Reviews from NYCB’s Kennedy Center performances that wrapped up Sunday:
Curmudgeons grumble that the ballets are not performed so well now as when they were first made. But even seasoned ballet-goers cannot help but revel in NYCB’s dancing of “20th Century Classics”. It is hard to imagine another troupe today that could manage the same precise suppleness and athleticism. The dances require an ability to move lightning fast or achingly slow with impeccable musical timing. The School of American Ballet, which Balanchine founded in 1934 to teach his sensibilities, still supplies NYCB with almost all its roster. The cohesive artistry that comes from this is apparent.
Agon: At New York City Ballet’s performance Tuesday at the Kennedy Center Opera House, the precariousness was not an artistic atmosphere; it was a destabilizing presence. The work did not go smoothly, but it wasn’t only the slips and partnering mishaps that confirmed this. Connections among the dancers seemed uneasy.
Within this slow, quiet experimentation, any miscues and uncertainties are perceptible. Maria Kowroski and Amar Ramasar looked as if they needed more time in the studio together; theirs was not a pairing that inspired trust. You could see it in the way she looked at him, and in the way she didn’t.
“Serenade” and “Symphony in C” were better served — each was radiant, in fact. “Symphony in C,” however, radiated too much, with its Swarovski-crystal-encrusted costumes designed with great fanfare by Marc Happel in 2012. The sparkly effect was striking at first, but then I found it distracting. Reflected light seemed to jump all over the place, assaulting the eye when I wanted to savor the dancing.
Powerhouse. That’s the word that came to mind after I saw New York City Ballet’s program of 21st-century works at the Kennedy Center Opera House on Wednesday night. Personality, warmth, style: Those qualities burst out of the dances by Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon and Justin Peck. Add the elegance of the previous night’s Balanchine program, which alternates with this one, and you have a ballet company whose arsenal of talent and art is unlike any other.
Ratmansky and Peck bring out the best in these dancers, revealing their remarkable individual personalities, as did Balanchine and Robbins before them. The company’s Kennedy Center programming amply illustrates the twin challenges of cultivating new choreographers, and ensuring that the classics of the 20th century remain shipshape — a task that falls to the generation of coaches who once danced for Balanchine and Robbins.