Performing Arts: Dance
March 8, 2022
Cheers cascaded from the balconies to the orchestra during Tiler Peck's inaugural program at City Center. Commissioned to create a new work and curate an evening of dance, Tiler assembled world class dancers and premium choreographers in a deeply satisfyingly evening of dance.

An iridescent ballerina, Peck has stopped hearts with her exquisitely musical and technically electrifying performances as a principal dancer with NYC Ballet. And in fact, the incredibly busy, Peck just completed her season with NYC Ballet in February! Composed of Peck's 2019 ballet Thousandth Orange commissioned by Vail Dance Festival, the program was buoyed by premieres from Lauren Lovette, Alonzo King, Swift Arrow; William Forsythe, The Barre PRoject, Blak Works II and a collaboration between Michelle Dorrance, Jillian Meyers and Peck, Time Spell. In the world of modern dance, performers commonly become choreographers. Not so common in ballet, unless of course, you're a member of NYC Ballet, a company consistently producing young choreographers.

Before COVID-19 stalled the world, Peck created an appealing work for 6 dancers to music by Caroline Shaw played live at City Center by the Bergamot Quartet. Visually clean, the lights reveal a tableau of dancers posed in layered vertical levels. Featuring the original cast of top tier dancers--Isabella Boylston, India Bradley, Herman Cornejo, Jovani Furlan, Christopher Grant, and Lauren Lovette -- Peck played to each dancer's strength, composing balletic steps shaped around relationships. Most striking are the richly textured patterns. Thankfully, unison dance is not the dominant feature. By plumbing her inherent musicality, Peck forms movements that work in counterpoint to one another or fan out forming painterly snapshots of dancers moving on two different spatial levels. Dancers partner up regardless of gender performing on a scale few ever achieve.

California based Alozno King paired Tiler Peck and Roman Mejia (son of ballet dancer/choreographer Paul Mejia) to the most of the stellar jazz pianist Jason Moran performed by Sequoia Snyder. Compressing a battery of shape-shifting steps into a single note of music, the duet sharply outlines the dancers' remarkable technical acuity within the parameters of jazz's asymmetry.

William Forsythe's popularity erupted when he was commissioned by NYC Ballet to create a ballet in 1988 "Behind the China Dogs." So it's a homecoming of sorts to have Peck commission another mind-altering Forsythe piece "The Barre Project, Blake Works II" to the soulfully jazzy, sonic sounds of James Blake. Exciting to watch, Forsythe packs a wallop with his off-center/hyper-extended moves, and slightly savage encounters--the kind that throw people off-balance only to be caught by exquisite, last minute timing. All four dancers, the fluid Lex Ishimoto, Brooklyn Mack, Roman Mejia and Tiler Peck flesh out the steps giving them definition sheathed in a sultry swag that says: Forsythe.

Finally, the explosive piece that brought the audience to its feet, "Time Spell" was a collaboration between Michelle Dorrance, Jillian Meyers and Tiler Peck to percussive and vocal music by Aaron Marcellus and Penelope Wendtlandt who appeared on-stage.

Dorrance, a premiere tap artist; Meyers, a contemporary choreographer; and Lovett, crafted Time Spellwith optimism and skill. "Time Spell" seeds the stage with ballet vocabulary pressed through voguing and athleticism. Limp hands, swift weight changes fueled by hip leading struts and sultry glances heightened the heat along with the giddily consumable tap dancing. In a clever turn, micked platforms are swiftly pulled out for the tap dance elements, and then swiftly removed.

Frequently, when tap, club, and street dance shimmy with ballet, the result is lopsided. In this case, all the practices maintained integrity and together they produce a seductive, joyful song. The team of dancers included India Bradley, Michelle Dorrance, Christopher Grant, Lex Ishimoto, Lauren Lovette, Roman Mejia, Jillian Meyers, Tiler Peck, Byron TIttle, Cassandra Trenary and Chun Wai Chan.

This is the type of program that truly draws new audiences to dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY--Celia Ipiotis

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