Wednesday, July 08, 2009

New York City Ballet is home in Saratoga more magnificent than ever. Restore 3wk. season please!

New York City Ballet shines in Saratoga Springs opener
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
By Wendy Liberatore (Contact)
Gazette Reporter

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SARATOGA SPRINGS — New York City Ballet is back at its summer home, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. And though the company’s stay will be shortened to a mere two weeks, its 44th season here is not short on terrific dance and music.

Evidence of that was Tuesday’s opening night in a salute to Russian music. The orchestra, led with vigor by Faycal Karoui, was freshly tuned. And the dancing, in George Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations” and “Symphony in Three Movements,” was spectacular.

Certainly, it’s what audiences have come to expect from City Ballet, one of the greatest companies in the world. And much of their greatness is due to its founder, the world’s most masterful choreographer, the late Balanchine.

His “Symphony in Three Movements” to Stravinsky’s daring score was one of the highlights. The strength of this ballet is the striking corps de ballet and the exotic pas de deux. And the tableau ending with all the men crouched, as if ready to pounce, is so original that it never fails to elicit gasps and whoops.

The ballet begins with a diagonal line of women. They wheel their arms and march about en pointe as if soldiers readying for battle. They disperse and Sterling Hyltin and Daniel Ulbricht appear. They jump straight up and sideways with their feet tucked underneath their rumps. As they bounce, the women return, flinging their arms and legs, heightening the hum of the music and bulking up the already large energy output.

The duet, with Abi Stafford and Jared Angle, is quieting and engrossing. They move toward each other, their arms snaky. As they approach with small steps, they entwine their arms and then move to the center. As they circle each other, hands and feet flexed, the look is strange, but alluring.

At the end, the music purrs as the full cast joins together for an eye-popping finale.

The marvelous “Symphony in Three Movements” is the antithesis of Balanchine’s formal and cool “Theme and Variations.” Yet it is equally enjoyable. Here, Megan Fairchild, with Andrew Veyette, becomes a turning machine. Her petite allegro is extremely taxing, but she pulls it off with regal ease.

Veyette, too, is impressive. He has matured from a slouchy, faceless dancer to one of princely status. He’s always had the chops, but now he owns the persona. It was wonderful to see.

The program opened with Christopher Wheeldon’s atmospheric “Mercurial Manoeuvres,” to music by Shostakovich. The music and dance, though initially foreboding, grows into a vision of beauty. Gonzalo Garcia was ebullient as the solo dancer in red. And Tiler Peck, with Adrian Danchig-Waring, was the soul of exquisite calm.

Finally, the bill was filled out by Sean Lavery’s lovely “Romeo and Juliet” pas de deux to music by Prokofiev. The lovers’ earnestness is clear in the choreography, but as danced by Yvonne Borree and Tyler Angle, it was only evident with Romeo. Borree, though she makes all the right moves, was icy until the very end as she kissed her Romeo and fled up the balcony stairs.

Reach Gazette reporter Wendy Liberatore at 395-3199 or at

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