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BWW REVIEW: New York City Ballet Brings a Stravinsky/Balanchine Program to the David H. Koch Theater

BWW REVIEW: New York City Ballet Brings a Stravinsky/Balanchine Program to the David H. Koch Theater

On March 1, 2018, I saw one of the final performances of New York City Ballet's Winter 2018 season (ending March 4th). The Stravinsky/ Balanchine program presents some of Balanchine's most appreciated ballets, which is exciting to experience. Over the years, many dancers have had the opportunity to perform these ballets. Now, many years since the death of the choreographer/artistic director, April 30, 1983, the NYCB company continues to thrive. While a number of the older dancers take on the style of the Master, many of the corps de ballet members seem to be dancing without the full comprehension of the spirit, even the technique, which created these works. This, of course, can be explained in part by the changes in the world in which they live. We can hope for evolution in a positive direction.

First on the program, Divertimento from Le Baiser de La Fee (The Fairy's Kiss) was choreographed in 1937. Balanchine added a final movement to this ballet, The Fairy's Kiss in 1972, which is the version presented today. This work has been brought back after a long absence. The corps de ballet's choreography is simple and the dancers looked rather like students. The principal couple have more of a challenge. Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz danced the principal roles beautifully at this performance. These two danced with lyricism and emotion.

The masterpiece, Agon, one of Balanchine's black and white ballets, followed, staging a more sophisticated ambiance. Agon, translated from the Greek, means contest. Maria Kowroski, principal dancer, has said that she sees the pas de deux as the back and forth of a relationship manifested in physical form. At this performance, Kowroski and Adrian Danchig-Waring danced this pas de deux with the aplomb and the spirit of NYCB dancers in the time of the founder. The supple and passionate Kowroski coupled with the strong and supportive Danchig-Waring brought Balanchine and Stravinsky to life brilliantly, ideal for these roles. Savannah Lowery, a soloist dancer in a principal role, was majestic and strong, particularly evident in the Second Pas de Trois, performed with Devin Alberda and Daniel Applebaum. We are fortunate that this ballet has been preserved.

  1. Concertant is a pas de deux danced by Ashley Bouder and Chase Finlay on March 1st. When the curtain opens, we see them standing by the violinist, Kurt Nikkanen, and the piano, played by Elaine Chelton. Their dancing seems to grow out of the music in relationship with the musicians. The personality of Nikkanen added to the piece. Bouder and Finley displayed chemistry, their well-rounded calves and a similar morphology on display. I have seen this ballet numerous times. This pair brought a believable relationship to life, making it spirited and fun. Spotlights on the dancers and limbs, and hands, etc. played an important role in this choreography. Original lighting was by Ronald Bates, when Balanchine made this piece for the 1972 Stravinsky Festival. It was recreated in this incarnation by Mark Stanley, who did the lighting for all the ballets presented.

One of the other ballets Balanchine created for the 1972 Stravinsky Festival was the majestic Symphony in Three Movements. The diagonal of corps de ballet members in white leotards was breathtaking as the curtain opened. The first color to enter the stage came with the entrance of the spritely Erica Pereira, wearing a bright pink leotard. She was partnered by the commanding Daniel Ulbricht. The next principals to enter were Tiler Peck, wearing peach and partnered by Taylor Stanley. They were smooth and engaging, even via the sometimes angular arm movements. Peck and Stanley were the jewel of this ballet dancing the pas de deux, in the second movement. The other principal couple was the long and angular Megan LeCrone, wearing salmon, with Joseph Gordon. The three ballerinas each contribute distinctly different personalities to the work as well as being the only pop of color on the background of white and black worn by the other dancers. The ending pose with full cast was as impressive as the opening.

While NYCB's winter season comes to an end on March 4th, their spring season, again at the Koch Theater, will commence April 24th through June 3rd.

Photo credit: Paul Kolnik

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