NYC BALLET CORTEGE HONGROIS, CAGE
January 27, 2015
I’m experiencing a wave of dance nationalism in a week of embarrassing ballet riches. New York City is host to Russia’s premiere dance company, the Mariinsky at BAM and NYC ballet at Lincoln Center. The Americans no longer look to France or Russia as exemplars of superb classical dance because many of the best are right here in New York City.
The first week of programming at New York City Ballet featured works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Peter Martins.
Dancers in alluring Russian folk-style dresses by Santo Loquasto eased on stage in Peter Martins’ Symphonic Dances to the lush music of Sergei Rachmaninoff.
Both Sterling Hyltin and her partner Andrew Veyette draw gracious, plucky performances out of their featured duets. Arms swing forward and one-legged hops suggest folklore roots tipped in ballet. A strong corps of stormy dancers, particularly Harrison Ball, surrounds the lead couple making the tension between the lead couple and corps most satisfying.
Angular forms strike staccato rhythms in Jerome Robbins’ scary dance “The Cage.” Lauren Lovette’s petit form erupts in venomous force out of a female corps sporting Don King style electrified hair. Her thin limbs snap in and out
hands shake tension out until she spies a male intruder, Craig Hall, and chokes his head between her thighs. Created in 1951, Robbins’ choreography suggests Martha Graham’s use of torso contractions, hyper extended backs and hellacious women.
A sweet, but choreographically inconsequential “Andantino” by Robbins proves Tyler Peck’s panache and over achieving commitment can raise the quality of any choreography.
But in the end, the dancers in Cortege Hongois swoop on stage exhibiting the company’s excellent ballet chops. Choreographed by George Balanchine as tribute to Melissa Hayden in 1973, the pomp and circumstance of this piece thrills with its nod to the 19th century Eastern European courtly splendors and folk traditions.
Partnered by a solid Tyler Angle, Sara Mearns commands her space shooting her energy far beyond the perimeters of the theater. Proud of bearing, Mearns communicates the music’s plush melodies and grandeur in the snap of a wrist or the upward tilt of her chin. It sends chills up the audience’s collective spine to see someone so immersed inside a dance. Another impressive performer, Georgina Pazcoguin flings her head back over a deeply arched back almost shouting with glee in the colorful czardas section. The New York City Ballet dancers honored the choreography of Balanchine, Robbins and Martins.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis