New York City Ballet Balanchine/Robbins and Jewels

I saw Balanchine and Robbins: Masters at Work Saturday evening for the second time (here is my first review from January 26). The second time around, the informal nature of the piece struck home. For example, Adrian Danchig-Waring dances with Maria Kowroski and then runs off stage. Maria is confused, looks for him, and continues her solo. Baffled Adrian’s absence at the end of her solo, she shrugs her shoulders, smiles, and holds up her hands as if to say “Oh well” and runs off stage. In another section, Joaquin De Luz wipes his brow after a strenuous dance segment.

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Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz. Click for more photos.

I also liked Tyler Angle’s solo in which he performed double tours in both directions to a deep plié, almost grand. Tiler Peck, as the girl in pink, was energetic and added a joyful touch throughout.

In Union Jack, I enjoyed the high-stepping MacDonald of Sleat dance led by Sara Mearns to a drumbeat. At the end of the Costermonger dance with the Pearly King and Queen (Jenifer Ringer and Amar Ramasar) the donkeys did what donkeys sometimes do and the curtain unexpectedly closed so the mess could be cleaned up. The Royal Navy segment was festive and fast-moving, similar to a Broadway show.

The company presented the 1967 classic Jewels on Thursday evening. The idea for the ballet originated in Europe in the 1950s when Claude Arpels of the jewelry firm Van Cleef & Arpels suggested it to Balanchine, according to John Gruen’s The World’s Great Ballets. Later in the 1960s, Balanchine decided to choreograph a ballet with dancers dressed as jewels. The result is a full-length three act plotless ballet, with music from three composers.

The first section is Emeralds, set to music by Gabriel Urbain Fauré. Balanchine considered Emeralds “an evocation of France — the France of elegance, comfort, dress, perfume,” set to 19th century dances of the Romantic era. The leads Thursday evening were Tiler Peck/Amar Ramasar and Abi Stafford/Adrian Danchig-Waring. I thought the dancing was fine with Amar and Adrian as noble and graceful cavaliers; Tiler and Abi’s arms flowed like a swimmer with the music. However, Romantic era ballets in general are not my favorites as I think they are rather dull.

The second piece, Rubies, is my favorite jewel. The opening of the curtain reveals a dramatic and stark black and red backdrop with dancers in red. Ashley Bouder and Gonzalo Garcia were the leads. Ashley’s aggressive all-out style fits this role well and she was in fine form Thursday. I liked Ashley’s phrasing as she lightly tapped the floor after an massive grand battement. Gonzalo proved to be a fine complement to Ashley.The piece, set to Stravinsky’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra, features movements not usually seen in ballet such as quirky shoulder moves, flexed feet while standing in second position, jump rope movements, and exaggerated running steps throughout the piece.

Diamond’s is the third piece, set to Tchaikovsky’s Third Symphony and is inspired by Imperial Russia and the Maryinsky Theater, where Balanchine was trained. Sara Mearns and Zachary Catazaro were the leads. Sara’s musicality stands out in this piece with the various changes in tempo throughout the piece. Zachary is a corps member getting cast in some lead roles recently. He danced the regal, Nutcracker type solos well and complemented Sara throughout, although in some of the partnering segments he was a bit tense and stiff.