BWW Review: NEW YORK CITY BALLET Presents 21st Century Choreographers
On Saturday evening, October 14, 2017, at the David H. Koch Theater, I saw a performance by NYCB including five contemporary pieces choreographed by four members of NYCB and the fifth who had trained at SAB (School of American Ballet, the official school of NYCB).
First on the program was The Chairman Dances, to music by John Adams and choreographed by Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins. This ballet premiered May 14, 1988 at the New York State Theater (former name of the David H. Koch Theater). The scenery and Asian inspired costumes were by Rouben Ter-Artunian with lighting by Mark Stanley (who did the lighting for all pieces on this program). The red scenery and red and purple costumes worn by the corps de ballet were striking. They wore black pointe shoes, but rarely rose off demi pointe to full pointe. The principal role was danced by Megan LeCrone wearing the same costume in white over turquoise with red shoes. Although the choreography for the corps was not particularly challenging, only one dancer stood out with beautifully centered work, offering a personality that suited the style, Olivia Boisson. She seems to have grown during her time in the company.
After the first piece there was a short film featuring the costume designers who worked with these chorographers, showing their creative input as the dancers wore the costumes during rehearsals. As the evening continued, I was more impressed by the costumes than the content, perhaps with the exception of my favorite work on the program. I doubt that this was intended.
Composer's Holiday to music of Lucas Foss was choreographed by Gianna Reisen, a choreographer and apprentice of Dresden Semperoper Ballett. Musicians playing beautifully were left of the stage: Violin: Arturo Delmoni and Piano: Susan Walters. Costumes by Virgil Abloh Off-White Costumes supervised by Marc Happel were black and white, with two girls in peach, one of them in a principal role. The soft layered skirts were like soft tutus and did not overpower the choreography. The curtain opened on the dancers striking an interesting pose. There were several eye-catching poses, lifts and partnering to keep the attention of the audience. This was There were a couple of memorable moments in The Wind Still Brings, choreographed by Troy Schumacher to music of William Walton. The costumes by Jonathan Saunders, supervised by Marc Happel, however, stole the show. Variations of costuming were each worn by a woman and a man, standing out beyond the dancing.
Principal dancer Lauren Lovette contributed Not Our Fate to music by Michael Nyman. Costumes by Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim of MONSE and Oscar de la Renta, supervised by Marc Happel presented men wearing white t-shirts and black tights and women wearing black tops and flowing white skirts. The movement of the skirts was pretty as they moved, but seemed to dominate the stage. There were two couples dancing pas de deux, Meaghan Dutton-O'Hara and Ask la Cour as well as Preston Chamblee and Taylor Stanley, two men partnering each other as a man and a woman would dance together. The theme, described by a poem by Mary Elizabeth Sell was presented in the program:
"Connections lost, connections made
They are not always an even trade
Finding ourselves, finding another
Is a gift unlike any other
(and two more verses")
Justin Peck's Pulcinella Variations, music by Igor Stravinsky, closed the program. The costumes, by Tsumori Chisato, supervised by Marc Happel, were colorful, hand painted, and eye-catching. It was good to see solos and pas de deux by some of the top dancers of NYCB, including Sara Mearns, Jared Angle, Sterling Hyltin, Tiler Peck, Gonzalo Garcia, Brittany Pollack, Anthony Huxley, and Andrew Scordato. The soloist who particularly impressed me was Indiana Woodward. She moved beautifully, overcoming the dominance of a costume of ½ tutu and ½ unitard. It seemed that she did not need an unusual costume to make her stand out.
NYCB will return to the Koch Theater November 24-December 31 with George Balanchine's The Nutcracker.
Photo credit: Paul Kolnik