BWW Review: NYCB'S ALL ROBBINS Proves that Everything is Beautiful at the Ballet
A different kind of energy crackled throughout the David H. Koch Theater on the evening of May 13, 2016, vibrant and self-aware, with a knowing sense of the dynamic dancing that lay ahead. As I settled into my seat, preparing to bask in the evening's ode to Jerome Robbins, a British accent behind me said, clearly and plainly, "I've never been to the ballet...I'm so excited." I smiled to myself; thankful for all of the ballets I had seen before, and with a keen certainty that after tonight, this gentleman was certainly going to be returning.
The first of the night's pieces, Dances at a Gathering, began in silence, unveiling a stage flooded in tranquil blue. Sturdy and statuesque, Robert Fairchild in Brown stepped out alone, wading in the silence with commanding confidence, his dancing as fine-tuned as ever. A soothing Chopin piano score slowly trickled in to fill the room, creating a comfortable intimacy between the dancers and the audience. Sweetly and methodically, each dancer appeared on stage in different pairings, defined by the colors they wore to create a patchwork quilt of beauty and intricacy. Notable standouts included Sara Mearns in Green, a vision of total control and total spontaneity all at once, Sterling Hyltin in Pink, floating across the stage with silky bourrées, and Amar Ramasar in Green, an attentive partner and a reliable technician.
Dances at a Gathering showcased the unique strength of the company by playing up what they do so well - dance together. With each different pas de deux, pas de trois or group montage, the dancers' palpable chemistry mobilized the score with ferocity, powering each gravity-defying lift series with aplomb. But the most powerful moment of all was the finale, as the group took an entire minute to collectively shift their heads from left, to right, to the ceiling, and with bated breath, to the floor. And just like that, the ballet ended as it began - quiet and poignant.
After intermission, it was time for the company to show off their acting and singing chops in the explosive West Side Story Suite. A stage set with riotous color and music, the dancers embraced their theatricality with panache. It was extremely gratifying watching the company, led by athletic tour-de-force Andrew Veyette as Riff, take on the choreography's daring physicality including flourished slides across the stage floor and series of intricate leaps. Between Tony and Maria's fated love story and the gangs' constant fighting, a fiery Brittany Pollack as Anita shone brighter than all the rest. Doing her own singing in the fan-favorite "America," she danced with such passion and fervor; you simply couldn't take your eyes off of her. She's a true star in the making.
It is clearer than ever what they say about ballet dancers - they can do anything. Ballet gives you the fundamentals to achieve anything you wish in the dance world, and no company quite proves this more powerfully than NYCB.
Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik