Monday, May 20, 2013

NYCB Has a Delightful and Democratic 'American Season'

Dancers in Peter Martins' "Thou Swell." Photos by Paul Kolnik.

BY TAMARA BECK

BALLET
as an artform adheres to strict rules of movement and occasionally arcane terminology to describe its steps.

However, be assured that not knowing a tendu from an arabesque won’t diminish the pleasure of watching the athleticism and glory of the dance.

Programming at the New York City Ballet ranges from the strictly classical to the completely jazzed and lots in between. A recent afternoon offered a perfect example when NYCB, at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, undertook dances set to music by Richard Rodgers. In this “American Season,” NYCB seeks to be utterly accessible to fans and neophytes alike.

Ballroom meets ballet in Peter Martins’ “Thou Swell,” a perennial favorite that premiered in January 2003 and that will not be in the repertory in the near future. Whenever it does resurface, this reviewer’s advice is to go see it. In it, PM has found his groove. It is romantic and wistful.

Set in a nightclub, where four couples come to spend the evening, “Thou Swell” is dazzling, featuring guest singers Chloe and Joe Paparella, the lyrics of Lorenz Hart, strategically placed mirrors (scenery by Robin Wagner) and a lovely young chorus of waitresses and waiters.

Some men are made to wear a cummerbund, and Robert Fairchild is decidedly one of them. Not that anyone in this cast – women in resplendent gowns and men in tuxedos – isn’t picture perfect. No one has more fun than Amar Ramasar whose date is Jenifer Ringer, playing a sexy femme fatale. The sumptuous costumes designed by Julius Lumsden, complete the elegant ambience of PM’s best work.

The Company in Christopher Wheeldon's "Carousel (A Dance)."

On the other hand, Christopher Wheeldon’s “Carousel (A Dance)” is reappearing on the schedule for two performances on Saturday (25 May) as part of programming NYCB is labeling “A Tribute To Broadway.”

As the curtain rises there’s a stage full of Julie Jordans and Billy Bigelows, the girls hopeful, the men’s roughness softened into tender waltzing. “Carousel (A Dance),” which premiered in 2002, is inspired by RR and Oscar Hammerstein II’s musical, “Carousel.”

Early on in this classic melodrama, based on Ferenc Moln├ír's 1909 play “Liliom,” it’s clear that Billy (danced by Andrew Veyette) is trouble. Julie (Tiler Peck) is smitten. AV and TP perform their parts poignantly. A genuine high-point of “Carousel (A Dance)” is when the troupe become the carousel, spinning under a spray of lights. It’s really quite flawless, more like a tribute than an interpretation.

Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle in George Balanchine's "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue."

Last on the program of dance set to RR’s scores is “Slaughter On Tenth Avenue,” scheduled to again appear in the NYCB repertory in October. Those unaccustomed to ballet and George Balanchine, will be surprised at the humor and hijinks.

Ballet that’s both simple and utterly profound is a complete joy.

Visit http://www.nycballet.com/ to learn more about the New York City Ballet. Rx

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