Claudia Schreier & Company
Claudia Schreier, Choreographer
Winner of the 2014 Breaking Glass Project
The Ailey Citigroup Theater
(Ailey Studios Web Page)
Company: Daniel Applebaum, Da’Von Doane, Kaitlyn Gilliland,
Drew Grant, Elinor Hitt, Lauren King, Nayara Lopes,
Francis Lawrence, Amber Neff, Elizabeth Claire Walker,
Craig Wasserman, Lydia Wellington, Stephanie Williams
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 8, 2015
All Choreography by Claudia Schreier.
Almost Morning (World Premiere): Music, “Almost Morning”, by Jeff Beale (World Premiere), music performed by Kieran Ledwidge on violin, Tia Allen on viola, Kirin McElwain on cello, Ta-Wei Yu on piano, Costumes by Lee Dieck and Yumiko, Lighting by Brandon Stirling Baker, Performed by Da’Von Doane, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Drew Grant, Francis Lawrence, Amber Neff, Elizabeth Claire Walker.
Harmonic (2013): Music, “Motion”, by Douwe Eisenga, Costumes by Katie Pivarnik, Lighting by Brandon Stirling Baker, Performed by Da’Von Doane, Elinor Hitt, Amber Neff, Stephanie Williams.
Anomie (2009): Music, “Prelude, Fugue, and Variation”, by César Franck, Costumes by Candice Thompson, Lighting by Brandon Stirling Baker, Performed by Daniel Applebaum, Drew Grant, Amber Neff, Elizabeth Claire Walker, Lydia Wellington.
Vigil (World Premiere): Music, “O Vos Omnes”, by Tomás Luis de Victoria, “Bogoroditse Devo” by Sergei Rachmaninoff, music performed by Tapestry, Costumes by Katie Pivarnik and Body Wrappers, Lighting by Brandon Stirling Baker, Performed by Elinor Hitt and Da’Von Doane.
Pulse (World Premiere): Music, “Piano Concerto Part 1”, by Douwe Eisenga, Costumes by Lee Dieck and Yumiko, Lighting by Brandon Stirling Baker, Performed by the Company.
Ellenore P. Scott, Co-Founder of The Breaking Glass Project (with Nathalie Matychak), has co-created a festival for “emerging female choreographers”, ages 18-30, so “they can grow and become successful”(BGP). The winners, each year, receive ongoing mentorship in administration and choreography, as well as funding assistance for a live audience performance. Claudia Schreier, Choreographer, won the 2014 Breaking Glass Project. Tonight, she presented an ensemble of high quality ballet dancers, performing five new or recent Schreier choreographies, a specially commissioned score by Jeff Beal, with a live chamber quartet, and a vocal a cappella score, performed by a full choir, Tapestry. Ms. Schreier has received a Harvard degree, along with this prestigious choreographic award, plus a Suzanne Farrell Dance Prize. Ms. Schreier’s ensemble Company is drawn from the Corps of American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, as well as Dance Theatre of Harlem, Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, and freelance.
The Ailey Citigroup Theater was packed tonight, given the crème de la crème dance talent to view, during the languid, off-season summer, and my eager anticipation was generously rewarded. Claudia Schreier is truly an artist to watch and an artist to support, in any way possible, as each work performed tonight was elegant, ebullient, gripping, and gorgeous. Almost Morning, a world premiere, was also scored to a musical premiere, by Jeff Beal, who later took a well-deserved bow. A lush chamber quartet, on piano and strings, plays the spellbinding, often atonal music. And, the choreography was also spellbinding, sealing the audience’s approval, early on. As always, the New York balletomanes, on viewing a new or visiting company, or a new choreography from a familiar company, sit silently, almost in a frieze, until the lights flash off or the curtain falls. Tonight was no exception, At the finale, the audience shouted accolades of joy.
Almost Morning introduced an ensemble of six, with the beloved Kaitlyn Gilliland, whom we had adored, when she was in the Corps of City Ballet. Her solo tonight was evocative of her rare and stunning, 2006 solo, Étoile Polaire, by Eliot Feld. Ms. Schreier designed pas de deux, pas de trois, and synchronized ensemble motion that made the most of Brandon Stirling Baker’s extraordinary lighting concepts. Dancers seemed illumined from within, like a Vermeer. There were no dramatic histrionics, but, rather, scintillating stretches, with fingers and arms held like wings in the moonlight. A toss or turn, here or there, was filled with inner rapture, but chemistry did subtly exist, to enhance the moment. Da’Von Doane, of Dance Theatre of Harlem, has been favorably reviewed on these pages, and tonight he was even more mature and poised, a partner sublime. Drew Grant (Atlantic Ballet Theatre) was striking with toned athleticism. Lee Dieck and Yumiko’s loose, two-piece, grey-blue costumes for women, and grey leotards for men expanded the fluidity of motion.
Speaking of motion, Harmonic, the work that garnered The Breaking Glass Project Award, choreographed in 2013, had, as a score, “Motion”, by Douwe Eisenga. This was a higher energy work, for an ensemble of four, with Mr. Eisenga’s recorded music evocative of Philip Glass. Arms became propellers, swinging in spiral formation. I could imagine the dual inspiration of Balanchine and Robbins on Ms. Schreier in this design. Katie Pivarnik’s deep blue unitards, trimmed in baby blue, added drama and depth. The choreography included kaleidoscopic imagery of a jagged line of dancers, arms straight out, all gazing at the audience. The Company was always in appropriate affect, smiling or intense, as the music and mood developed. Once again, Mr. Doane was dancing in astounding form, partnering Stephanie Williams with aplomb. Ms. Williams is a rising star with Ballet Theatre. Elinor Hitt and Amber Neff ( both with the Farrell Ballet) also caught my eye with their compelling, gestural presence.
Anomie, a 2009 ballet, brought out a New York favorite, Daniel Applebaum, from City Ballet, frequently and favorably spotlighted on these pages. He seemed different in his showcased moment tonight, on this intimate stage. Mr. Stirling Baker’s lighting reminded me of the moonlit, forestial scenes in Giselle and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Candice Thompson’s sky blue (women) and midnight blue (men) unitards continued the starry-dreamy, visual ambiance. César Franck’s recorded “Prelude, Fugue, and Variation”, a piano solo here, but often heard as an organ work, made this ballet sumptuous and rhapsodic. Featured among the ensemble of five, Mr. Applebaum supported and lifted Lydia Wellington and Elizabeth Claire Walker with refined sophistication. For City Ballet aficionados, this was significant, to see Mr. Applebaum, who’s so often one among many, to shine here with such resonance. There were choreographic moments of sliding along the floor, of sitting against a partner’s torso, legs out like a chair, frontal splits, and so on. I couldn’t take notes fast enough, so much drew my attention.
After intermission, the world premiere of Vigil was presented, with the exemplary a cappella choir, Tapestry, singing the tones of “O Vos Omnes” (de Victoria) and “Bogoroditse Devo” (Rachmaninoff). The choir, in black robes, stood in a semi-circle, dimly illuminated, like a backdrop of celestial constellations. Elinor Hitt danced this pas de deux with Da’Von Doane. They were ethereal and surreal, with arms and fingers creating linked, wing-like oval shapes, once again lit from within. Ms. Hitt was in total emotional abandon, as if otherworldly, and Mr. Doane had a nurturing, masculine quality of protectiveness. There was chemistry here. This, like the other works, should be seen again and soon. Ms. Pivarnik and Body Wrappers’ white, silky costumes for both dancers added to the spirituality of the gestalt.
Ms. Schreier’s final ballet, another world premiere, Pulse, was danced to Mr. Eisenga’s “Piano Concerto Part 1”, which also hinted at inspiration from Philip Glass. The shifts in direction with “pulse” are, at a glance, evocative of Peter Martins’ Hallelujah Junction, which has a John Adams score. Men wore two piece tights and tops in deep blue shades, and women wore leotards in green or blue, all by Lee Dieck and Yumiko. At one point, men create a line with bodies twisted in differing directions, arms out like airplane wings. The full ensemble was onstage, and we finally saw Lauren King, a City Ballet favorite, Nayara Lopes and Francis Lawrence (both Dance Theatre of Harlem), and Craig Wasserman (Pennsylvania Ballet). Again, we saw synchronized choreography, with two duos on either side, a solo dancer center stage front, à la Balanchine. A fantastic feature of this ensemble is that each dancer has a unique aura, shape, physicality, history, and mystery. Together they seem born at once, for this collaborative performance. Kudos to Claudia Schreier, kudos to The Breaking Glass Project, and kudos to all.
Kaitlyn Gilliland and Chamber Quartet in "Almost Morning"
Courtesy of Lauren Kaye
Elizabeth Claire Walker and Daniel Applebaum in "Anomie"
Courtesy of Nir Arieli
Amber Neff and Drew Grant in "Anomie"
Courtesy of Lauren Kaye
Elinor Hitt and Da'Von Doane in "Vigil"
Courtesy of Nir Arieli
Lauren King and Da'Von Doane in "Pulse"
Courtesy of Nir Arieli