Performing Arts: Dance
May 8, 2017
Flashlights announced NYC Ballet’s Spring Gala featuring women in shimmering gowns and men in lightly bedazzled tuxedos. Despite the colorful visual display, the main event of the evening was a premiere by Alexei Ratmansky.

A major choreographic contributor to the NYC Ballet, his Russian roots make his work a natural extension to George Balanchine. Once considered for the role of resident-choreographer, Ratmansky chose American Ballet Theater as his home. But in so many instances, Ratmansky looks most “at home” when he creates ballets for the New York City Ballet.

Up to this point, Ratmansky has displayed a long-winded, fecund choreographic imagination that can be over-stimulating. In contrast to previous works, “Odessa” to a score by Leonid Dsyantnikov registers an internal mystery heightened by Mark Stanley’s lighting.

In a silent, serpentine pattern, the Ancient Greek styled chorus of daners comment on the three primary couples. Each pair expresses an individualized dynamics exuding amour and tension in the lifts and partnering that pulls couples in tight before the sharp release. Tyler Peck gamely springs into action, demonstrating her energized ability to dance on top of the notes while Taylor Stanley, exhibiting a strong stage presence, expertly flips and turns Ms. Peck. Good at mating dancers, Ratmansky pairs the romantically lyrical Mearns who flattens and folds her supple body around her attentive partner Amar Ramasar.

At one point, Sterling Hyltin is passed in mid-air from one man to another, and when she regains her partner, Joaquin De Luz, she slaps him. That catches the audience by surprise, in part, because it’s difficult to determine the root of the slap and in part because suddenly, this dream-like dance rips into a violent, realistic action.

The women wear short, full-skirted dresses and the men sport black pants and shirts by Kesso Dekker that flair nicely when a tango melody courses through the community’s conversation urging legs to flick under taut backs that twist in and around hips.

Moody and deeply touching, Odessa is one Ratmansky ballet that holds onto a strong internal rhythm making the running time feel “just right!”

Surrounding the première was the colorful “Jeu de Cartes” by Peter Martins featuring a strong, upcoming young me Harrison Ball, Joseph Gordon and Aaron Sanz. Christopher Wheeldon’s melancholic “After The Rain” originally created for Wendy Whelan is performed by the willowy Maria Kowroski and Ask LaCour and the trio of dances is capped by the showpiece “Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux” danced with thrilling ease by Ashley Bouder who’s partnered by Andrew Veyette.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

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