"Raymonda Variations", "The Steadfast Tin Soldier", "Le Tombeau de Couperin", "Symphony in C"
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
New York, NY
May 10, evening, 2014
by Mary Cargill
copyright © 2014 by Mary Cargill
The marketing department could come up with nothing more imaginative than "All Balanchine", but that didn't matter to the audience, which turned out despite the lack of an advertising hook. Though there really was a hook, beautiful ballets danced very well, which seemed to be enough. The whipped cream music of Alexander Glazounov's "Raymonda" flowed under the guest conductor Alexandre Myrat's direction; it really is some of the most delicious, danceable music ever written. The original ballet, though, didn't have much of a story; it seems as if Petipa just needed an excuse to pour out beautiful variations. In his several ballets based on the "Raymonda" score, Balanchine completely ignored the story, but kept the flavor, and in both this ballet and "Cortège Hongrois" the ballerinas do Hungarian-inflected movements. (In the original story Raymonda was a French noblewoman dancing one of her many solos to honor the Hungarian King Andrei, who was visiting the happy couple on his way home from the Crusades, or something like that; it was a good excuse for a party.) Though Balanchine's "Raymonda Variations" has no narrative, he did take much of the structure of Petipa's solos, adding his own flourishes, and the dancers should echo the courtly origins, even though the main couple, Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette, must wear Karinska's beautifully cut but washed-out turquoise costumes.