14 May, 2011

Dance Review: NYC Ballet - Balanchine

pic from City Ballet: Agon

Dance Review: NYC Ballet - Balanchine

May 10, 2011, NY State Theater
NYC Ballet-Balanchine

Aside from my fondness of the particular blend of classicism and modernism of Balanchine, I am attracted to his ballets because they use quality music, many of them collaborations with contemporary composers at the time of inception of both the ballet and the music. In terms of understanding of classical music as applied to dance, I feel Balanchine shall never be surpassed.

This program, as others in the series, focuses on the so-called "Black-and White" ballets of the master. First up was the comforting Square Dance, an infusion of classic modernism into American folk dance, danced to the archaic music of Vivaldi and Corelli. The orchestra was excellent; concertmaster is Arturo Delmoni, long familiar to hifi fans, who presumably was the capable soloist in the many solo passages. The conducting by Ryan McAdams seemed more safe than inspired, but perhaps there was little to do in this music.

Both the dance and the music-making reached a very much higher level with Stravinsky's Agon. The orchestra was beautiful in timber and precise in ensemble under the baton of music director Faycal Karoui. The dances were breathtakingly sophisticated (which made the previous program seemed plain), and one felt the dancers' arms and legs breathed together with the music and all became one. Here, the music enhanced the dance, and vice versa.

I was a little less taken with the last piece, Episodes, based on the music of Webern. It was not as beautiful, as inspired and as coherent as Agon, but the music-making was first rate under the baton of the diminutive female conductor Clotilde Otranto, who apparently is a fave with the audience.

What can be better than listening to first-rate music while watching sublime dancing?

NY Times review

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