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Fearful Symmetries at New York City Ballet

10/01/11 David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza (Columbus Ave. at 63rd St.) Map
212-721-6500
nycballet.com Ages: All Ages
Jewels at New York City Ballet
10/01/11 David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza (Columbus Ave. at 63rd St.) Map
212-721-6500
nycballet.com Ages: All Ages
Mercurial Manoeuvres at New York City Ballet
10/01/11 David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza (Columbus Ave. at 63rd St.) Map
212-721-6500
nycballet.com Ages: All Ages

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Fearful Symmetries is a ballet for two principal couples, a soloist couple, three corps men, six corps women, and four corps couples. It is the second work Peter Martins has choreographed to the music of John Adams. A large, complex ballet bathed in dramatic and ever-changing hues of red and blue created by Mark Stanley, it matches the music's racing pulse in striking combination. John Adams (b. 1947) grew up in New England and studied at Harvard with Leon Kirchner and Roger Sessions. He lives in San Francisco where he is music adviser to the San Francisco Symphony and a faculty member at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Influenced by John Cage and Steve Reich, Mr. Adams' music is both electronic and instrumental, and is known for its combination of minimalism and romanticism.

Jewels is unique: a full-length, three-act plotless ballet that uses the music of three very different composers. Balanchine was inspired by the artistry of jewelry designer Claude Arpels, and chose music revealing the essence of each jewel. He explained: "Of course, I have always liked jewels; after all, I am an Oriental, from Georgia in the Caucasus. I like the color of gems, the beauty of stones, and it was wonderful to see how our costume workshop, under Karinska's direction, came so close to the quality of real stones (which were of course too heavy for the dancers to wear!)." Each section of the ballet is distinct in both music and mood. Emeralds, which Balanchine considered "an evocation of France — the France of elegance, comfort, dress, [and] perfume," recalls the 19th century dances of the French Romantics. Rubies is crisp and witty, epitomizing the collaboration of Stravinsky and Balanchine.Diamonds recalls the order and grandeur of Imperial Russia and the Maryinsky Theater, where Balanchine was trained. Mary Clarke and Clement Crisp have written: "If the entire imperial Russian inheritance of ballet were lost, Diamonds would still tell us of its essence."

This witty and cheerful piece for 21 dancers opens with an explosive male variation — a series of bravura leaps performed to a trumpet solo — that is followed by rapidly shifting ensemble work for a corps of women which materializes from behind gauze panels on each side of the stage. After a quietly mesmerizing pas de deux of unfolding turns, arrested leaps and intricate lifts, the ballet ends with squadrons of dancers flying on and off the stage in ever-changing directions, patterns, and diagonals. An early reviewer compared the work's intricate geometry to the paintings of Kandinsky and Malevich. The score by Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) fell in and out of favor with the Soviet government as the composer's creative development and fortunes were often determined by political events in the Soviet Union. Shostakovich studied at the Leningrad Conservatory, where his work was encouraged by Alexander Glazounov, the Conservatory's Principal. Shostakovich's 1926 graduation piece, The First Symphony, catapulted him to prominence. During the next decade he composed a satirical opera, The Nose (based on a story by Nicolai Gogol), three full-length ballets, and the first of many film scores. Shostakovich, whose work was influenced by Gustav Mahler and Cesar Franck, wrote 15 symphonies (several of them with epic themes relating to the Russian Revolution and World War II), concertos, quartets, operas, and patriotic cantatas. Christopher Wheeldon, a former soloist with New York City Ballet, retired from dancing in May 2000. He was born in Somerset, England, and joined The Royal Ballet in 1991, the same year he won the Gold Medal at the Prix de Lausanne Competition. In 1993, he was invited to become a member of the NYCB corps de ballet. In addition to dancing, he has choreographed works for New York City Ballet's Slavonic Dances (Dvorak) (1997) and Scènes de Ballet (Stravinsky) (1999), Boston Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Ballet Inc., The Royal Ballet, the Royal Ballet School, and the School of American Ballet. His work can also be seen in the feature film Center Stage (released May 2000). In 2000, Mr. Wheeldon was selected as New York City Ballet's first Artist in Residence.

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