Above: Maria Kowroski in Balanchine's CHACONNE; photo by Paul Kolnik
Tuesday October 14th, 2014 - This year marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Christoph Wilibald von Gluck, and Maria Kowroski and her colleagues at New York City Ballet are celebrating with performances of CHACONNE, George Balanchine's exquisite masterwork set to music from Gluck's opera ORFEO ED EURIDICE. Tonight's performance was one of the finest I've ever seen of this ballet.
CHACONNE opens with a group of long-haired beauties celebrating their gentle rites in some lost Elysian Field. Among them were several dancers relatively new to the Company, whose names I cannot link to a face. It will take time to sort this out. But they're all lovely.
And then the loveliest of all - Maria Kowroski - appears, slowly walking to center-stage where she meets her cavalier, Tyler Angle. Their opening duet, to the familiar flute melody (Dance of the Blessed Spirits), is languid and other-worldly; Maria's hair is down, giving full play to her serene femininity.
Then the ballet transforms itself into a formal divertissement. A gracious pas de trois was litlingly danced by Gretchen Smith, Emily Kikta, and Aaron Sanz; then Lauren King and Anthony Huxley have a charming pas de deux with some very tricky, face-paced partnering. They brought if off with brilliantly polished success. Indiana Woodward led the pas de cinq graciously.
The heart of the ballet is a pas de deux for Maria - her hair now up in full ballerina mode - and Tyler, to which they bring an Old World courtliness. As they alternate solo passages, Maria shows a very subtle trace of elegant wit in her dancing whilst Tyler displays his fluency in leaps, beats, and lyrical turns. Both dancers were at their finest, regaling us with both their technical prowess and their beloved personalities, and displaying an ever-blossoming rapport.
In the impressively structured final Chaconne, Devin Alberda and David Prottas excelled in demi-soliste roles, dancing with Ashley Hod and Unity Phelan
CHACONNE tonight was New York City Ballet at its Balanchnian best. Champagne and roses to everyone involved.
INTERPLAY is probably my least favorite ballet in NYCB's repertory but thanks to their current programming style, if you wanted to see CHACONNE this Autumn, you must also see INTERPLAY. I sat thru it because some dancers I especially like were cast: Meagan Mann, Lydia Wellington and Sarah Villwock all showed jazzy energy and looked sweet in their pony-tails. Brittany Pollack and Peter Walker were very nice together in the pas de deux, the ballet's most palatable passage. Devin Alberda knows how to steal a scene: subtly but surely he kept drawing my opera glasses to him. Spartak Hoxha and Harrison Coll were the other lively boys.
During the pas de deux from AFTER THE RAIN, which Wendy Whelan is now dancing in her bare feet, the audience was held in an enthralled state of utter silence. Dancing with the ultra-charismatic Craig Hall, Wendy moved with hypnotic grace thru this duet which has become such an iconic work for her. She is all purity and light, a prismatic filter for the haunting simplicity of the Arvo Part score, played with striking clarity by Arturo Delmoni and Alan Moverman. Whilst manipulating his angelic ballerina, the musculature of Craig's back showed us the physical workings of a great partner, transforming athleticism into art. By the time these luminous dancers settled into the ballet's final repose, the audience were ready to unleash a tidal wave of applause. After a gracious 'thank you' from Wendy to the musicians, she and Craig were called before the curtain four times. Wendy's bare feet again made me think of seeing her in some of Isadora Duncan's dances.
Having endured the Morton Gould score for the sake of Gluck and Part, my patience with uninteresting music was spent for the evening. When Justin Peck's EVERY WHERE WE GO began, the music immediately started rubbing me the wrong way. Despite having NYCB's three super-A-men (Adrian, Andy, and Amar) all handsomely present onstage at curtain-rise, the music was so...meh...that I decided to leave.
CHACONNE: Kowroski, T. Angle, *King, *Huxley, *Kikta, G Smith, *Sanz, *Woodward, *Hod, *Alberda, *Phelan, *Prottas
INTERPLAY: Pollack, *Wellington, *Mann, *Villwock, Walker, Alberda, Hoxha,*Coll
AFTER THE RAIN (Pas de Deux): Whelan, Hall
EVERYWHERE WE GO: Krohn, Isaacs, Hyltin, Reichlen, Danchig-Waring, Ramasar, Veyette