Entertainment » Theatre

New York City Ballet’s Spring Season

by Jonathan Leaf
Contributor
Sunday May 6, 2012
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"Serenade", one of the ballets featured in the New York City Ballet’s Spring Season
"Serenade", one of the ballets featured in the New York City Ballet’s Spring Season  (Source:Paul Kolnik)

George Balanchine once said that it was a lie that dancers worked just as hard as policemen, being always alert and always tense. Balanchine rejected the analogy because he said, "Policemen don’t have to look beautiful at the same time."

I thought about this remark on the second night of the New York City Ballet Spring Season, featuring an evening of four of his works. Great as my admiration is for those who have the unenviable duty of protecting our city from the barbarians in our midst, I couldn’t immediately dismiss the legendary choreographer’s take.

The four pieces provided a welcome and varied sampling. Included were two set to Tchaikovsky with one to Hindemith and one to Stravinksy.

All were repertory staples, and only the Hindemith isn’t a perfect delight. It was like eating a meal of chocolate mousse, soon after followed by a tarte tatin and panacotta.

Or perhaps I should say that it tasted so rich and delicious as performed by a number of the best of the company’s talented and proficient young stars.

In a hundred nights of watching the demanding virtuoso showpiece, Tchaikovsky’s "Pas de Deux", you will not see it danced more flawlessly than it was by Tiler Peck and Joaquin de Luz.

I don’t think it’s a secret that City Ballet went through some rough times during its initial period under current Balletmaster-in-Chief Peter Martins. As many noted, the company held onto its past stars for too long, and it failed with many of the new ballets it introduced.

Thankfully, those days of trial are behind it. That was made especially clear during the third of the four pieces, Tchaikovsky’s "Pas de Deux". In a hundred nights of watching this demanding virtuoso showpiece, you will not see it danced more flawlessly than it was by Tiler Peck and Joaquin de Luz. De Luz landed difficult jump after difficult jump while Peck flew gracefully across the stage.

Equally delightful was Maria Kowrowski in the titular part of the Firebird in the evening’s concluding piece. Garbed in Chagall’s brilliant red costume and surrounded by his colorful panels which playfully depict an imaginary realm of villages filled with churches with brightly-painted, onion-shaped domes and charming, furry monsters who come out at night, Kowrowski was properly winsome and otherwordly.

The pieces chosen, among which were also the romantic "Serenade" and the chilly, modernist "Kammermusik No. 2," first appeared over a more than four decade stretch from 1935 through 1978.

These were great times, of course, for the company. But, as it showed on Wednesday, so are these.

New York City Ballet’s Spring Season continues through June 10 at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincon Center. For more information visit the New York City Ballet website.

Jonathan Leaf is a playwright and journalist living in New York.

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