David H. Koch Theater, New York, NY; June 9(m), 2013.
New York City Ballet ended their 2012-2013 season with a ballet from each of the three composers honored this year: “Serenade” with music from the Tschaikovsky Festival, “Stravinsky Violin Concerto” from the Stravinsky Festival and “Stars and Stripes” from the American Music Festival. All three works were, of course, choreographed by George Balanchine.
“Serenade” was the first ballet Balanchine made in the United States. It is as moving as ever, starting with those 17 girls in blue raising their right arms to the moonlight. It may not be a story ballet but Balanchine discovered the passion, mystery and drama in the Tschaikovsky music.
As the waltz girl, Sara Mearns was so hauntingly beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes. She loves and loses two men and at the end is raised into the air and carried off the stage by three men. Has she died? Is she being taken to heaven? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. Great art can be construed in many different ways.
Dancing the other main roles were Megan Fairchild as the Russian girl and Teresa Reichlen as the ‘dark angel.’ Fairchild stood out for her quicksilver footwork, but her jumps lacked height. Reichlen brought grandeur to her role. Her extensions were glorious and her arabesques looked like they could go on forever. The corps dancers, whose movements are somewhat evocative of the wills in “Giselle,” were flawless.
“Stravinsky Violin Concerto” is divided into four sections: the Toccata which introduces the dancers, Aria I and Aria II, which are both pas de deux for the principal dancers, and the finale Capriccio.
Aria I, is very athletic and acrobatic. Maria Kowroski stood out for her amazing back bends. Her partner, Amar Ramasar, performed with exuberance and wit. Aria II, has a frail feeling about it. It was danced by the delicately petite Janie Taylor and the much taller Ask la Cour. It ends with the man holding his hand over the woman’s eyes and bending her head back; a beautiful moment.
The last ballet of New York City Ballet’s 2012-2013 season was one of my very favorites, “Stars and Stripes.” It is divided into five campaigns, each to the music of John Philip Sousa adapted and orchestrated by Hershy Kay. The first two sections to “Corcoran Cadets” and “Rifle Regiment” are danced by female corps members led by a female soloist. The third, “Thunder and Gladiator” is performed by the men in the corps de ballet with a male soloist as their leader. All the corps members impressed with their perfectly synchronized dancing to the composer’s stirring marches.
Both female soloists (Erica Pereira and Savannah Lowery) were very good, but Daniel Ulbricht is beyond compare as the head of the men’s regiment. His leaps and turns were thrilling as thrilling as ever. But as much as I love him in this role, I would like to see him dance the part of El Capitan. He is a principal dancer and it’s long past time for him to dance principal roles.
The El Capitan here, Andrew Veyette, was absolutely sensational, though, as was Ashley Bouder as Liberty Bell. Bouder stood out for the way she holds her balances and her scissor leaps. I love the way she plays with the music and has so much fun dancing the role. Veyette was all great leaps and spinning turns. I always enjoy his bouncy steps that highlight his unbelievable ballon. Both performed their solos at the fastest speed I have ever seen. Lesser dancers would have crashed and burned, but they handled every move with aplomb.
The last campaign is danced by the entire company to “Stars and Stripes Forever.” At the ballet’s conclusion, as the American flag rolls down the entire back stage of the David H. Koch Theatre, I found my eyes welling with tears as usual. The applause was thunderous. What a fantastic way to end New York City Ballet’s 2012-2013 season.