BWW Reviews: NEW YORK CITY BALLET Reveres Its Great Masters
Halfway through celebrating its 50th year at the David H. Koch Theatre in Lincoln Center, the New York City Ballet showcased three diverse pieces influenced by the Company's greatest artists - Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, and of course, George Balanchine. The Saturday evening performance on May 17th presented an evening of "Tradition and Innovation."
The night began with Christopher Wheeldon's A Place for Us, a pas de deux dedicated to Jerome Robbins. Set to music by André Previn and Leonard Bernstein, the ballet featured principals Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild playfully and romantically dancing along to the piano and clarinet. Filled with long, extended limbs sweeping through the air, arms wavering through the space, and even a signature hip swivel from when Tony and Maria first met at the gym in West Side Story, it was a fitting tribute to Mr. Robbins.
The second piece of the evening was Todo Buenos Aires, a piece by Peter Martins. Originally part of the Diamond Project, which commissions new choreographic works, Todo Buenos Aires explores the sensuality of Argentinian tango, cleverly entangled in the effortless grace of ballet. With the bandoneon playing music composed by Astor Piazzolla and arranged by Ron Wasserman, costumes by Holly Hynes, and lighting by Mark Stanley, audiences were transported to a nightclub in Buenos Aires. Amidst the high kicks was high drama, heightened especially by two arousing tango trios, filled with dynamic partnering and gravity defying lifts.
Set apart from the rest was soloist Joaquin De Luz. Do not let his short stature fool you- he is a powerhouse. His cool presence commanded the audience's attention, and with just a subtle hip hinge or flick of the wrist, he left them entranced. He moved through the stage with such suave that audiences could not keep their eyes off him. And with a final sequence of tours en l'air circling the stage, the audiences simply could not hold their excitement in.
The evening ended with Robert Schumann's "Davidsbündlertänze," one of George Balanchine's last major works for the Company. The ballet depicted the frail life of composer Robert Schumann with his wife Clara Wieck. The perfect pairings highlighted such a complex and dynamic relationship, and with the four couples dancing one after the other, the distinct segments seemed disjointed and the personalities mixed. However, audiences could still sense the invisible link that bonded them together, the love between Schumman and Wieck that was true throughout the ballet. A telling story without much to tell, Balanchine let the music drive the emotional and physical aspects of the ballet, producing a hauntingly tragic yet profoundly moving piece.
It was a night of celebration for the Company's great masters, not of their greatest works, but of simply, their lives. For Jerome Robbins, it was a symbol of admiration and gratitude by a former student. For Peter Martins, it was a toast to the future, a celebration of new works and those who support innovative choreography. And for George Balanchine, a final bow. A testimony of the ups and downs of life and love.
Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik