NYCB SPRING GALA
May 10, 2014
Much has happened since Lincoln Center was inaugurated in a 1964. NYC ballet became an internationally renowned ballet company, The New York State Theater changed names and the company founders-- George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein are gone but their legacy lives large.
These monumental events were celebrated during NYCB's 2014 gala. In a tasteful salute, all the evening's guests were given flutes of sparkling wine, and a small bottle of vodka to toast the evening. After viewing a short archival film capturing an elated Balanchine, Kirstein and dancer Jacques d'Amboise on the opening night, Peter Martins called onto the stage—to great applause-- dancers who were members of the company in1964.
Two trumpeters faced off playing “Fanfare for a New Theater” by Stravinsky, and then the National Anthem sounded from the elevated orchestra pit. Before the dance, Kristen Bell and Aaron Lazar sang “If I Loved You” from the grand musical “Carousel” to honor one of the theater’s original residents—Richard Rodgers’ Musical Theater of Lincoln Center.
And at last, the dancing ensued. In a nearly flawless performance, Sarah Mearns soared through Balanchine's still fresh “Allegro Brillante” (1964). Partnered by a confident, technically solid Jared Angle, Mearns let loose through wide arcing back bends releasing into arabesque plunges and turns fanning out and ending in airy balances.
Happily, instead of hiring a celebrity artist, Peter Martins commissioned a new work by the NYC Ballet dancer and budding choreographer, Justin Peck. Already scrutinized under a bright spotlight, Peck’s “Everywhere We Go” was worthy of a gala premiere celebrating the future of NYC Ballet.
Broken into nine “Musical Moments” the initial image, repeated at the end, presents three women standing directly in front of three men, palm covering their eyes and yes, reminiscent of the Balanchine’s “Serenade” where the woman stands behind the man and covers his eyes.
After that, stillness is rare. Three couples, Sterling Hyltin and Andrew Veyette, Maria Kowroski and Robert Fairchild plus Tiler Peck and Amar Ramasar anchor the large-scale production executed in front of a geometric back drop by Karl Jensen that morphs like a computer game. Perpendicular lines of dancers break up the space forming “L’s” rather than the more traditional diagonal or horizontal patterns.
Although the choreography breaks into surging waves of motion, there are recurring images like women lying on their backs, legs pointed to the sky and used by the men for support. (The women form the same geometric shape – an “L” as the first croup of dancers.) In keeping with the general rush of movement, women fly through the air, landing on a cluster of up stretched arms only to melt into the floor when the music sags.
The duets demand and get, reckless trust dancing in tight synchronization only to snap apart. In particular, Ramasar asserts his cocky, urban street-wise swagger next to Pecks’s brisk, all-American form. All the couples are well matched and bring a vivacious glow to “Everywhere We Go.”
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis