Jerome Robbins


The Young and Young at Heart: Jerome Robbins’ “Fancy Free” at the American Ballet Theater

As part of ABT’s Women’s Movement, an ongoing initiative to support the creation, exploration and staging of new works by female choreographers, the first ballet of this matinee performance was Le Jeune, choreographed by Lauren Lovette. Ten dancers from the ABT apprentice group and the ABT Studio Company danced the ten-minute long work displaying some of their considerable abilities. The arabesques, turns and lifts were lovely if not inspiring, as were the young performers. However, the music, Equus by Eric Whitacre, is awful—bombastic with many switches of rhythm that go nowhere. Lovette is credited with “costume concept” which sounds like she thought of dressing the women in pink with belts and the boys in black—again, perfectly fine but hardly revolutionary. Still, the dancers were lively, energetic and full of promise.

New York Theater Ballet REP at Florence Gould Hall, April 27, 2018: A Centennial Bow to Jerome Robbins

New York Theater Ballet aims to reexamine classics with a fresh, contemporary look. In this case, most of the evening was a celebration of Jerome Robbins’ Centennial showcasing Septet, Rondo and Concertino. Both Septet and Concertino are performed to music by Stravinsky; the former to Reduction for Two Pianos and the latter to Concerto for String Quartet and Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo. All three ballets are plotless and were danced in simple, unadorned costumes on a bare stage. Florence Gould Hall is small so the audience is close to the dancers and exposed to the bare bones of performing including rosin squeaks and sometimes heavy landings although Steven Melendez managed to make his light, a fine achievement for a good-sized, athletic man.

Balanchine’s Allegro Brilliante and Stravinsky Violin Concerto and Robbins’ Cage and Andantino at the New York City Ballet

The style of the New York City Ballet is almost tree-like, branching and spreading in a floral rather than faunal manner, achieving a harmonious whole that is not purely rational or classical or athletic or anything covered by a single label. Their pure and natural variety of grace certainly suits Balanchine’s choreography, bringing out its best qualities. Allegro Brilliante, as the title might suggest, opens with style and grace, there is a certain abstraction with this stylish dancing before a plain blue screen and following no definite plot or action. We have Tchaikovsky’s music speaking to us very eloquently through Clotilde Otranto’s baton and Elaine Chelton’s fingers, music with fairly strong and definite, but not heavy, emotions. The costumes, the women’s light dresses in gentle hues and secondary colors and the men’s loose sleeves and waistcoats, do not place them absolutely as characters, but are enough to complement simply the movements. Yet there is a sense of a social entity, of mute social forces at work, drowned out by the music perhaps, and even a suggestion of court in the group scenes in their almost 17th Century style of abstraction, as they blur the lines slightly between social and theatrical dancing; the interactions of the dancers on stage are absorbing and interesting, brought across by their dramatic sense, their sense of theatre. The dancing doesn’t borrow openly from any real historical form but somehow the push and pull of social dancing is suggested. The piece at least gives the feeling of being indoors. Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette dancing the leads give a particularly strong sense of conversation in their dancing together in the pas de deux and also amongst the larger group. Nothing happens, the ballet remains abstract, yet it develops in an arc into something very moving and ineffable beyond the music, as if the entire piece, developed into a whole wishes to give something to you, and the performance succeeded in this and the lack of downrightness was very refreshing.
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