BWW Reviews: NEW YORK CITY BALLET Looks Forward to the Future
To jumpstart their 50th anniversary at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, the New York City Ballet began their Spring season not looking back but rather looking forward, presenting works from 21st century choreographers and showcasing the Company's ever-evolving mastery of their art.
The Saturday evening performance on May 3rd featured a diverse range of ballets that highlighted the versatility, artistry, and excellence of the Company. Sonatas and Interludes was a quirky pas de deux set to John Cage's score for prepared piano and choreographed by ballet master and Associate Artistic Director of the New York Choreographic Institute, Richard Tanner. Created for NYCB's Diamond Project, Vespro, choreographed by Mauro Bigonzetti with music by Bruno Moretti, took a new, dynamic approach to exploring shape and movement in ballet. Benjamin Millepied's Two Hearts, with music by Nico Muhly, was a playfully romantic piece that ended with a sensually elegant duet by principals Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle. The performance concluded with Acheron by 27-year-old Liam Scarlett, a visual wonder set to the Concerto in G for Organ by Francis Poulenc.
Perhaps the greatest risk taken was opening with the world premiere of Les Bosquets by Parisian street artist JR, where two completely opposite worlds collided. However, unlike many ballet and hip hop fusions, this was an ingenious blend that was both pure ballet and pure hip hop. The bold composition by New Woodkid set the tone for the piece, inspired by the 2005 riots in the housing projects of suburban Paris. From the beating of the drums to the stark shadow play on the backdrop to the contrasting military marching and gritty gesturing, Les Bosquets roused the audience.
The height of the ballet was the stunning duet between NYCB dancer Lauren Lovette and guest artist Lil Buck, a dancer who specializes in Memphis-style jookin. His fluid movements, similar to Michael Jackson's famous moonwalk, and his perfectly controlled attitude turns of NYCB-caliber, made Lil Buck quite the star of the ballet. Together with the ever-beautiful Lauren Lovette en pointe and in a paper tutu, their pairing was seamlessly natural.
A clever move by the Company, opening with this ballet made an incredible statement that resounded throughout the David H. Koch Theater, a statement that declared their outlook on future collaborations of fusing together polarizing worlds of artistic, generational, and social-economic backgrounds. Les Bosquets ended with a great reveal at the end, paying homage to JR's art installation from last season that featured photographs of the Company members laid out on the theater lobby and arranged to form a giant eye. Their introduction of a dynamic new work made by a returning collaborator tells patrons that this is who the Company is--a company for all, and not just for now, but for the rest of time.
The New York City Ballet did not quietly enter onto the stage for its 50th year but rather came in booming, shouting, "Here I am!" Yes, here it is, in the 21st century. A 21st century ballet company, but a ballet company nonetheless. A company for its patrons of 50 years. A company for newcomers. A company for ballet masters, for street photographers, movie stars, new choreographers, and young protégés. A ballet company for all.
Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik