Teresa Reichlen in George Balanchine's Rubies from Jewels,
New York City Ballet (photo by Paul Kolnik)
The music of each act reflects those orientations, beginning with two refined scores of incidental music by Gabriel Fauré, for Maeterlinck's Pelléas et Mélisande (also heard on Sunday night from the Israel Philharmonic) and Shylock, Edmond Haraucourt's reworking of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. Neither story appears in any appreciable way in the choreography, but with Balanchine, as with all gifted choreographers, the music was his guide. The horn call of the first movement summons the corps de ballet into a diagonal line; the spinning movement features a ballerina making many turns; arms tick-tocked, clock-like, with gently pulsed repeated notes; each phrase or surge or motif is matched with an evocative movement. Both of these scores are diaphanous wonders -- movements from Shylock are inserted between the third and fourth movements of Pelléas, the last of which ends the act -- and the company's interim music director Andrews Sill led a capable, if not yet perfectly polished performance by the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra. Unlike their visit last spring, the company's resident orchestra did not accompany them. One could sense at times a tug of war between conductor and musicians, as in that gorgeous flute solo of the third movement of Pelléas, which needed to go a little faster than the orchestra seemed to want.
G. Balanchine, Jewels, Paris Opera Ballet, A. Dupont, A. Carbone, M.-A. Gillot, A. Letestu (Opus Arte, 2006)
G. Balanchine, Jewels, Mariinsky Ballet, U. Lopatkina, I. Zelensky, I. Golub
Stravinsky's Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra inspired the jazz-age neoclassicism of the middle act, Rubies, with its flapper gestures, tango-like pairings, and high-stepping enthusiasm. The local orchestra felt most tentative in this challenging and unfamiliar music, fortunately anchored on the authoritative keyboard solo work of Cameron Grant, pianist of the NYC Ballet Orchestra. Teresa Reichlen, who hails from Fairfax County, was a sensation in the solo role here, her long legs and body kicked and lifted into expressive shapes. Her dances with four men, who grasp her by the wrists and heels in ways that suggest control or puppetry, were particularly striking, if at times disturbing.
Sarah Kaufman, At Kennedy Center, New York City Ballet reminds us why we watch dance (Washington Post, April 4)
---, Ballet ‘Jewels’ still a gem, but it’s lost some luster (Washington Post, April 3)
---, Choreographer Justin Peck’s unprecedented success with New York City Ballet (Washington Post, March 29)
Alastair Macaulay, Still Revealing New Facets, After Sparkling for Half a Century (New York Times, January 23)
This performance will be repeated, with differing casts, on April 4 to 6, in the Kennedy Center Opera House.