Three by Bach

The New York City Ballet salute to Bach on Saturday afternoon (6/16/07) at the NYS Theatre was as near to perfect as programming can get.

Entitled “Three by Bach,” it began with George Balanchine’s choreography of the Concerto Barocco, a neo-classical ballet that has no story line but needs nothing but the purely graceful dancing and uplifting Bach score.

This ballet was premiered in 1948 and it is still timeless in today’s contemporary style.

The first movement begins with two ballerinas who are joined later by a corps of eight women.  In the second movement, Danish principal dancer Nicolaj Hűbbe joins the leading woman in a pas de deux.  In the final section the ensemble gathers, expressing the ease it is to dance to such beautiful and peaceful music.  [Indeed, when the day and life get hectic, it is baroque music to which this reviewer prefers to turn.  As soothing as it is elegant, it calms the savage beast and makes it retreat for those few moments.] 

The second selection was choreographed by Christopher D’Amboise, a former NYC Ballet principal dancer, himself.  His “Tribute” (the title of the piece)  most certainly displays the influence of Balanchine’s work.  Balanchine’s neo-classical style is expanded on in this lovely piece of grace of movement.  For the uninitiated, I refer to the fast, intricate footwork;  the flowing arms;  and the stress on the female form.  Male dancers take a support role in this genre. 

Danced to various Bach selections for piano and orchestra, it displays romantic and athletic qualities, consistently highlighting Bach’s lively, enriching score.

The final selection:  “Brandenburg,”  was choreographer Jerome Robbins’s last ballet and one of his most compelling, set to excerpts of the famous Brandenburg Concerti.  The first pas de deux was delicate in style and then encompassed big gracious, flowing stage patterns for a sixteen member corps!  The 2nd pas de deux is more theatrical in nature highlighting the connection and separation of the two principal dancers.

The third section for eight corps dancers gave each a moment at center stage to stand out individually, making each of the supporting ballerinas a soloist for those short moments.

Ballet is uplifting no matter your taste, and the NYC Ballet is easily among the finest in the world.  And it is right here near your home, in Lincoln Center in the heart of Manhattan.  Surely some will prefer perennial favorites like “The Nutcracker,” and “Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky, but if you go, and I urge you to do so, you will come away with a great theatrical experience.