Performing Arts: Dance
September 23, 2016
Even before all the juicy red tomatoes have fallen off their stems, autumn’s dance season arrives. On a warm, humid evening, NYC Ballet's Gala inaugurated it’s pre-Nutcracker season by celebrating young choreographers. In a departure from previous years, two of the four choreographers were women. All in all, the evening was an uplifting view of a ballet company that has done more than any other in its league to promote a new generation of ballet choreographers.

Engaging film clips introduce each piece by offering a glimpse into the collaborative process between selected fashion designer, choreographer and the indefatigable Mark Happel, NYC Ballet's costume master.

One of the company’s fast rising ballerinas, Lauren Lovette struck first. “For Clara“ set to Robert Schumann features seventeen dancers in light, fluid costumes by Narciso Rodriguez. Choreographically pleasing, Lovette finds novel patterns for the corps. Bodies float up and down when men lift their partners in contrast to the lead couple. Repeated in various ways, it forms a compelling stage architecture that speaks to a lively mind.

Now a choreographer of note, NYC Ballet member Justin Peck scaled down his ballet “The Dreamers” to match two excellent principals, Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar in dowdy costumes by Dries Van Noten. Clearly a capable craftsman of regenerative talent, Peck’s sweeping arcs wrap the couples together, forming a rousing sense of familiarity and excitement to a score by Czechoslovakian composer Bohuslav Martinu.

In the introductory film clip, NYC Ballet corps member, Peter Walker expresses a strong personality that emerges in his choreography. The black outfits lined in white stripes by Jason Wu, suit the contemporary ballet executed in toe shoes and soft slippers. Legs spread wide-apart stretch into pointed then flexed feet punctuated by pop-up jumps peppered by women spinning and dipping in soft slippers. Rather than looking like a self-conscious merging of forms “then in seven” was a smooth, confident investigation of modern and ballet’s commonality set to a spunky, modern jazz score performed on stage by Thomas Kikta, Arkadiy Figlin, Raymond Mase and James Spaorito.

In comparison to the first four, rather brief but satisfying pieces, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s contribution nearly filled the second half. Her choice brought her in contact with the animated Rosie Assoulin. The attractive, supple black and white outfits designed either as vests or jackets with a swing skirt add to the dancers’ appeal. Working mainly in duets surrounded by corps, the hearty ballet allows the dancers to shine in breathable choreography that was expansive, yet local.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

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