BWW Review: Expanding the Range of Ballet with NEW YORK CITY BALLET
As part of their spring NYC season, New York City Ballet (NYCB) presents the Here/Now Festival featuring ten specially curated programs. This is an opportunity for audiences to see the breadth, quality, and range of works that have been developed over the past three decades. On the evening of May 3, 2017, I had the opportunity to see program number 3- dedicated to the repertory of Resident Choreographer, Justin Peck.
The evening opened with In Creases, set to Phillip Glass' "Four Movements for Two Pianos." This was Mr. Peck's first work he created for NYCB that had its world premiere in July 2012 during the company's annual summer residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. It was an interesting play with the idea of "folding" and "unfolding" within the choreography and how many ways that can be done. This theme was seen in the way the dancers moved, whether it was "folding" and "unfolding" different body parts (arms, legs) or in the spatial patterns on the stage in both curvy and zigzag pathways as they formed complex geometric shapes and patterns. It was very beautiful. My favorite parts occurred when the dancers were in the straight vertical line as each had a different sequence of arms- switching from straight, angular, and curved movements.
The program continued with a lovely duet exploring the notions of interconnectivity and hope in the piece The Dreamers. I loved the way Peck integrated the characteristics of the music set to Bohuslav Martinu into the choreography. When the music was sharp and fast, so were the movements. I very much appreciated the parts where the music would crescendo, and the choreography would build up with it. The partner work was very nice- it definitely required a lot of hand, arm, and foot coordination. It was all very mesmerizing.
The piece New Blood features 13 dancers in a series of duets. It was really exciting to watch this dance as each duet displays a number of overlapping exits that is marked by the entrance of another dancer. As each duet changed, the costumes (designed by Humberto Leon of Opening Ceremony and Kenzo) also changed. There was a gradual shift in the colors of the costumes. It was subtle at first until later, when I noticed the shades of color were slowly changing. I thought it was very clever!
The performance concluded with the dance Everywhere We Go featuring a commissioned score by American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens. The first thing that caught my attention was the music. There was a strong emphasis on the horns in the score, which is quite unusual when it comes to ballet where the strings are typically the main instruments. Then I loved the set by Brooklyn-based artists Karl Jensen and lighting by Brandon Stirling Baker. The backdrop contained a multi-layered background full of geometric shapes. It reminded me of a kaleidoscope. And the dancing was outstanding! I enjoyed Peck's use of cannon, the beautiful lifts, and fantastic technique, it was quite the sight indeed!
Mr. Peck is a fabulous choreographer! He has a very interesting eye for partner work that is rare, yet stunning. There is also a collaborative essence in his choreography among the lighting, the music, and the costumes that I personally enjoy. It was great to see the depth of his work all in one evening. It truly showcased why he is such a great and sought after master of remarkable ballet.
NYCB's Here/Now Festival brings 4 weeks of performances featuring 22 choreographers, 43 ballets, 10 programs, and 2 world premieres- showcasing the company's commitment to present new work. This continues their legacy of contemporary choreography commissioned by the company. The festival continues through May 21, 2017. Tickets are still available, if you haven't already secured your seat! For more information, please visit the website at www.nycb.com.
Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik