NYC BALLET Concerto Barocco-Goldberg Variations
February 1, 2015
Unquestionably a magnificent piece of choreography, George Balanchine's Concerto Barocco keeps giving and giving and giving to its audience. It’s a marvelous dance puzzle that’s as addicting as any computer game. Of course, the dancers have a thing or two to do with this season’s stellar performance to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. The musically luscious Sara Mearns coupled with an outstanding Teresa Reichlen in a demonstration of grace under technical pressure. Arms move boldly against legs drawing wide circles on the floor and lifting into leaps.
The music's structure is fully revealed in the choreography. Complex details add up to an elegant simplicity. Dressed in white tunics and tights, the dancers bear a youthful look enhanced by the 8-member corps frisky movements outlining and embracing the central female couple.
Because Mearns is larger and expansively generous in her movements, Reichlen is a perfect counterpart with her easy head and effortless leg manipulations. The conversation between the corps, two lead women and one male, Ask LaCour is scintillating. Tightly rehearsed, the corps flanks the leads; two dancers skittering sideways, while two others slowly peel away.
At one point, the corps faces each other in 2 lines, raise their arms to form an arcade, and Ask Lacier lead by a string of girls run through the arcade only to stop just before passing under the first arm, twist around and start supporting one dancer after another. A magnificent performance, this cast magnifies the ballet’s inherent eloquence.
The second half of the program saw the return of Jerome Robbins’ nearly 90-minute, evening length dramatically abstract ballet choreographed in 1971 to Bach’s score of the same name. A suite of dances, the ballet starts with a couple, Faye Arthurs and Zachary Catazaro executing a Brogue-style dance followed by contemporary section and returning to a mix of contemporary and historical sensibility.
Courtly etiquette, delicate hand gestures, and neat footwork stretches into full blooded athletics wonderfully delivered in Part 1 by the droll Joseph Gordon and nicely stretched Anthony Huxley. Particularly astute at making ballet steps look very contemporary, Robbins’ draws some of the sections out beyond their natural gene pool.
When Sterling Hyltin, Maria Kowroski and Tiler Pick command the stage in Part II, some of the choreographic vigor returns. Recently featured in the Kennedy Center Honors Awards Ceremony, Ms. Peck danced in tribute to the honoree, former NYC Ballet Principal Patricia McBride—the equivalent of “America’s Sweethert ballerina.” Similarly, Ms. Peck is nothing short of exceptional in her ease, pluck and openness.
In truth, the whole company navigated the choreography’s stylistic shifts with boundlessly youthful vigor.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis