NYC BALLET-Bournonville, Moves, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux
April 28, 2016
Ask any male New York City Ballet dancer of a certain age who was their most important influence, and they might agree with Edward Villella who pointed to Stanley Williams as his mentor during an interview on EYE ON DANCE (1988).
Born in London, but raised in Copenhagen, Williams was steeped in the Bournonville tradition of the Royal Danish Ballet. A renowned teacher, George Balanchine persuaded Williams to join the School of American Ballet faculty in 1964 where he held a premier position through the 1990’s.
Returning to his roots, Peter Martins, another Danish Ballet alum tapped his son Nilas Martins to stage Bournonville Divertissements choreographed by August Bournonville and originally staged by Stanley Williams in 1977.
Very close to the Balanchine technique, Brounonville style demands feathery quick feet, crisp, tight beats, an effortless jump or balon and utmost charm.
Trained to be fleet of foot, the company nevertheless pushed through the steps with more effort than élan. Broken into four sections, the “Ballabile” featured Erica Pereira and Troy Schumacher. A fine dancer and budding choreographer, Schumacher’s length dragged behind the beat and did not assume the technique’s buoyancy.
In the very popular “Pas de Deux” from the Flower Festival in Genzano,/i> Sara Mearns partnered by Tyler Angle suffered from the same malaise surrounding Schumacher. Always attractive with her expansive arms and mobile back, Mearns steps were weighted and not levitated by the mirthfully braided steps.
The “Pas de Six” fared better with a particularly bright India Woodward and the "Tarantella" closed the sunny piece that should gain more brightness as the season progresses.
Danced in silence, Jerome Robbins’ Moves,/i> (1984) is an experiment in modern forms for ballet dancers. Despite the lack of a music composition, the ballet travels over a percussive score played out by the dancers' feet. Sharply constructed, groups move in mirror formation, separate and snap back into clean poses, arms flashing up, and hands mysteriously covering eyes in asymmetrical groupings.
To close the opening night program of the spring season, NYC Ballet offered Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux with the sparkling Tiler Peck and Andrew Veyette. Although choreographed by George Balanchine (1960), stylistically, Peck and Veyette delivered the bright, technically demanding duet with a musicality and guileless execution missing from the Bournonville Divertissements.
Sandwiched in the middle of the program