BWW Reviews: Ballet Next Brings Michele Wiles' Next Chapter
Ballet Next, Artistic Director Michele Wiles, presents a Choreographic Exhibition of Works in Process by Marjorie Liebert.
Photo: Tiffany Mangulabnan, in Surmisable Units.
Monday night, October 21st, 2013, at the Alvin Ailey Studios Michele Wiles presented her young company, Ballet Next, with three works in process.
After a long and distinguished career with American Ballet Theatre, Ms. Wiles left ABT in 2011, founding her own company, Ballet Next, in the same year. Not only is Ms. Wiles the Artistic Director, but, to date, she performs in every piece and she has just completed her first choreography, one of the pieces presented on Oct. 21st.
Music Director, Elad Kabilio has been with Ballet Next since it's conception. The live music, played by excellent musicians, brings an important element of richness to the choreography.
The 1st work on the program was Bach 260, choreography by Robert Sher-Macherndl, music by the venerable J.S.Bach. This violin solo was beautifully rendered by Mario Gotoh. Michele Wiles and Mr. Sher-Macherndal performed this pas de deux, which is an exercise, alternating between ballet technique and off balance, contemporary moves. Ms. Wiles would dash to one side or another of the stage to execute classical steps, pursued by Mr. Sher-Macherndl, who arrived to support his partner, take her off balance, lean her nearly to the floor, sideways, then bring her back to an upright position, on her own balance again. In a Q&A during intermission, the Executive Director, James McCullough, asked the choreographer, Sher-Macherndl about his piece. Sher-Macherndl explained that within this framework of balance via classical technique and off balance contemporary moves, he demonstrates that the male is there to support and protect his female partner.
Ms. Wiles' choreography, All the Drops of Water, music by Max Richter, was 2nd on the program. This is an expressive, fluid duo for two women, Ms. Wiles and Tiffany Mangulabnan, dressed in midnight blue tights and long-sleeved leotards, which helped to create a feeling of depth. The Richter music is hypnotic and the dancers are mesmerizing. The movements resemble water, sometimes flowing, sometimes brusque, then, fluid again... The two dancers were sometimes on their own paths, but would ultimately return to flow together. Female emotion is on display throughout, generously offered by Ms. Mangulabnan and Ms. Wiles. That this ballet was a first attempt at choreography, by Ms. Wiles, is hard to believe. It is an exceptional achievement. The fine musicians were: Elad Kabilio, cello; Caroline Gilbert, viola; Mario Gotoh, violin; Hajnal Karman Pivnick, violin; and Ben Laude, piano.
Last on the program was Surmisable Units, choreography by Brian Reeder, music by Steve Reich: "Piano Phase", for two pianos, expertly played by Peter Dugan and Ben Laude. The pianos were center stage, towards the back, often a part of the action, as the dancers sometimes moved around the pianos, including them in the choreography. This is the third work created by Mr. Reeder, specifically for Ballet Next. The dancers: Michele Wiles, Brittany Cioce, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Tiffany Mangulabnan, and Steven Melendez were colorfully dressed in layers. The movement, too, seemed layered. The dancers echoed the repetitive nature of the music, via one of the pianos, as they moved through space without emotion, at first with silver masks covering their faces, which were later to be discarded. The other piano was complementary to the first, playing accompaniment to the repetitiveness, giving the dancers variety to their mechanized, but, not mechanical contemporary ballet. Within this ballet were solos, a duo of two tall beauties, Ms. Gilliland and Ms. Wiles moving coupled together, and a pas de deux for Ms. Cioce and Mr. Melendez. All of the dancers cooperated like parts of a machine.
I am left excited to see these works, as well as others, on stage at NYLA (New York Live Arts), in two programs, January 13-18, 2014.