City Ballet: All Robbins

Notes on the All Robbins program, featuring Glass Pieces, Moves, and The Concert.

Glass Pieces: The first thing of note about this performance of the Jerome Robbins ballet was that New York City Ballet Orchestra's principal bassoonist, Harrison Hollingsworth, was the conductor. I don't know the Philip Glass pieces used in this ballet well enough to have noticed a difference in the way the score was played, but it sounded good to me!

Elsewhere in the ballet, I noticed that the pas de deux wonderfully mirrors the oboe (you see the music, as Mr. B would so often say); it's restrained, controlled, precise, just as Amar Ramasar and Rebecca Krohn's movements are. This wasn't the first time I'd seen them in the pas de deux, and they didn't disappoint. As for the choreography, I really like the way they enter and leave the stage, with the male partner carrying the female partner through the air. It's rather soft and graceful, juxtaposing it with the rest of the steps in their pas.

Throughout, I enjoyed taking note, especially in the third movement, of the dancers connecting with one another, taking a moment now and then to look into other dancers' eyes, taking a moment in the chaos for themselves. (This is ballet in which the dancers never stop moving.) As I always do, I found the relentlessness of the music and movement to be exhilarating. It leaves me breathless. (Below, Adrian Danchig-Waring and Georgina Pazcoguin talk about the athleticism of the ballet.)

Moves: I always like a change of pace, and Moves, a scoreless ballet, is that. It gets you into this meditative state, where you focus your mind. There aren't a million things to grab your attention so you hear the breath; you notice the sound of a hand catching an arm; and you notice the sound of a dancer landing after a leap. You notice the subtle movements, like a leg circling in the floor, or the way the foot flexes in step but lands in pointe. It's amazing what you can see and hear when there are no distractions.

At this performance, I liked the pas between principal Andrew Veyette, who I feel I haven't seen recently, and newly minted soloist, Unity Phelan. It begins as if he's a puppet master, discovering how this new creature works. It evolves, with them playing in the space together, they're testing their abilities. I was later impressed with soloist Gretchen Smith. I've noticed her dancing and confidence getting stronger over the years, and on Saturday afternoon, she appeared empowered, and really owned the performance. (Watch below as Jared Angle discusses how the dancers have to connect with one another without music to use as a guide.)

The Concert: This is an always-delightful ballet, a charade in one act, as the program states. Choreographer Robbins is quoted in the program as saying, "One of the pleasures of attending a concert is the freedom to lose oneself in listening to the music. Quite often, unconsciously, mental pictures and images form..." Robbins sends his dancers on lovely, often laugh-out-loud funny flights of fancy during a concert. (Music is by Frederic Chopin; onstage pianist: Elaine Chelton, who does her fair share of welcome mugging to the audience.) Leading the company was Lauren Lovette, giving only her second performance in this role. She was a delightful, playful happy-go-lucky concert goer. The impish Joaquin de Luz, who I've seen in this role before, seemed to relish the chance to be goofy on stage. The Concert is a wonderfully fun way to conclude a wonderfully fun afternoon at the ballet. (Sterling Hyltin, who is fabulous in the role, explains what the piece means to her.)