New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)
The Blue of Distance
Founders: George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief: Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress: Rosemary Dunleavy
Children’s Ballet Master: Dena Abergel
Orchestra, Music Director: Andrew Litton
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects: Robert Daniels
Associate Dir. Communications: Katharina Plumb
Communications Associate: Kina Poon
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 30, 2015
(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews.)
Polaris (World Premiere): Music by William Walton (“Allegramente” from the Piano Quintet in D minor) , Choreography by Myles Thatcher, Costumes by Zuhair Murad, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Musicians: Kurt Nikkanen on Violin, Maureen Gallagher on Viola, Fred Zlotkin on Cello, Alan Moverman on Piano, Performed by Tiler Peck, Craig Hall, Emilie Gerrity, Ashly Isaacs, Daniel Applebaum, Andrew Scordato, Ghaleb Kayali, Taylor Stanley.
Tonight was the Fall Gala, and, as City Ballet has created a tradition, fashion designers created the costumes for four World Premieres. This is always an exciting feature, and I was thrilled to be in attendance. Unlike my usual orchestra seat, I was perched right above the orchestra, able to watching the arriving crowds in high fashion, the musicians warming up, and the four debut performances, as well as the ever-gorgeous Thou Swell, in its one performance for this year.
Zuhair Murad’s costumes for Myles Thatcher’s Polaris (we were treated to films about the costume creations for all four ballet debuts) were all sky blue, shimmering, short pleated tutus, with high necks for women, and a similar, silvery costume for Tiler Peck, in her role as muse. The men wore sleeveless, deeper blue, button shirts and blue tights. [The initial evocation was a memory of the perfumy imagery of the curtain opening onto Serenade, with the Company all in billowy blue.] Four musicians play the chamber “Allegramente”, from Walton’s Piano Quintet in D minor, in the pit, while seven dancers create non-symmetrical figures, with Tiler Peck wandering, dreamily, through and around the choreographic shapes. Mr. Thatcher, like the other featured choreographers with premieres in tonight’s Gala, is a rising star, in his case, a Corps member of the San Francisco Ballet. Although this work is brief, and tonight was my first viewing, I was transported by the streamlined musicality of the chamber score and by the mesmerizing shapes of dancers in blue. Other than the strongly present Ms. Peck, Craig Hall and Taylor Stanley particularly caught my eye.
The Blue of Distance (World Premiere): Music by Maurice Ravel (“Oiseaux tristes” and “Une Barque sur l’Océan” from Miroirs), Choreography by Robert Binet, Costumes by Hanako Maeda of ADEAM, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Solo Pianist: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Rebecca Krohn, Sara Mearns, Tyler Angle, Harrison Ball, Preston Chamblee, Gonzalo Garcia.
For the Robert Binet premiere, The Blue of Distance, expanding the theme of blue, Hanako Maeda of ADEAM created tutus with nude necklines and differentiated deep blue bodices for women, and white, layered, tulle skirts. From a distance, as the title says, the bodices looked like plunging blue necklines. And, the men were in deeper blue, sleeveless leotards and matching tights. Elaine Chelton, solo pianist, performed “Oiseaux tristes” and “Une Barque sur l’Océan” from Ravel’s Miroirs. Ms. Chelton created glistening tonalities, like frozen droplets of rain melting into a pond. The three women, Sara Mearns, Sterling Hyltin, and Rebecca Krohn, were all stunning, while leaning in, en pointe, toward their partners, Tyler Angle, Gonzalo Garcia, and Preston Chamblee, holding onto their arms or falling into an embrace. At other moments, partners walk toward stage rear, in parallel rhythm. Harrison Ball takes a more punctuated and energized role as a central character. Mr. Binet, Choreographic Associate of the National Ballet of Canada, has a bright future.
Common Ground (World Premiere): Music by Ellis Ludwig Leone (Commissioned by NYCB), Choreography by Troy Schumacher, Costumes by Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida of Marques’Almeida, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Performed by Ashley Laracey, Alexa Maxwell, Teresa Reichlen, Joseph Gordon, Anthony Huxley, Russell Janzen, Amar Ramasar.
For Troy’ Schumacher’s (Mr. Schumacher is in City Ballet’s Corps) premiere, Common Ground, the full orchestra was in the pit, with Andrews Sill conducting Ellis Ludwig Leone’s newly commissioned score, titled for this ballet. The Marques-Almeida duo designers created costumes for men, with loose white pants and differentiated tops of colorful chiffony scarves sewn together, in varying shapes and sizes. Women were solely in the scarf costumes, some with sewn sleeves, some sleeveless. Costumes seemed fashioned from attic trunks, casual, fantastical, and imaginative. Tiny lights, rear stage, expand on the ballet’s title. Partnered lifts and jubilant jumps are vivid, as well as an uneven ensemble circle of uplifted arms, while balancing on one leg. Also new in this ballet was Russell Janzen’s darker hair, giving him a nicely sharpened persona.
New Blood (World Premiere): Music by Steve Reich ((Variations for Vibes, Piano, and Strings), Choreography by Justin Peck, Costumes by Humberto Leon of Opening Ceremony and Kenzo, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Performed by Peter Walker, Brittany Pollack, Taylor Stanley, David Prottas, Kristen Segin, Claire Kretzschmar, Lauren King, Daniel Applebaum, Andrew Veyette, Georgina Pazcoguin, Meagan Mann, Ashley Bouder, Adrian Danchig-Waring.
Justin Peck, a Company Soloist, is also Resident Choreographer. His newest work in premiere tonight was New Blood, with a score by Steve Reich (Variations for Vibes, Piano, and Strings). Mr. Sill conducted once again. An ensemble of thirteen actually brings out the two leads, both Principals, Ashley Bouder and Adrian Danchig-Waring, after the other eleven, one of whom is also a Principal, Andrew Veyette. Humberto Leon, of Opening Ceremony and Kenzo, designed the costumes. The rousing ovation for this new ballet, right before the intermission, attests to the dynamic energy and propulsive feats inherent in Mr. Peck’s choreography. In line with the previous work’s costumes, the Leon-fashioned leotards and tights seemed cut and sewn from a trunk full of leotards and tights, with different colors on torsos and one or both legs. Plus, key to this visual aspect of New Blood was the makeup design, with much pink on the eyelids and nude or brown lipstick, etc. The dancers seemed avant-garde. I found this ballet effusively electric, serendipitous in movement and connectivity, and fully youthful. Even the three stalwart Principals danced with driven pulse and joyous personality. Soloists, Taylor Stanley and Georgina Pazcoguin, were each exceptionally compelling..
Thou Swell (2003): . Music by Richard Rodgers, Music Arranged by Gene Kelly, Orchestrations by Don Sebesky, Choreography by Peter Martins, Scenery by Robin Wagner, Costumes by Peter Copping of Oscar de le Renta, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Guest Singers, Norm Lewis and Rebecca Luker, Trio, Alan Moverman on Piano, Ron Wasserman on Bass, James Saporito on Drums, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Robert Fairchild, Rebecca Krohn, Amar Ramasar, Sara Mearns, Jared Angle, Teresa Reichlen, Ask la Cour, and the Company.
Peter Martins’ Thou Swell was, as always, la crème de la crème. And, for tonight’s one-time-only performance, we were treated to bright, new costumes by Peter Copping of Oscar de le Renta. Plus, the master singers, Norm Lewis and Rebecca Luker, were on hand to perform the Richard Rodgers tunes, like “This Can’t Be Love’, “Isn’t It Romantic”, “Blue Moon”, among many, including the title tune, “Thou Swell”. Mr. Lewis has been highly praised on these pages in reviews of “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” and Sondheim on Sondheim. Ms. Luker was highly praised on these pages for her role in the musical, Death Takes a Holiday. As always, Alan Moverman, Ron Wasserman, and James Saporito were the trio onstage on piano, bass, and drums. Robin Wagner’s nightclub set, with lounge tables and chairs, as well as a sparkling dance floor and musician’s stage, is breathtaking, on each viewing, even more this time.
Each partnered dance was thrilling, with Mr. Copping’s dazzling new costumes, especially Sterling Hyltin’s short green, fringe-whipping-in-the-wind, retro dress. Ms. Hyltin was partnered in a special appearance of Robert Fairchild, who had a night off from his starring lead on Broadway, in An American in Paris (with high praise on these pages). Mr. Fairchild and Ms. Hyltin seized the stage and never let go. The men, in black, were on fire tonight, making the most of the high-rhythm, dance tunes. But, Mr. Fairchild wins the wow-award, with dizzying spins, dashes, and Broadway-ballroom partnering extraordinaire. Yet, kudos to Amar Ramasar and Rebecca Krohn (in a cut-out, long, fuchsia gown and darker fuchsia, furry stole) who grabbed the attention in dance after dance. The musical arrangements and orchestrations are rapturous. Teresa Reichlen was eloquently partnered by Ask la Cour, and Sara Mearns was attentively partnered by Jared Angle. Both women were bejeweled in finery and wore sumptuous gowns, dancing as if in a dream. The Corps took the roles of coquette-servers and bartenders, a stage full of joy. I was so caught up in the moment, and with Mr. Lewis and Ms. Luker singing so sumptuously, it was difficult to take notes.
Kudos to Peter Martins, and kudos to the Company, Orchestra, and Guest and Company Artists for an exceptional Fall Gala.
Sara Mearns and Tyler Angle
in Robert Binet's "The Blue of Distance"
in costumes by Hanako Maeda of ADEAM
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik
New York City Ballet
in Troy Schumacher’s "Common Ground"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik