BWW Review: NYCB Creates Colorful Nuance with Stravinsky x Five
Dampened from the chilly rain falling outside, I stepped into the majestic David H. Koch Theater on January 24, 2017 in desperate need of comfort. But I got so much more than that at New York City Ballet's Stravinsky x Five program. As I took my seat, the heavenly timbres of Stravinsky's bluesy score from "Scènes de Ballet" flooded my ears and spirit. In that moment, all was right in the world, and it stayed that way for the entire evening.
A nostalgic Christopher Wheeldon piece, "Scènes de Ballet" captures the beauty that comes from dancers first falling in love with ballet. Young SAB dancers took the stage with enviable energy, dancing in perfect synchronicity with repeated tendu and arabesque series that continued to renew the piece's exuberance. With just a twinkle of fairy dust, older dancers transitioned on stage, showing the passage of time with subtlety and grace. But it's the choreography's intricate patterns and unwavering attention to detail that makes it a triumph to behold.
Jerome Robbins' "The Cage" followed, providing a stark contrast that unleashed all that is visceral and animalistic about the body's form. Imitating insects, the female dancers captivated with a sensuous edge, arching and contracting their spines with eerie confidence. Lauren Lovette as The Novice danced with impossible speed and threw all caution to the wind. Her body was merely a vessel for electricity, and she's a true tour de force.
Lightening the mood and brevity was "Eight Easy Pieces," a delightful trio that seemed to sparkle in Technicolor. Peter Martins' choreography toes the line between athletic and eccentric, imploring the dancers to collaborate in both movement and musicality. Olivia MacKinnon, Rachel Hutsell and Alexa Maxwell began strong, easily sensing each other's dynamics, but as the piece came to a close, their rhythm and stamina slowed, and the finale underwhelmed.
Up next was Justin Peck's "Scherzo Fantastique," an immersive watercolor paradise, echoed by the score's whimsical tones. Clad in vivid stripes, the dancers' purpose was often difficult to pinpoint, as they repeatedly swarmed together and detached with no obvious rhyme or reason. But it's exactly this randomness that made it impossible to look away, best illustrated by the dynamic Anthony Huxley. With supple buoyancy and incredible precision, Huxley's facilities are only outweighed by his quiet dominance. I can't wait to watch him evolve as a dancer.
But nothing could overshadow the masterpiece that is "Stravinsky Violin Concerto," a Balanchine legacy that standardizes modern ballet as we know it. A tapestry of corps de ballet members provided depth to the choreography's complexity and supported the dueling pas de deux. Danced with intense chemistry and ease by Sterling Hyltin and Robert Fairchild and with elegant port de bras by Maria Kowroski and Amar Ramasar, each duo brought can't-miss beauty to the stage. And it's exactly their levels of skill and artistry that coalesced to create magic for a truly unforgettable night.
Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik