Double Feature – New York City Ballet

May 25, 2012

in Dance

Double Feature

New York City Ballet
The David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center, New York, NY

The Blue Necklace
Music by Irving Berlin

With Maria Kowroski (Dorothy Brooks), Christian Tworzyanski (Mr. Griffith), Savannah Lowery (Mrs. Griffith), Call Reiff (Young Mabel), Lily Cosgrove (Young Florence), Ashley Bouder (Mabel), Megan Fairchild (Florence), Tyler Angle (Billy Randolph)

Makin’ Whoopee!
Music by Walter Donaldson

With Joaquin De Luz (Jimmie Shannon), Tiler Peck (Anne Windsor), Amar Ransar (Joe Doherty), Andrew Veyette (Edward Meekin),

Choreography: Susan Stroman
Conductor: Clotilde Otranto

in "The Blue Necklace"

Maria Kowroski and Ashley Bouder
in The Blue Necklace
Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy of New York City Ballet

A pair of ballets inspired by silent film genres, realized by the great Broadway director-choreographer Susan Stroman.

 

What a terrific and entertaining evening.

Both pieces of this double feature are based on silent movie themes.

The first, The Blue Necklace, is a tender Cinderella melodrama about a young dancer who gives up her baby daughter for adoption. The baby is taken in by a kind man who is married to a vixen. The man dies and the vixen raises the girl alongside her own daughter, enslaving and mistreating the adoptee.

In the meantime, the young dancer who gave up the baby has become a famous movie star and puts out a notice requesting information about her lost daughter. The vixen tries to pass over her birth daughter, who is not a gifted dancer – quite the opposite – as the long lost dancer’s daughter, in hopes of gaining riches and rewards. But the Cinderella child manages to unlock herself from the apartment where she is entrapped and proves her true inheritance to the dancer movie star. All comes out ok in the end.

What a great combination of ballet and showbiz this is.

Two dancers play Mabel, the Cinderella figure. Callie Reiff, who plays the child version, must be only eleven or twelve. She is just amazing. She has a substantial solo and pulls it off flawlessly and with incredible grace. Ashley Bouder, as the older Mabel, is also wonderful, capturing a sprightliness that was palpable.

Maria Kowroski, as the movie star mother, had a regal grace that complements beautifully the dancers in the younger roles.

Cinderella Label

Stroman’s choreography is fascinating, surely making use of a lot of balletic maneuvers, but, as well, giving a healthy and fun dimension of theatricality to the whole enterprise.

Megan Fairchild as Florence, the hapless birth daughter of the vixen stepmother, is famously hooftied in her character’s comedic attempts at dance. Paired with Tyler Angle as the heartthrob, Billy Randolph, she can do no more than flop around in dizzyingly inane ways. It is pathetically delightful and Fairchild pulls off the thankless task wonderfully.

Joaquin de Luz in "Makin' Whoopee!"

Joaquin de Luz in Makin’ Whoopee!
Photo courtesy of New York City Ballet

Makin’ Whoopie! is a takeoff on a Buster Keaton theme with Joaquin de Luz as the Keaton-type character. His lithe grace combines with a kind of shuffling hesitancy to create a potent and heartfelt combination. Again, Stroman’s choreography has a Busby Berkeley everything-going-on-all-at-once energy while, at the same time, preserving a balletic integrity to each of the movements.

How nice to have such a convincing combination of classical technique and showbiz. It is superbly wrought, carefully tuned, and wonderfully entertaining.

– BADMan

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