NYC BALLET: New Combinations
February 6, 2017
Out of breath dancers swarm the stage outfitted in sneakers and a motley array of street clothes by Humberto Leon. Not a toe shoe in sight, Justin Peck’s new “The Times Are Racing” gamely stokes the ballet vocabulary with tap combinations that swings through sizzling urban contemporary dance slang.
The smell of asphalt found in Jerome Robbins' "West Side Story" permeates the intense chorus moving to the sounds of Dan Deacon. Full out runs slam to a stop, twist and turn into pounding rhythms that rise to arms waving over stumbling hops.
Tyler Peck’s urban tautness is juggled by the naturally street-smart Amar Ramasar. Not unlike the 1960’s R&B back-up singers, Brittany Pollack, Gretchen Smith, and Savannah Lowery comment on the central action in dips and hip clicks, pulling away from the swirling crowd and then re-inserting themselves into the tribe.
A combo tap, soft-shoe duet explodes with Broadway style sass and movement bling between Robert Fairchild and Justin Peck. Flipping up on his toes, spinning like the best of the street dancers, Fairchild sprays charisma, finishing on a display of tight technique.
Across from Fairchild, Justin Peck shows-off his own looseness and cool slides. It must feel fabulous dancing your heart out in your own dance. Not surprisingly, the audience whooped and hollered at a refreshing dance that spoke to the restlessness felt by many experiencing turmoil and doubt.
Although the title suggests another urban scaled dance, “The Shimmering Asphalt” by Pontus Lindberg designs a darker dance that mirrors one group of three men and one woman, Sara Mearns with a quartet of three women and one man, Taylor Stanley. Outfits by Rachael Quarmby-Spadaccini cover the men in shorts and tunics and the women in paneled, one-piece tunics. In a series of combinations, dancers connect in a like-minded ensembles allowing for individuals to separate, push up and away only to return over a terse score by David Lang.
The quiet drama fans over all the dancers who display themselves as individuals and incumbent units, but the piece’s inner musicality rarely reaches beyond the stage.
Dropped into program of world premieres, rose a piece choreographed in 1988, “Fearful Symmetries” reminding everyone that Peter Martins contributed some lasting works to the NYC Ballet repertory. Performed with vigor by a cast that included impressive corps members like Emelie Gerrity, Unity Phelan, and Harrison Coll, it illuminates the company’s ever- increasing dominance as the ballet-company-to-watch. “Fearful Symmetries” taps into Martins’ choreographic strengths.
A post-modern ballet vocabulary strikes into cool, angular shapes engineered into appealing duets and solos that highlight youthful exuberance. Set to a churning score by John Adams, the locomotive undercurrent is reflected in the keenly athletic, technically demanding choreography that takes spins in one direction and flips them into leg snaps and leaps. Partnering is fast, the action is fast, the dance is breathless. One of Martins’ strongest.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis