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New York City Ballet - January 9th Performance

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Program: "Concerto Barocco" (Balanchine/Bach); "Valse Fantasie" (Balanchine/Glinka); "The Waltz Project" (Martins/various composers); and "Vienna Waltzes" (Balanchine/Johann Strauss, Franz Lehar, Richard Strauss).

"Concerto Barocco" and "Valse Fantasie" have already been reviewed (and quite well) by E Johnson. With regard to "Concerto Barocco" I just want to add that Wendy Whelan gets better every time I see her. I think she's definitely NYCB's best ballerina right now. And I was really disappointed by Yvonne Borree in "Valse Fantasie". I've seen her much better in other performances. She was really off in the January 9th performance of

"Valse Fantasie." Where she should have been dancing with light, whirling steps (as mentioned in E Johnson's review,) she was stiff and didn't seem to finish anything she started. I was impressed by Millepied though. I think he shows a lot of promise.

"The Waltz Project" is one of Peter Martins' more interesting ballets. At first I wasn't too impressed, but the more I watched it, the better I liked it. There didn't seem to be any theme to this ballet, just dancers waltzing to comtemporary piano music. These waltzes were very well danced by Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard, Deanna McBreaty and James Fayette, Jennie Somogyi and Albert Evans, and Helene Alexopoulos and

Philip Neal.

The highlight of the afternoon for me was Balanchine's "Vienna Waltzes" (one of my favorite ballets), a series of sumptuous waltzes (and one polka) set to music by Johann Strauss, Franz Lehar, and Richard Strauss. Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard danced well in the "Tales from the Vienna Woods" section. Margaret Tracey was very light and buoyant in the "Voices of Spring" section, but I was a bit disappointed in her partner, Nikolaj Hubbe. I'm used to seeing Damian Woetzel dance to "Voices of Spring", and Hubbe's leaps were much lower than Woetzel's. I did read that ever since Hubbe was injured a couple of years ago, he can no longer jump the way he once did. That being the case, perhaps it would be better if he weren't cast in ballet roles which make his diminished powers so obvious.

Kathleen Tracey and Kipling Houston were very funny in "The Explosions Polka" section. Helene Alexopoulos was an alluring lady of mystery in the Silver and Gold waltz from "The Merry Widow", but Nilas Martins was undistinguished as the gentleman from her past. As a matter of fact I have never seen anyone do justice to this role since Peter Martins stopped dancing it in the early 1980's.

The last section - set to Richard Strauss' waltz from "The Rosenkavlier" was beautifully danced, and the costumes and scenery were gorgeous. I felt, however, that Darci Kistler was not up to the leading role in this section. In my opinion, this is a grand ballerina role - one performed wonderfully by Suzanne Farrell, Stephanie Saland and Kyra Nicholas. They were all great ballerinas who, with just the wave of an arm, could convey a whole world of meaning. And as one of my friends (who was at the same performance) mentioned Kistler's dancing has been too guarded ever since she was injured for the second time. It seems that she's so worried about reinjuring herself that she no longer takes any risks.

But, all in all, it was a good afternoon at the ballet. It was nice seeing the orchestra back and they played very well.

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