2019 BALLET FESTIVAL
August 15, 2019
In the summer, ballet spreads out from the Lincoln Center compound to summer festivals and for three weeks, at the Joyce Theater. Ballet Festival 2019 spotlights ballet by top tier ballet professionals intent on enlarging their artistic experiences.
Kevin O’Hare, director of The Royal Ballet, was invited to curate this year’s 5th edition of the Joyce Ballet Festival. Divided into 4 programs, O’Hare shared curatorial responsibilities with Royal Ballet Principals Lauren Cuthbertson and Edward Watson plus designer Jean-Marc Puissant.
Program A, designed by Kevin O’Hare, bulged with sparkling contributions by Sir Frederick Ashton, Kenneth MacMillan and Christopher Wheeldon. There were additional excerpts of contributions by Charlotte Edmonds, Wayne McGregor and Liam Scarlett.
In a demonstration of elegance and pathos, Ashton’s Dance of the Blessed Spirits -- performed splendidly by Joseph Sissens -- is an expansive solo that makes the space around the body feel tangible. While traveling in long, serene strides, arms generously open punctuated by pristine directional changes and an airy composure.
Known for his popular full-length ballet Romeo and Juliet Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto Pas de Deux delicately constructs an intensely guided duet between Lauren Cuthbertson and Nicole Edmonds. Built on a lyrically supported adagio, the two, seamlessly moving bodies rarely separated.
Another romantic entrée, Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour Pas de Deux challenged the dancers while showing-off their finer skills.
For the grand denouement, Romany Pajdak eloquently performed Ashton’s Five Braham Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan. Simultaneously controlled and abandoned, her lithe torso led the body’s fluid expressivity, creating an airstream of terpsichorean fancy.
Program B was dominated by Maurice Bejart’s The Wayfarer exquisitely performed by David Hallberg and Joseph Gordon. Expertly paired, the two men kinetically spoke the same language, equally mastering the demanding balances and sharp pivots while buoyantly easing through space. Echoing each other’s gestures, Hallberg shadowed the younger Gordon, until they finally linked hands, and Hallberg guideed him into the darkness. A haunting duet, The Wayfarer deserves to be performed many more times in NYC.
The rest of the program displayed the prodigious talents of all the dancers through Emma Bond’s engaging large group premiere Then and Again as well as Kenneth MacMillan’s jolly dance hall caper Elite Syncopations set to jaunty Scott Joplin rags.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis