NYC BALLET-HERMAN SCHMERMAN/PRINCIPIA/THE RUNWAY
February 2, 2019
For many, the anticipated night’s highlight was the premier of the popular choreographer, Justin Peck’s new work, however, two other ballets hustled the audience’s attention as well. Besides Peck’s Principia there was the revival of Billy Forsythe’s deconstructed ballet Herman Schmerman and Kyle Abraham’s funky The Runway.
If nothing else, it’s good to know that New York City Ballet has three pieces that nod to the younger generation who by the looks of it is flocking to the ballet.
Bright and breezy, Peck’s Principia had the sunshiny look of young people out for an afternoon romp. Dressed in grey leotards and pink tights, the lights by Jennifer Tipton shone on a large huddle of dancers moving as a single organism until one person, then another, popped out of various pockets. When they broke apart, the dancers bounded about with loose, upright bodies, and hands sometimes clasped behind the neck, or gaily swinging.
Everything spun out of a casual playfulness that at times turned towards a person for a brief tete a tete. Later, the dancers re-grouped into four human maypole clumps: bodies pressed together, backs to the audience, and arms straightened up like the top of a circus tent. At the heart of the ballet is a duet with Tyler Peck and Taylor Stanley. Both were in fine form, and moved candidly through the steps with ease, passing their energy along to other couples of mixed and same sex genders. In fact, a choreographic ease threaded together the casual couplings and uncoupling of dancers bound by an accepting community of movers.
When Billy Forsythe first cam on the scene, he awed audiences with a disjointed, wild choreography that looked like Balanchine on steroids. The first piece for NYC Ballet was Behind the China Dogs.It generated an equal amount of awe and disdain within the critical community, but the audience loved it. In 1992, he returned to make Herman Schmerman.
And although the central duet has appeared on numerous programs, the whole ballet hasn’t been revived for at least 20 years. So it was met with a great deal of anticipation. Electronic music by Forsythe’s longtime collaborator Thom Willems, punched the air while dancers in black corsets tied in the back and revealing skin, whipped hyper-extended legs up and around, flipping balances forward and back on heels, and toes.
Then came The Runway which premiered during the 2018 Fall Gala. Exotic headpieces and dresses whipped around the stage with a stash of sass and style. Dancers, snugly wrapped in Giles Deacon’s sleek outfits, brashly tackled Kyle Abraham’s witty mesh of ballet, modern dance, and club posturing. Perfectly game to get company members swiveling their hips, and throwing looks to the audience, Abraham released the company’s inner funk.
In particular, Abraham’s solo for Taylor Stanley stole the show. Stanley performed a lush and salty group of tightly shaped steps that relied equally on technical assertiveness and expressivity. Altogether, the costumes, choreography and rap perfumed sound score whipped the audience into another standing ovation.