THE ROYAL NEW ZEALAND BALLET
February 14, 2014
The Royal New Zealand Ballet arrived at the Joyce Theater for the first time in 61 years under the directorship of NYC’s ballet star Ethan Stiefel. A former ABT principal dancer know for his elegant and clean classical technique, Stiefel invited another ABT principal dancer Gillian Murphy to help celebrate the NYC season.
Composed of 34 attractive and robustly trained dancers, the evening featured three ballets. The dancers were charmingly introduced in Benjamin Millepied’s 2005 ballroom ballet “25 Variations On A theme By Paganini” to the lushly romantic score by Brahams. Tidy interactions between five eager partners flourished into turns and leaps with the women holding onto strong, airy balances en pointe, supported by earnest partners.
Choreographically, the most visually compelling piece was by Andrew Simmons. “Of Day” captures dancers’ etched in high-contrast light while lines of silent bodies form a shadowy background. Tightly integrate patterns and themes materialized and melted into the air. Although utilizing a ballet vocabulary, its modern dance expressivity drew angular shapes in a hush of perpetual motion.
A score that culled music from Tan Dun and gamelan orchestras, the charged “Banderillero” (2006) referenced New Zealand’s proximity to Southeast Asia. Many passages capitalized on animated shapes associated with Asian temple statues. Warrior women sparred energetically with the equally tenacious men. On the floor a white square becomes the village center bordered by dancers. One by one, the dancers criss-cross the space, splitting off of the group and executing a solo—Soul Train style.
We hope RNZ makes a speedy return to NYC.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis