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Duke!, a collaboration between New York City Ballet and Jazz at Lincoln Center, commemorates the unparalleled contribution to American music by Edward "Duke" Ellington, and was first presented to honor the 100th Anniversary of his birth. Danced before an on-stage orchestra, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Duke! is three short ballets by three different choreographers; the connecting thread is provided not only by the composer but by the work's overall design.
The first movement, "Rockin' in Rhythm," by Robert La Fosse, is a tribute to the Lindy-hop and Forties swing dancing. It includes a bevy of bebopping couples and a dazzling tap duet.
Garth Fagan's second movement, "Ellington Elation," for two couples and an ensemble of 10, features the choreographer's signature movements; long, off-kilter balances, hang-in-the-air leaps and quick, dramatic lifts.
"Blossom Got Kissed," Susan Stroman's closing piece, tells the story of Blossom, a befuddled ballerina with no rhythm (dressed in a pale blue Degas tutu), six flappers in red, their black-suited hipster boyfriends, and the transforming power of a kiss (when it's bestowed by the orchestra's triangle player).
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