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New York City Ballet

'Danses Concertantes', 'The Cage', 'Andantino', 'Symphony in C'

by Colleen Boresta

October 13 (m), 2012 -- Koch Theatre, Lincoln Center, New York, NY

New York City Ballet’s 2012 fall season has been devoted primarily to the collaboration between George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky. The October 13th matinee features one Balanchine/ Stravinsky work,’Danses Concertantes’, and one Jerome Robbins/Stravinsky ballet, ‘The Cage’. The other pieces on the program are ‘Andantino’ with music by Tchaikovsky and choreography by Robbins and ‘Symphony in C’, a Balanchine ballet set to Bizet’s score of the same name.

‘Danses Concertantes” is Balanchine’s salute to the old Ballet Russe. It is a light, frothy work danced playfully by the entire cast. Megan Fairchild’s bubbly personality fits the Stravinsky music brilliantly. She is partnered by Tyler Angle, who brings wit and zest to the mix.

The next work is Jerome Robbins’ classic ‘The Cage’, set to Stravinsky’s String Concerto in D. ‘The Cage’ is about a tribe of insect-like females who consider the male of the species their prey.
The curtain rises on a set containing a huge spider’s web. A baby bug (the Novice) has just been born and needs to be initiated into the tribe.

A male intruder invades the insects’ lair and is ritually killed by the Novice as a part of her training. The entire group celebrates his death. Then another interloper arrives, a male the Novice finds very intriguing. They dance a plaintive pas de deux and the Novice falls in love with him. But nature and the strength of the tribe force the Novice to kill her lover. Again the group performs a gleeful dance as they circle the man’s body and the curtain comes down.

Today ‘The Cage’ is considered one of Robbins’ greatest ballets, but when it premiered in 1951, many critics were appalled. Robbins famously responded by saying that ‘The Cage’ was actually just the second act of ‘Giselle’ in a contemporary visualization. I am a great admirer of Jerome Robbins’ ballets, but I just don’t see the analogy between ‘Giselle’ and “The Cage’. Yes, the willis in ‘Giselle’ do kill males who come into their forest. Giselle’s love, however, saves Albrecht when the willis try to dance him to death. The Novice in ‘The Cage’ ends up killing the man she loves.

Still ‘The Cage’ is a very powerful ballet. As the Novice, Sterling Hyltin is both wild and strangely innocent. Rebecca Krohn is a masterfully ferocious Queen of the insect-like tribe. ‘The Cage’ remains just as relevant today as when it was first performed in 1951.

After ‘The Cage’ comes ‘Andantino’. It is a hauntingly wistful pas de deux created by Jerome Robbins to Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, Second Movement. Robbins’ choreography fits Tchaikovsky’s music flawlessly. Both Tiler Peck and Gonzalo Garcia are the perfect vessels for Tchaikovsky’s exquisite score.

The afternoon ends with Balanchine’s incomparable ‘Symphony in C’, set to music by Georges Bizet. ‘Symphony in C’ is one of Balanchine’s radiant tutu ballets. It is divided into four parts, based on the music. Each section is led by a ballerina, a premier danseur and the corps de ballet.

In the first movement, Allegro Viva, new principal dancer, Ana Sophia Scheller, impresses with her clean and dazzling footwork. Jared Angle is an attentive partner who performs his solos wonderfully. Jared Angle has really come into his own in the last couple of seasons.

Maria Kowroski thrills the audience in the Adagio section with her magnificent arabesques penche. The gorgeous fluidity of her line and long, lyrical extensions brings tears to my eyes. Tyler Angle’s impeccable partnering shows off Kowroski’s dancing at its very finest.

In the third movement, Allegro Vivace, Antonio Carmena stands out for his speed and wonderful elevation. Unfortunately his partner, soloist Erica Pereira, cannot keep up with Carmena. Her jumps, which lack height, are especially disappointing. How I miss seeing Ashley Bouder in the role!

In the final section, corps member Lauren King’s turns do not have the needed sharpness and precision. As with the third movement, King is totally outclassed by her partner, soloist Adrian Danchig-Waring. He has been performing at a very high level this season. Hopefully, Danchig-Waring will be promoted to principal dancer before much longer.

Even with these weaknesses, ‘Symphony in C’ is still a remarkable ballet. I hope New York City Ballet continues to dance this Bizet work for years to come.

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