Sara Mearns in Walpurgisnacht Ballet.  Photo Paul Kolnik

Sara Mearns in Walpurgisnacht Ballet.
Photo Paul Kolnik

New York City Ballet:
Walpurgisnacht Ballet, Sonatine, La Valse, Symphony in C

David Koch Theater, New York, NY; May 10, 2015 (m)

Colleen Boresta

On May 10th New York City Ballet gave mothers the special Mothers’ Day treat of an all-Balanchine program.

George Balanchine’s Walpurgisnacht Ballet, to music from Gounod’s opera Faust, is very different to the Bolshoi’s ballet of the same title. There are no nymphs or satyrs leaping to great heights here, and there is not even a hint of a storyline. It is still, however, a splendid ballet.

The heart of NYCB’s Walpurgisnacht is the ravishing ballerina, on this afternoon, Sara Mearns. Her dancing was totally free of any restraint. Near the ballet’s conclusion she flew across the stage faster than the speed of light before throwing herself into her partner’s (Ask la Cour) arms with
absolute abandon.

La Cour was a wonderfully attentive partner, but I found his solo dancing to be somewhat bland. He may be 6’5”, but he never commanded my attention on stage.

Although new to the role of the second ballerina, corps member Alexa Maxwell impressed with her lovely lightness and crystalline delicacy. I hope to see her dance many more solo roles in the future.

Sonatine is a slight, pretty work set to music by Maurice Ravel. It was well danced by both Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz, although not much goes on in the piece. Sonatine is very short work, but seems long, with the piano music and the choreography rather repetitious.

La Valse is the story of a young debutante at a ball who is transfixed by the figure of Death. Appropriately, the music was composed by Maurice Ravel on the eve of World War I. Both Ravel’s score and Balanchine’s choreography capture the frenzy and madness of that period in Western Europe. After being enticed by Death the young girl in white whirls with him faster and faster until he ends her life.

Sterling Hyltin was a revelation as the young debutante in a strongly danced and especially strongly acted performance. She showed clearly the struggle of one seduced by Death against her will. There seemed to be an element of greed in her young girl’s fascination with Death; she was very happy to receive from him a black necklace, gloves, dress and bouquet.

As the young girl’s lover, Jared Angle’s dancing was rich with anguish and loss. Angle’s acting has really improved in the last few years; and although he is only on the stage for a short period of time, Amar Ramasar’s Death was mesmerizing. I could understand why Hyltin’s character was so drawn to him.

The Mothers’ Day matinee ended with that most glorious of Balanchine’s white ballets, Symphony in C, choreographed to the music of Georges Bizet in 1947. Each of the four sections is led by a ballerina, a premiere danseur and the corps de ballet

In the first movement, Allegro Viva, Ashley Bouder stood out for her sparkling footwork and wonderful musicality. Bouder’s body is the perfect vessel for Bizet’s magnificent music. Her partner, Andrew Veyette, impressed with the elevation of his leaps and breakneck speed of his turns.

In the Adagio, Maria Kowroski captivated the audience with her splendid arabesques penchée. The suppleness of both her lines and her long, lyrical extensions brought tears to my eyes. Tyler Angle’s flawless partnering showed off Kowroski’s dancing perfectly.

In the Allegro Vivace, Erica Pereira matched Antonio Carmena leap for leap and blazing fast turn for blazing fast turn. The couple danced with such joy that they brought a big smile to my face.

Brittany Pollack was very strong in the last movement. Her turns could be a bit more precise but overall it was a good performance. As Pollack’s partner, Taylor Stanley danced with ease and panache.