Something Old, Something New

Sterling Hyltin and Andrew Veyette with the company in Justin Peck's <I>Everywhere We Go</I>.<br />© Paul Kolnik. (Click image for larger version)

Here’s my review of the Saturday matinee at New York City Ballet, including débuts by Sara Mearns and Russell Janzen  in Balanchine’s Chaconne and my second look at Justin Peck’s Everywhere We Go, from last season.

And a short excerpt: “[Everywhere We Go] begins well, with a striking duet for two men, or rather for a man and his shadow. This shadowing theme suffuses the rest of the ballet, particularly the complicated relationship between principals and corps. Peck constantly subverts the hierarchies of lead dancers and ensemble. Dancers melt in and out of larger formations; at times the shadow figures become the main event. Peck’s configurations for the ensemble are often asymmetrical, non-frontal, kaleidoscopic, but never less than clear.”

Two Young Choreographers on the Move: Justin Peck and Troy Schumacher

Last week I attended lecture-dems showcasing the work of two young choreographers, both of whom are also members of New York City Ballet. I wonder what they’re putting in the rosin over there at the StateTheatre, because there really seems to be an upsurge in creativity in the ranks. (But why, still, no women choreographers?) The notion that ballet is a languishing form flies out of the window when one sees their work and hears them talk.

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Works & Process talk at the Guggenheim: Ellen Barr, Justin Peck, Michael P. Atkinson, Sufjan Stevens and Karl Jensen. Photo by Jacklyn Meduga for Works & Process at the Guggenheim.

You’ll find a discussion of the two events here, for DanceTabs. And a short excerpt:

“It has now become clear that ballet is undergoing an important evolution, and I’m not referring to the overwrought, effect-laden mannerisms of much of what is referred to as “contemporary ballet.” This is a change that is blossoming within ballet’s own idiom, using the specific skill-set of ballet dancers: jumping, turning, balancing, sliding, skittering on pointe, flickering the legs at warp speed, tipping and extending hyper-articulate bodies.”

A Fond Farewell—Jenifer Ringer

Final farewells. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Final farewells. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Jenifer Ringer danced her last dance yesterday at New York City Ballet, in a program that combined Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering and Balanchine’s tribute to the British Isles, Union Jack. Unsurprisingly she seemed relaxed, dancing with her usual musicality and emotional transparency. Here’s my review of the show, for DanceTabs.

The cast of Dances at a Gathering. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
The cast of Dances at a Gathering. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

I’d love to hear people’s memories of her dancing. I’ll never forget a public coaching of Liebeslieder with Violette Verdy. Dressed in rehearsal clothes, under bright studio lights, Ringer and Jared Angle  conjured a completely enclosed world in which only they existed. After they finished Verdy said simply, “that was perfect, I have nothing to say.”

Jenifer Ringer in Union Jack. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Jenifer Ringer in Union Jack. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

About a Boy—a new ballet for New York City Ballet by Liam Scarlett

On Friday, New York City Ballet unveiled its first ballet by the young Briton Liam Scarlett, who, at 27, is considered one of the most promising new voices in ballet. The work is entitled “Acheron”—the name of a river in Greek mythology— and set to Poulenc’s Concerto in G for Organ, Strings, and Tympani, the same piece Glen Tetley used for his1973 ballet Voluntaries. You can read my review for DanceTabs here.

And here’s a short excerpt:

“The première of Acheron…revealed a choreographer of prodigious imagination and compositional craft, adept at building an atmosphere and suffusing it with traces of meaning. Though the ballet is abstract, without characters or a plot, an underlying theme coalesces by the end. With this deeper understanding, everything that comes before is bathed in a different hue. I’m eager to see it again, armed with this knowledge.”
I’d love to hear comments and thoughts from others who saw the ballet.

Enjoy your sunday—I hear Renée Fleming will be singing somewhere in Jersey tonight…

Go for Barocco

My first review of New York City Ballet’s winter season is out today on DanceTabs. It’s never a bad idea to start of a season with an all-Balanchine program, especially if it includes “Concerto Barocco,” a microcosm of musicality and modernity. The company seems to be in good form. Here’s a short excerpt from the review:

“We see and hear each of its moving parts, understand the transitions, and notice the way certain phrases, like a repeated hop on pointe followed by a small bow, or a courtly Baroque dance step, return from one movement to the next, leading to a logical, almost inevitable conclusion….And yet, for all its concern with structure, the ballet reads as pure, sublimated meaning and emotion.”

The Spell of “Dances at a Gathering,” and other things

Tiler Peck and Joaquín de Luz in Dances at a Gathering. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Tiler Peck and Joaquín de Luz in Dances at a Gathering. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

For DanceTabs, I reviewed two programs at NYCB, “Just for Fun” (Carnival of the Animals, Jeu de Cartes, and The Four Seasons), and “Tradition and Innovation” (Vespro, Duo Concertant, and Dances at a Gathering). Yes, the company has taken to “naming” its programs, and also to grouping them by theme, which I often find to be problematic–too much of a good thing, not enough contrast. But still, serendipity happens. The seasons’ single performance of Jerome Robbins’ “Dances at a Gathering” turned out to be one of the freshest renditions I’ve seen in a long time. Tiler Peck, in particular, was ravishing as the “girl in pink” (see photo above).

Christopher Wheeldon’s “Carnival of the Animals,” which the company hasn’t done for a while, turned out to be a be a bit of a disappointment. It’s flat, and tries too hard to be funny (without succeeding). But there are some lovely images, like this one, of a mermaid, danced here by the beautiful Lauren Lovette.

Lauren Lovette in Carnival of the Animals, by Christopher Wheeldon. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Lauren Lovette in Carnival of the Animals, by Christopher Wheeldon. Photo by Paul Kolnik.