NYCB: CONCERTO BAROCCO: KAMMERMUSIK NO. 2: WHO CARES?
January 21, 2014
On a night when the city went into a snowy deep freeze slumber, NYC Ballet opened its season with three brightly etched pieces depicting the many different moods of George Balanchine.
A modern ballet tightly wrapped around its score, Concerto Barocco is a beauty. The almost all female cast is dressed in white tunics over leotards and tights. They join hands twisting and arching under arms in daisy chains that stretch out into double lines. To underscore the dominant melody, the principals, a soulful Sarah Mearns and lanky Maria Kowroski, swing legs up and down, and drop into deep lunges before whisking around and each other in counter-point. The sole man, Tyler Angle arrives about 1/3 of the way onto the ballet, but he is primarily relegated to lifting Kowroski in lateral lifts from one point in space to another.
Because of her profound musicality and extravagant lyricism, Mearns spreads her movements amply across Bach's Concerto in D minor for Two Violins. Although even in height, Mearns and Kowroski are unevenly matched in execution, with Mearns surging through the score and Kowroski uneasily stepping over the notes.
Crisply quirky, Kammermusik No. 2 switches gears corralling a male corps behind two perky pony-tailed girls, Rebecca Krohn and Abi Stafford. The men execute jagged steps, flexed feet while hunched over, arms stretched out to the sides, elbows bent upwards resembling Horton modern dance technique. In bounding steps, the ladies prance, knees lifting high and spring from one step to another. At times the men pulled together into what a postmodern football huddle, breaking apart into jazzy springs off the ground. Ms. Krohn and Ms. Stafford slipped easily through their spins and pops, ably supported by Jared Angle and an increasingly strong contender, Amar Ramasar.
Evening festivities ended on champagne high with “Who cares?”
Hershey Kay’s chart-topping American songbook selections form the ballet's spine. Dancers in brightly colored, I mean really bright, costumes carousel through the romantic ballads and upbeat songs course in front of a tipsy outline of the NYC skyline. A strong cast flicks off difficult combinations with fervent good nature.
But the highpoint arrived when Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild embraced the music and each other. Both are consummate performers, both know how to underscore the beat and excavate essence of phrase. In “Fascinatin’ Rhythm” Peck radiates confidence while knocking out one-leg balances and lines of turns into daring mid step pauses and breathless leaps. Warmed to the bone, the audience shuffled back out into the brittle night.