Justin Peck Saddles UP

Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar in Justin Peck's "Rodeo, Four Danced Episodes." Phot by Paul Kolnik.
Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar in Justin Peck’s “Rodeo, Four Danced Episodes.” Phot by Paul Kolnik.

My review of Justin Peck’s new ballet, set to Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo,” is here. It was performed in a program that also included Christopher Wheeldon’s “Mercurial Manoeuvres” and Alexei Ratmansky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Here’s an image from the latter ballet:

Ramasar, Mearns, and Sterling Hyltin in Alexei Ratmansky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Ramasar, Mearns, and Sterling Hyltin in Alexei Ratmansky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Evergreen–Why Balanchine’s Nutcracker never Gets Old

Tiler Peck as Dewdrop in the Waltz of the Flowers. (photo by Paul Kolnik.)

Last night I saw my umpteenth performance of Balanchine’s Nutcracker at New York City Ballet, and was once again impressed by the construction, power, and fluency of this version. Yes, it was a particularly tight performance, without a weak link—even the kids were especially lively. But it’s not just that. There is something in the way the choreographer paced the action, the dancing, and the music that both streamlines and enlarges it. I talk about it some more in my review for DanceTabs.

And if you just can’t get enough, here is an excellent piece by Laura Jacobs about the history of the ballet, from Vanity Fair.

Exit Whelan

Wendy Whelan and Alexei Ratmansky in the studio. Photo by Craig Hall.
Wendy Whelan and Alexei Ratmansky in the studio. Photo by Craig Hall.

I wrote a little tribute to Wendy Whelan for the New Yorker’s Culture Blog. You can read it here. This picture is from one of the rehearsals for Christopher Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky’s new piece for her farewell performance, on Oct. 18. Wouldn’t miss it.

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.”

Bringing Balanchine Back

Teresa Reichlen in Movements for Piano and Orchestra. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Teresa Reichlen in
Movements for Piano and Orchestra. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

New York City Ballet has been going from strength in a series of all-Balanchine programs. I review ballets with music by Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky here. A short excerpt:

“On the Stravinsky program (Sept. 25), Robert Fairchild returned to Apollo…He has relaxed into this challenging role and is now able to take risks, tilting dangerously (and excitingly) off-balance and pushing the tempo to create moments of surprise and wildness. Like the unruly young god he depicts, Fairchild tests his strengths and weaknesses before us on the stage.”

So many ballets, so many dresses…

New York City Ballet put on its fall gala on Tuesday, with three new works by Liam Scarlett, Justin Peck, and Troy Schumacher (this was Schumacher’s first for the company.) I reviewed the program for DanceTabs, here.

Here’s a short excerpt:

“It’s as pointless to complain about ballet galas as it is to grumble about the weather. They serve a purpose – replenishing the cash drawer – and they keep the plutocrats happy. For the rest of us, there are the new works to look forward to, often unveiled en masse at the opening of the season….As in previous seasons, fashion was the [gala’s] subtext. Each choreographer was paired with a designer whose eye, at least in principle, was called upon to enhance the work. That these designs also create buzz in fashionable circles just adds to their appeal.

A few shots of those dresses:

Justin Peck's Belles-Lettres with designs by Mary Katrantzou. Photo credit Paul Kolnik
Justin Peck’s Belles-Lettres with designs by Mary Katrantzou. Photo credit Paul Kolnik

 

ler Peck and Robert Fairchild in Liam Scarlett's Funérailles, with designs by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Photo credit Paul Kolnik
Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild in Liam Scarlett’s Funérailles, with designs by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Photo credit Paul Kolnik

 

Sara Mearns and Ask la Cour in Peter Martins' Morgen, with designs by Carolina Herrera. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Sara Mearns and Ask la Cour in Peter Martins’ Morgen, with designs by Carolina Herrera. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Goodbye and Hello

Xiomara Reyes and Sascha Radetsky in Coppélia. Photo by MIRA.
Xiomara Reyes and Sascha Radetsky in Coppélia. Photo by MIRA.

The end of American Ballet Theatre’s spring season brought a trio of farewell performances for the soloists Sascha Radetsky, Yuriko Kajiya, and Jared Matthews. Each led a cast of Coppélia; two were débuts. Quietly, Joseph Gorak also débuted this week as Franz. Recently promoted to soloist, Gorak is a young danseur noble in the making. So it goes in ballet, an art for the young, ambitious, and blindly devoted. Here’s my review for DanceTabs.

Radetsky in Fancy Free. Photo by Marty Sohl.
Radetsky in Fancy Free. Photo by Marty Sohl.
Joseph Gorak in Frederick Ashton's Cinderella. Photo by Gene Schiavone.
Joseph Gorak in Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella. Photo by Gene Schiavone.

The Return of “Namouna”

Sterling Hyltin and Tyler Peck in "Namouna, a Grand Divertissement," by Alexei Ratmansky. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Sterling Hyltin and Tyler Peck in “Namouna, a Grand Divertissement,” by Alexei Ratmansky. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna, a Grand Divertissement, is back at New York City Ballet. And what a ballet it is: witty, intelligent, sophisticated, joyous, bubbling over with steps. If you haven’t seen it, you should. (It will be performed again on the evening of Oct. 10, and Oct. 12 at 2.)

I review it here, for DanceTabs. And here is a short excerpt from that review: “Some ballets improve with age, or, to be more accurate, our eye evolves and we learn to see them better. I remember being befudled at the New York City Ballet première of Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna, A Grand Divertissement in 2010. By the second viewing, I had started to warm to its oddball charm. And by the end of that season, I was smitten. Tonight, revisting this ballet for the first time in three years, it was clear that it is the best new work the company has commissioned since, well, Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH (2008).”