City Ballet season to celebrate choreographer Robbins

The New York City Ballet's three-week season at SPAC, opening on Tuesday, July 8, and running throug
Jerome Robbins’ "The Concert" will be among works presented at SPAC this summer by the New York City Ballet.
Jerome Robbins’ "The Concert" will be among works presented at SPAC this summer by the New York City Ballet.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Jerome Robbins, his wit, lyricism and reflections on the young and vibrant, will be honored by New York City Ballet during its summer residency at Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

The three-week season, opening on Tuesday, July 8, and running through Saturday, July 26, will extend the ballet’s Robbins Celebration, which will be launched during its spring season at Lincoln Center in New York City. The homage will offer revivals of two Robbins ballets that have never appeared at SPAC — “Four Bagatelles,” to music by Beethoven, and “Moves,” the austere ballet danced in silence. It will also showcase his collaboration with versatile choreographer Twyla Tharp in “Brahms/Handel,” last seen here in 1990.

Of course, the season will also highlight Robbins’ audience-friendly works familiar to SPAC-goers, including “Glass Pieces,” “The Concert,” “West Side Story Suite,” “The Four Seasons” and “I’m Old Fashioned.”

25 ballets scheduled

They will be among the 25 ballets that the company will stage at SPAC. In addition to the two Robbins premieres, the stay will also be highlighted by three other SPAC premieres. Two date from the company’s winter season in New York. Ballet master in chief Peter Martins created a tribute to company co-founder Lincoln Kirstein in “Grazioso.” Set to music by Glinka, the ballet premiered in November at the New York State Theater as a nod of gratitude to Kirstein.

The season will also feature Christopher Wheeldon’s new ballet “Rococo Variations.” The final ballet from Wheeldon who is retiring as the company’s resident choreographer, is set to music by Tchaikovsky.

The third premiere is yet to be determined. It will be selected from a field created by Kirov Ballet choreographer Alexi Ratmansky and Italian dancemaker Mauro Bigonzetti.

Making return

Also on stage will be several ballets that have not been seen at SPAC in years. Three are from Balanchine — Ravel’s “Le Tombeau de Couperin,” last seen in 1975; Stravinsky’s Divertimento from “Le Baiser de la Fee,” last seen in 1985; and Rieti’s “La Sonnambula,” last appearing at SPAC in 1987. Martins’ “River of Light,” to music by Wuorinen, has only made one showing at SPAC. That was in 1998.

Other Robbins ballets will include the self-possessed duet “Afternoon of a Faun,” the jaunty ensemble vehicle “Interplay,” his celestial “Opus 19/The Dreamer” and his musical interpretation of the “Goldberg Variations.” Of course, no SPAC season would be complete without a few dazzlers from the Balanchine canon. This season will see the daring retelling of the Biblical tale “Prodigal Son,” the glamorous bow to classical ballet in “Symphony in C” and the playful send-up to cowboy culture in “Western Symphony.”

Hubbe, Woetzel retiring

On one final note, principal dancers Nikolaj Hubbe and Damian Woetzel are both retiring and not planning on making final farewells at SPAC. Hubbe will be returning to Denmark, where he will head up the Danish Royal Ballet. Woetzel’s plans are unannounced. Sofiane Sylve has already departed. The French ballerina has embarked on a freelance career. Gonzalo Garcia, former member of the San Francisco Ballet, has joined as a principal dancer.

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