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BWW Reviews: New York City Ballet Brings its Unique Flavor to Lincoln Center

In the first week of New York City Ballet's return to the Koch Theater after Nutcracker season, I was excited to attend the January 21st performance featuring Russian composers.

The opening ballet, set to music of Sergei Rachmaninoff, was Symphonic Dances, choreographed by Peter Martins The rich Rachmaninoff score offers a bouquet of tempi, rhythms, and a variety of beautiful melodies. It would have been a pleasure to see more influences of these musical delights in the choreography, so as to leave the audience with an impression beyond patterns, colorful costumes, by Santo Loquasto, and some disconnected arm movements repeated by the men early in the ballet. The choreography for the principal couple, Sterling Hyltin and Andrew Veyette, was far more engaging. It could have been performed with more fluidity, but, for the most part, it added spark to the piece. Hyltin had moments when she seemed to channel Darci Kistler.

The Cage, a superb work by Jerome Robbins to Igor Stravinsky's Concerto in D for String Orchestra, was the gem of the evening. The program notes tell us, "There occurs in certain forms of insect and animal life, and even in our own mythology, the phenomenon of the female of the species considering the male as prey. This ballet concerns the rites of such a species." The lighting by Jennifer Tipton was dim; the décor by Jean Rosenthal suggested an insect world. The dancers' wigs and costumes by Ruth Sobotka gave them a non--human allure. In the principal role of The Novice, originally danced by Nora Kaye and, in recent years, magnificently portrayed by Wendy Whelan, was danced by soloist Lauren Lovette, who gave it her own dynamic. Lovette is truly a ballerina who fully takes command of her role, the stage, and her audience. Her aura is her own, which I look forward to following as she continues to grow in multiple roles. I could see her as a viable member of many top ballet companies.

As The Cage is not very long, it was followed, after a pause, by a Robbins pas de deux, Andantino, to Piano Concerto No. 1 of Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky. In this piece, originally choreographed for Darci Kistler and Ib Andersen, Robbins chose to infuse the dance with unforced romantic drama. The dancers were the dynamo, Tiler Peck and the energetic Gonzalo Garcia. Both danced well, although I did not pick up on a strong connection between the two. It was not easy switching gears so quickly from the intensity of The Cage to this light fare. It seems to me that if they pair these two ballets between intermissions, as is often done, Andatino should be first, followed by The Cage, leaving the audience to contemplate the latter during intermission.

The signature NYCB feel of the evening was rounded out by George Balanchine's Cortege Hongrois, to Alexander Glazounov's music from Raymonda. With Sara Mearns and Tyler Angle in the principal roles, the atmosphere was grand, classic Balanchine. Following Mearns' recent struggle with back injury, she lacks flexibility of spine. I'd like to see her work beyond that to attain more fluidity. Leading the character section of the work, danced in stage boots, were Georgina Pazoguin and Ask la Cour. Pazoguin danced with joy and energy, which livened up the already lively ballet.

NYCB's winter season will continue through March 2, 2015, with numerous ballets, short and full length to enjoy.

Photo credit: Paul Kolnik

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