I went to the ballet again tonight. This time the program was called “All Balanchine” and was comprised of two short ballets, both choreographed by George Balanchine. The first was the Liebesleider Walzer, which was basically just a series of ballet waltzes set to Johannes Brahm’ Liebeslieder piano concertos. The period costumes were beautiful, the music was soothing, and the dancing was alternately slow, intimate, graceful and fast, lively, and flirtatious.
The second ballet was set to Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto 2. While Tchaikovsky is my favorite composer–he’s so much fun both to listen to and to play–I was skeptical about whether I would like this portion because in the 1970s, it was decided to remove the scenery and simplify the costumes to simple, pale chiffon dresses. While simplicity can be great because it forces you to focus only on the dancing, I’m a huge fan of costumes and scenery. Just like music can make or break a movie, costumes and scenery can make or break a performance. However, the simplicity actually worked in this case. Perhaps that had to do with the large chorus of dancers who provided that extra sense of “wow” whenever they moved in unison….which was all the time.
Of the handful of ballets I’ve attended this year, I think this was my favorite. Yes, the others were very good but there was just something….different about this one. Maybe because the others were dances telling stories while this was dancing for the sake of dancing. Whatever it was, it worked, and I give this performance 5 out of 5 stars.