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The evening of Thursday, October 5, 2017 was an All Balanchine program of the New York City Ballet. At the Koch Theater, the repertoire consisted of Square Dance, La Valse, and Cortege Hongrois. These three dances featured just a small range of the choreography that its founder, George Balanchine, created decades ago and to this day are staples of the company.

Square Dance

The ballet's name is misleading to me because there were only subtle but nor overt semblances of a square dance formation or costumes. Nonetheless, Mr. Balanchine must have had a reason for the name. Principal dancers Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley were the royals of Square Dance. y commanded the corps, or as I saw it, the lords and ladies of the ball with their exceptional presence. The simplistic costumes of pink tights and leotard allowed me to imagine a more glamorous ensemble for this role. Arcangelo Corelli and Anthony Vivaldi's music moved Ms. Fairchild's feet and legs with ardor. From her pique circle to numerous entre chat quatres, the violins' ferocious strings set her exquisite technique apart from the rest. Even though each dancer wore the same costume, you could easily spot her onstage amongst the dozen corps de ballet dancers.

The corps appeared at times tedious and stiff. There was a lack of seasoned refinement in the timing of major portions of the choreography. On the other hand, Mr. Huxley danced to a beautiful ballad with grace and abandon. He led with his chest proudly and showcased the soft landing that only a Balanchine trained dancer could exhibit in his petit allegro. Overall, I was extremely pleased with the casting of the principal dancers and I look forward to the corps continuing to keep up with standards Mr. B's choreography demands.

La Valse

I wanted to see glamour and I got it. This ballet has its female dancers wearing long white satin gloves, jewel encrusted bodices and necklaces, and diaphanous tulle skirts that reveal a plethora of colors within them. Even though, Serge Diaghilev rejected the score by Maurice Ravel for being "untheatrical", I totally disagreed. The music was instrumental in creating the various scenes. Sterling Hyltin was the quintessential woman in white who was both horrified and fascinated by the dark stranger who entered from The Shadows. Balanchine's choreography was more theatrical than technical, which Ms. Hyltin utilized to help me understand this ballet. The mad whirl of waltzes with male partners sweeping ladies to and fro was reminiscent of Mr. B's Vienna Waltzes with the exception that in this ballet, Ms. Hyltin is destroyed and dragged from the scene after her sinister encounter. What I enjoyed the most was the partnership and chemistry of Ms. Hyltin and her partner, principal dancer, Jared Angle. Nevertheless, Balanchine's choreography and story displayed that that evil could overpower and thus destroy. Fortunately, the next ballet's presence was less macabre.

Cortege Hongrois

Classical Russian choreography a la Balanchine style to Alexander Glazounov's Raymonda music. This was the highlight of this program due to the principal dancer, Sara Mearns. In a classical tutu, she was the ballerina of the night. Ms. Mearns was poised and handled the challenging classical choreography with ease. Principal dancer, Tyler Angle, was her partner and they were equally matched. Ms. Mearns' balance was unwavering as were her promenades en pointe. What a strong woman who has the ability to diversify her dance styles to match the role! As the reviewer, I was very pleased to see such a well-executed pas de deux filled with outstanding technique and personal touch. The other half of this ballet incorporated Hungarian czardas character dancing. The echo of the bells on the costumes alerted the audience to the festivities that take place in Eastern Europe. All the port de bras effaces of the Hungarian ladies were right on the mark-both classical yet gypsy. Such a wonderful performance that packed so much elegance and power into one.

This evening's star was the repertoire of the late George Balanchine. The continuation of artistic director, Peter Martins, leadership to maintain Mr. Balanchine's life's work on today's dancers is invaluable. The challenges for some dancers and the natural refinement from others will be important for the future of Mr. B's artistic legacy. This is why New York City Ballet is one of the premiere companies in the world.

Photo Credit: Michael Lidvac

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