February 4, 2022
After a minor delay due to COVID, NYC Ballet opened its doors to dance lovers eager to bask in company premieres and classics. Season festivities bounced open with the premiere of Justin Peck's sneaker ballet Partita. Enriched by Caroline Shaw's thoroughly intriguing a cappella composition Partita for 8 Voices performed live by Roomful of Teeth, a tribe of 8 dancers mirror the vocals. Dressed in casual shorts, tops and tights, by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung, the energized dancers slither through Eva Lewitts whimsical set design of colorful, scalloped fringe.
Frequently cast as the breathing center of Peck's ballets, the serene Taylor Stanley breezes into view, chest open and arms extended in a meditative embrace joined by Harrison Coll. in contrast, Tyler Peck sparkles into action, legs clicking out layered tempi. Overall, these two artists encapsulate the ballet's ethos.
Always able to tap into NYCB dancers' youthful exuberance, Peck's colloquial moves feed into ballet extensions and voguing style arms signaling cryptic messages. A strong cast, India Bradley and Claire Kretzschmar unite in a fluid duet built on mutual support while Ashley Hod, Roman Mejia and Chun Wai Chan generate a splash!
Taking a post-modernist turn, NYCB performed Merce Cunningham's elegant "Summerspace." Originated in 1958, the pastel colored pointillist backdrop merges into the moving bodies covered in unitards of a similar palette created by Robert Rauschenberg.
The demanding vocabulary is surrounded by Morton Feldman's Ixion, a sound score filtered with sounds of nature.Stillness and spatial awareness penetrate the leggy combinations spilling out over internal meters. Dispensing with visible preparations, dancers instantaneously pop up on one leg, into a stag leap with foot to crotch. This happens not just once, but three times in a row!
Torsos float over elongated legs poised on top rotating limbs. Despite the foreignness of the vocabulary, the dancers fearlessly navigate the angular terrain even if the torsos lack a bit of the top-of-spine contraction and fluidity.
Nevertheless, a bond exists between Balanchine and Cunningam's focus on legs, feet, directional changes and speed. Considering the amount of time they've spent living with a decidedly post modern dance language, the company's facility in Summerspace is quite remarkable. You can see their brains working.
The evening closes on DGV:Danse a Grande Vitesse a mysterious, dystopian looking ballet by Christopher Wheeldon. Originally a NYCB ballet dancer and choreographer who has successfully transferred his talents to Broadway, Wheeldon's ballets are always smartly crafted and joined to strong visual elements. In this case, the undulating, silver sheet by Jean-Marc Puissant exudes an industrial hardness.
Wheeldon generates pools of activity breaking up his 26 dancers into discrete units working in contrapuntal relationships against four central duets.
Originally created for the Royal Ballet in 2006, the ballet is set to a strong score by Michael Nyman written in 1993 to "commemorate the 1993 inauguration of the north European line of the French 'train a grande vitess' -- otherwise known as the TVG." Despite intriguing combinations bubbling up in different spatial pockets, a chill permeates the onstage community.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis