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow", was included in the score by Drigo. Drigo, from Italy, lived and worked in Russia for over 40 years with artists from opera and ballet. (NYCB Notes).

This was my first experience with the full-length Harlequinade, enchanting music by Drigo, and quintessentially charming, storybook sets and costumes by Ter-Arutunian. Columbine's (Alexandra Ansanelli) father (Andre Kramarevsky) tries to steer his daughter away from Harlequin (Benjamin Millepied) and toward a rich, old man (Adrian Danchig-Waring). The father's servant, Pierrot (Adam Hendrickson), tries to assist his employer's intentions, but Pierrot's wife, Pierrette (Amanda Edge), is on Harlequin's side. A Good Fairy (Teresa Reichlen) adds wealth to Harlequin's pockets, and the father quickly relents and allows the second act wedding to take place. Act II includes a full compliment of children, dressed in colorful and striking designs, with boys in clownish, tummy-enhancing costumes.

Benjamin Millepied was in his most virtuosic form, in striped body suit with matted, black hair. He is quite well partnered with Alexandra Ansanelli. The two embodied the upbeat, fairy-tale qualities of young love, and the leaps and lifts were exhilarating. Adam Hendrickson and Amanda Edge were in physical, spiritual, and lyrical sync, and these two youthful members of the company had some frolicking feats that were the highlights of Act I. Teresa Reichlen, as Good Fairy (La Bonne Fée), was perfectly cast, with her sinuous, long limbs and ingénue characterization. The Act II choreography is Balanchine at his brightest and most witty, and the seemingly hundreds of cherubic SAB dancers in circular and winding and marching fashion joined the NYC Ballet corps in sensational entertainment. Sterling Hyltin performed with aplomb as lead Alouette. Richard Moredock again conducted in a buoyant, brilliant array of dynamic music. Kudos to George Balanchine.

New York City Ballet Harlequinade
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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