Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The New York City Ballet devoted its program Thursday night to two of its grandest, flagship ballets - Jerome Robbins' "The Goldberg Variations," his most ambitious balletic opus, nearly an hour and 20 minutes long, involving 46 dancers; and George Balanchine's ever memorable "Symphony in C," a four-movement epitome of Apollonian classicism, for 52 dancers.
The rewards were many, as choreography of this caliber virtually insures, and yet, somehow, neither performances gave as full or probing an account of these works as we have seen in the past. It's not easy to pin-point what went wrong. There was much beautiful and keen dancing. But on the whole some sort of artistic adrenalin factor seemed missing throughout the evening.
Assuredly, there were notable individual exceptions to this generalization. Merrill Ashley, so well suited by the clarity of her line and phrasing to Robbins' sportive combinations, was stunning in Part II of "Goldberg." So were Allegra Kent, a dancer who never fails to project the inner eostasy of dancing, and Daniel Duell, now recovered from his recent injury and looking as pristinely heroic as ever. In "Symphony in C," it was Robert Weiss who mainly stood out, conquering the air in those third-movement vaultings with a jaunty daring remarkable even for him.
But even Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins, all suavity and elegance in the Balanchine Adagio, lacked the passionate conviction they have shown us on other occasions in this same vehicle.