BWW Reviews: Fans of NEW YORK CITY BALLET 'See the Music' of Three 20th Century Violin Concertos
Balanchine once said, "See the music, hear the dance". The audience at the Koch Theater on the afternoon of February 22nd 2014 had the opportunity to do exactly that when the works of three very different choreographers brought treasured violin concertos to life. Kudos to Concertmasters Arturo Delmoni and Kurt Nikkanen, who offered admirable solo violin performances.
As for the ballets, I have never been much of a fan of Peter Martins' choreography but I do find his pleasantly amusing "Barber Violin Concerto", created in 1988 for NYCB's American Music Festival, to be worth seeing. Two couples in white, one of them classical with the ballerina on pointe and the other as modern dancers with bare feet, eventually switch partners while the distinctions between the two disciplines begin to blur. My take on this is that Martins wanted to document how the once rigid divide that kept contemporary works and classical ballets in separate camps had given way in the 20th century to a melding of the styles. The original casting included noted modern choreographer and dancer David Parsons, then of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, with fellow company member Kate Johnson as his partner. What's interesting is that today, as though the 1988 message was prophetic, the modern roles are ably and accurately performed by City Ballet members cross-trained in contemporary movement.
Even so, the Martins' work was no match for the other two ballets on the program. I continue to be amazed that Martins has the temerity to put his ballets on the same bill with those of the masters, in this case Robbins and Mr. B himself. "Opus 19/The Dreamer", which Robbins choreographed in 1979 to Prokofiev's "Violin Concerto No.1 in D Major", depicts a man's yearning search for the elusive and ethereal woman of his imaginings. Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild, as well as the corps of six couples, expertly executed the undulating moves that evoke an otherworldly ambience.