May 7, 2014
Skin-tight sequenced outfits jostled against Dior suits when NYCB offered a copious evening of dance.
The major draw mated Lil Buck (the Jookin' sensation), New York City Ballet and JR the French street artist with an assist by Peter Martins in “Les Bouquets.” Moody music by Woodkid reminiscent of Philip Glass “light” introduces a large crowd of dancers shooting across the stage. Women crouched on men's arms project one leg -- rifle style. Polka-dot unitard clad dancers break into two competing gangs slit by a ballerina (Lauren Lovette) in a white, paper mâché tutu. Perhaps Lovette’s the civilizing force?
Then, along comes the man in white outfit and white sneakers moon walking backwards, and fluidly sliding up to his toes, arms fluttering like a frightened swan. The two exchange steps--she speaks ballet, he struts street talk. At one point a video floods the back scrim showing close-ups of their faces and body parts – a bit overwrought and completely unnecessary. In the final moments, the dance corps returns and stretches out on the front lip of the stage to audience gasps at the pointillist painting created by the black and white unitards.
“Barber Violin Concerto” by Peter Martins also contrasted modern dance and ballet idioms. The two NYC ballet couples were fine; particularly Megan Fairchild in a frisky, nonstop action role, but Jared Angle could have used more weight and angularity. Sara Mearns exudes her usual flow of breath through each gesture and Ask la Cour served as a stalwart partner.
“Herman Schmerman Pas de Deux “by William Forsythe pits Maria Kowroski and Amar Ramasar in a parallel dance while pinpointing them in high-contrast lighting. Slick body shifts and vertical spins to floor-drops butt next to tight balletic steps and casual movements. Suddenly a leg snaps in the air, forging a taut balletic line. Jostling for position, they slink around in balletic street dance moves (Ramasar is particularly adept) and swagger off stage to the audience’s enthusiastic applause.
In a return to the stage after surgery, Wendy Whelan was poignant in an excerpt from Christopher Wheeldon’s “This Bitter Earth” sung by the great Dinah Washington. Her devoted partner, Tyler Angle added warmth to the supportive duet.
The final epic showcased the company's dramatic and technical aplomb in Alexei Ratmansky's “Namouna, A grand Divertissement” to the lush music of Edouard Lalo. A series of vignettes pitch the main character, Robert Fairchild (wearing a sailor’s outfit) in a fairyland world where evil bands and seductive women (donning much parodied head-gear resembling loud swim caps) try to interrupt his journey.
In one of the funniest diversions, Ashley Bouder dangles a cigarette from her mouth while executing a Bette Davis style, “I don't give a damn” dance along with a corps of three cigarette-puffing damsels. Despite the choreographic ingenuity and top-notch performances by by all the leads, “Namouna” outstays its welcome when several false endings——swerve into one more divertissement.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis