George Balanchine created New York City Ballet as a distinctly American company, forging a new style of movement that shaped 20th-century dance. In honor of this history, New York City Ballet performs two mixed repertory programs April 3 _8 in the Opera House. Balanchine said, "The music is always first." To uphold this dedication, the Company's performances are all danced to live music, this year performed by the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra.
The first program pays tribute to America's creative spirit, showcasing works by American artists. In 1970, Balanchine choreographed the delightful Who Cares? to orchestrations by Hershy Kay of 16 George Gershwin songs, including "I Got Rhythm," "The Man I Love," "Embraceable You," and "My One and Only." The New York Times noted, "Balanchine, who had been giving classical ballet an American accent for decades, in these dances made an enchanting amalgam of jazz and classicism. There is a seamlessness with which they move between fast and slow sections with no apparent gearchange: the same unflustered sunny calm shines through at all speeds."
NYCB Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins's textured, plotless Fearful Symmetries is danced to the exciting rhythmic pulse of John Adams's score of the same name. The Los Angeles Times calls it "fast, bright, primitive, and energetic."
The program concludes with Jerome Robbins's West Side Story Suite, featuring dancers in dialogue and song with a score by Leonard Bernstein. The New York Times raves, "its combination of street energy, wonderfully rhythmic phrasing, and sheer razzle-dazzle is irresistible," while the Seattle Times calls it "transcendent."
Under the leadership of Peter Martins, the Company also remains committed to the creation of new choreography, bringing a second program focusing on 21st-century works. Peter Martins's black and white ballet Hallelujah Junction, named after the score by John Adams, is a "spare and elegant work" (The New York Times).
Alexei Ratmansky's Russian Seasons is an inventive and exciting combination of dance and musical flavors. The ballet for 12 dancers uses classical steps with elements of folk and jazz mixed in. Set to a score of the same name composed by Leonid Desyatnikov in 2000 for soprano, violin and string orchestra, the 12 musical sections follow the 12 months of the year. Created for New York City Ballet in 2006, it has been called "deft and moving" by the New York Times and "compelling" by Toronto's Globe and Mail, which also praised Ratmansky as "a keeper: an incredibly sophisticated dancesmith."
Christopher Wheeldon brings Les Carillons, a new work the Associated Press calls "a romantic and colorful romp" that is danced to music by Georges Bizet, the orchestral suite L'Arl_sienne.
All American (Apr. 3, 5, 6 eves & 7 mat.)
Who Cares? (Balanchine/Gershwin, arr. Kay)
Fearful Symmetries (Martins/Adams)
West Side Story Suite (Robbins/Bernstein)
21st Century (Apr. 4 & 7 eves & 8 mat.)
Hallelujah Junction (Martins/Adams)
Russian Seasons (Ratmansky/Desyatnikov)
Les Carillons (Wheeldon/Bizet)