Review: City Ballet is Back with Balanchine and Confetti

After the final ballet, confetti rained on the stage. The dancers cried during their bows, at least a handful of times. The audience stirred the air with hearty and competitive cheers and applause. But wasn’t all this expected too much? Even more frightening—though oddly convenient—were the puddles on the pavement outside. It had rained at one point during the show. When we left the theater after 18 long months and the stunning performance of George Balanchine’s “Symphony C,” the opening night of the New York City Ballet was like a rainbow.

On Tuesday, at the David H. Koch Theatre, City Ballet opened the door – without a break and with a vaccinated audience told to stay masked. autumn season with Balanchine’s “Serenade”. It made sense. Featured in Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, this ballet is a breathtaking ballet for anyone and everyone, where dancers sweep a moonlit stage in pale blue tulle that floats and settles around their bodies like waves.

Part of Balanchine’s brilliance – and there’s so much to choose from – her main way of reacting was her ability to bring real life to ballet. In 1935, she choreographed “Serenade,” her first ballet in America, with unpolished dancers and open-air rehearsals. The dancers raised their hands to block as the sun shone in their eyes. He took notes, and this magnificent piece opens like this: Rows of dancers, bending their wrists, raise their arms to the sky; slowly lower the arms until the backs of the hands pass over the eyes.

There was a fallen dancer. And a dancer who came to rehearsal late and quickly took her place among the others. Balanchine used them all. “Serenade” is a masterpiece that must be watched every season, every day, but now due to the pandemic, it has lessons and dance too – women enter the world of ballet when they open their feet from the parallel. to the first location – as in the origin story. What does “Serenade” in 2021 say? Make the most of what you have. Pay attention to the world around you.

It’s nice to have the “Serenade” repeated throughout the season: it’s a tool to help dancers get back into their ballet physique, building up the stamina so they can fly through with finer-than-athletic footwork and bodies that can bend and twist. faint like thin reeds. Starring Sterling Hyltin, Ashley Bouder and Megan LeCrone, this “Serenade” developed as it progressed, but sometimes the dance lagged in speed, liveliness and audacity. Adrian Danchig-Waring was a bright spot in his debut, an efficient and exuberant performance at best; alive, certainly, but never as alive as it could be.

Unfortunately, the other Balanchine ballet on the schedule, “Symphony in C” won’t be repeated: It’s scheduled as a special opening night event, which – when you consider the rehearsals that go into it and the stamina it can create – is a bit confusing. Megan Fairchild remarkably, she gave birth to twins not so long ago, spearheaded in the first part with such vivacity that Joseph Gordon (and his dazzling pirouettes) seemed to be feeding as he adorned his performance with even more enthusiasm.

The program was supposed to be shorter than usual due to the pandemic, but with a late start it lasted two hours in the evening and was further extended by what was billed as a special treat – the City Ballet orchestra performed Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Waltz.” Flowers.” Maybe it was a way to buy some time before “Symphony in C,” but selling “Nutcracker” tickets felt like a game.

Also in the middle was the pas de deux from “After the Rain” by Christopher Wheeldon. With the right dancers, it feels full circle – engravings of ballet life told in whispered steps. Performed too often by too many dancers? Yeah. God, Yeah. But this pas de deux created in his honor athlete sotoHis retirement in 2005 has always seemed like a tribute to him. Wendy Whelan, her original partner in the work and a dancer of luminous fragility.

On Tuesday, two soon-to-be-retired managers, Maria Kowroski and ask la Cour, the recipient of the ballet returned Arvo Pärt’s “Spiegel im Spiegel” to its original, intimate place. They are both long, their lengths match. But on top of that, the combination of la Cour’s understated demeanor and Kowroski’s silent movie star looks hyper-focus the choreography with slow movements and dreamy backward bends. Together, they find a way to not only advance in choreography, but have the serenity to live in.

In Pas de deux, Kowroski, whose farewell performance on October 17, She wears a simple pink leotard and ballet slippers – a costume that alludes to a ballerina looking back at her career. Without much effort, he seemed to base his performance on a consciousness of time and space; As she danced, she gazed around her, eyes hovering on the floor and lingering in the farthest corners of the stage that only a dancer could see.

It was her first goodbye to a stage where she had been dancing in over 25 years. And just as he carved the air with his impossibly long arms and slender hands, Kowroski seemed to be following Balanchine’s path: taking in the details, noticing everything.

New York City Ballet

until October 17,

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