NEW YORK THEATRE BALLET
October 4, 2015
Since 1978, Diana Byer has maintained a standard of excellence for her New York Theatre Ballet company, and she carved a niche with her clear mission: “to perform small classic masterpieces and new contemporary works for adults and ballets for children, all at affordable prices.” The training she provides keeps her company crisp, with terrific costumes by Sylvia Taalsohn Nolan. After thirty-three years housed in the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, NYTB had to move to the St. Marks Church under the wing of Danspace.
This program at Danspace gave you a successive view of relationships withheld, implied, and exclaimed. Where else could one see dancers perform with alacrity such an extreme stretch of styles, meeting the technical demands of Merce Cunningham, David Parker, Lois Bewley, and Nicolo Fonte, as well as the emotional innocence of Agnes de Mille? Also, refreshingly, Byer provides lives music, the NYTB musical director Michael Scales on piano, Margarita Krein on violin for Kevin Keller’s haunting composed for Fonte’s “There, and Back Again,” and Darren Chase singing with the robust fullness of a red wine.
Cunningham’s trio Cross Currents made in 1964 with fantastically chaotic music by Conlon Nancarrow was the standout. His signature clarity and intensity grabs one from the start. Parker’s “Two Timing” performed by Elena Zahlmann with clapping by Jeffrey Kazin has a dry, percussive wit. Bewley’s Pir2 showed off the dancers, particularly Mayu Oguri and Steven Melendez. Brooklyn born Fonte’s “There, and Back Again” mysteriously implies unseen forces.
After seeing excerpts from Agnes de Mille’s choreography for The Dream Ballet from Rodgers and Hammerstein, Another Autumn from Lerner and Loewe’s “Paint Your Wagon,” and Hornpipe from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, Byers invited the President and Executive Director of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Theodore S. Chapin, to speak. He remarked that most requests for the rights to stage the above works involve permission to change De Mille’s choreography. Given the rare opportunity to see the original, he thought it was admired presented by NYTB.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deirdre Towers