Magazine article Dance Magazine

New York City Ballet, New York State Theater, New York, New York, January 6-March 1, 1998

Magazine article Dance Magazine

New York City Ballet, New York State Theater, New York, New York, January 6-March 1, 1998

Article excerpt

NEW YORK STATE THEATER JANUARY 6-MARCH 1, 1998 REVIEWED BY ROBERT GRESKOVIC

New York City Ballet's 107th New York season spotlighted the thirtieth anniversary of Jewels, Balanchine's ground-breaking multiact "abstract" ballet. A seminar with isolated members of the original cast took place on the eve of the season. Among the tidbits offered was one about the ballet's now-familiar title. Apparently, Balanchine simply intended in April 1967 to present three new ballets, Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds; the overriding Jewels title came only after the first performance, when Clive Barnes's review noted that the singular evening of ballets could use a name.

To reinforce the Jewels celebration, the costumes were rebuilt and the season's publicity featured photos of Wendy Whelan and Philip Neal theatrically lighted and posed in moments from the "Diamonds" pas de deux. But Whelan didn't perform "Diamonds." She made her debut in "Rubies," and made less impact than she previously had made in "Diamonds." Though she was ably partnered by Nikolaj Hubbe, who shone in everything he danced all season, Whelan missed the role's silken sheen and smiling sass. Kyra Nichols, near full stride after her maternity leave, led "Diamonds" with nearly perfect majesty. In the season's very last Jewels, Miranda Weese performed her first "Rubies," and went into my own annals (twenty-eight years long) as the most thrilling and accomplished debut in this ballerina role since NYCB, women began following in the footsteps of the part's incomparable originator, Patricia McBride.

Weese also made a half-remarkable debut in the Violette Verdy role of "Emeralds," dancing the solo marvelously, but missing something in the pas de deux. Her partner, making his first appearance in "Emeralds," was the handsome and expert cavalier, Peter Hansen, who I hope one day to see dance the "Diamonds" cavalier--opposite Nichols, if I'm really lucky. In his "Diamonds" debut, Charles Askegard did well, but Hansen seems even better suited to the challenge. Now-we-see-her-now-we-don't Maria Kowroski made a shimmering debut in the Mimi Paul role of "Emeralds," then disappeared for the rest of the season due to injury. Though Monique Meunier was full of authority in her debut as the secondary ballerina in "Rubies," Michele Gifford and the radiant but unexpansive Aura Dixon were both out of their depth.

Compared to Balanchine's three "new ballets" from thirty years ago, this season's three new ballets appear less destined for longevity. Richard Tanner's Variations on a Nursery Song (to Ernst von Dohnanyi's music of the same name) featured the sublime Weese and semi-featured the noble Peter Boal; but its uncertain tone, toying with rather than glorying in the composition's witticisms about children's games and musical bombast, created a halfhearted mood. …

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