Performing Arts: Dance
September 30, 2017
“If I hadn’t danced “The Cage” (by Jerome Robbins) I would have never had the courage to choreograph.”

And by the looks of it during the NYC Ballet Fall Fashion Gala, it’s a good thing Lauren Lovette discovered a different vocabulary of movement in The Cage -- ugly, deformed, threatening -- that allowed her to investigate choreography. Not that any of those asymmetrical movements materialize in her newest work Not Our Fate handsomely costumes by fashion designers Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim of MONSE to a melodic score by Michael Nyman, but a sense of self does emerge.

Lovette joined another young woman, Gianna Reisen as well as Troy Schumacher and the now “established” Justin Peck in premièring works during the NYC Ballet Fall Fashion Gala that pairs fashion designers with choreographers. What has become a hallmark of this event is the showcasing of young ballet choreographers, many of whom are alumni of the New York Choreographic Institute.

Geometric designs in pastels by Jonathan Saunders covered Schumacher’s upbeat ballet The Wind Still Brings to music by William Walton. Ballet technique is infused with modern dance style “fall and recovery” making the floor a partner in the ballet. A sense of youthful buoyancy prevails, but there’s still a search for the central focus.

The eighteen year-old SAB graduate Gianna Reisen delivered a bright entry Composer’s Holiday to music by Lucas Foss plus material-heavy costumes by Virgil Abloh of Off-White. She demonstrated a good understanding of the craft, establishing kinetic tableaus reminiscent of reunion photographs and then splitting the image into fluttering parts.

In Lovette’s “Not Our Fate” movement fluidly opens from one couple to a group, effortlessly pairing two women and two men in between mixed couples. Although there is clear evidence of her Balanchine upbringing, Lovette also injects an urban flair suggesting “West Side Story” or young people flexing their vigor. White, full back-drop skirts synched by black corsets flattered the women flanked by men in simple black pants and white shirts.

In a smart move, Martins separated the ballets by pauses and no intermissions. The audience responded enthusiastically to the well-paced and curated program that closed on Justin Peck’s Pulcinella Variations to Igor Stravinsky’s well-known score and Diaghilev/Bauhaus inspired costumes by Tsumori Chisato.

Unlike the other choreographers, Peck cast many company principals—but in fairness, he grew up with these dancers -- they are his friends. Each duet was encased in its own texture and personality highlighting the talents of each dancer. The luxurious Sara Mearns and Jared Angle danced the “Serenata” that featured long arabesques and pensive holds, while the musically plucky Tyler Peck and an athletically clean Gonzalo Garcia bounded through the “Gavotte.”

Peck is not the first to look back at ballet’s historical roots for inspiration, and it served him well because he pulled back and focused on a single, unifying idea driven of course, by the music. Already a sharp craftsman, Pulcinella Variations shows him as a more settled, confident choreographer.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

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