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 Post subject: Re: New York Theater Ballet
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:17 pm 
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In the Financial Times, Apollinaire Scherr reviews the Wednesday, February 18, 2015 performance at New York Live Arts. The program included Merce Cunningham's "Cross Currents," Pam Tanowitz' "Double Andante" and Keith Michael's "Alice -in-Wonderland Follies."

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 Post subject: Re: New York Theater Ballet
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:10 pm 
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In the New York Times, Alastair Macaulay reviews the "Legends & Visionaries" program, which also includes Nicolo Fonte's "There, and Back Again."

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 Post subject: Re: New York Theater Ballet
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:09 am 
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New York Theatre Ballet
New York Live Arts
New York, New York

February 19, 2015
“Double Andante,” “Cross Currents,” “There, And Back Again,” “Alice-in-Wonderland Follies”

-- by Jerry Hochman

In the latest program in its ‘Legends and Visionaries’ series, and the first to be performed at New York Live Arts in Chelsea, New York Theatre Ballet continues to present ‘little’ (and no so little) dances that connect dance past with dance present, and to enlighten audiences with the sheer variety of its programing (one classic revival; one repertory revival, and two new pieces) and competence of its dancers. It’s exciting to watch this little company – even on a night with sub-zero windchill.

Particularly exciting for me is the opportunity to see dances for the first time, or anew in a different context, as was the case with NYTB’s resurrection of certain dances by James Waring, its brilliant version of Antony Tudor’s “Dark Elegies,” and, a few short months ago, its crystalline production of Jerome Robbins’s “Rondo”. Last night NYTB did the impossible. It made me reconsider my response to Merce Cunningham.

I’ve often written that I’m not a Cunningham fan. Although I recognize his contribution to the art and his place in the dance pantheon, as an audience member I care less about innovation and avant-garde experimentation than I do about visual and intellectual stimulation, regardless of the choreographic label. Of those Cunningham pieces I’ve seen (and aside from ABT’s production of “Duets,” which I appreciated but didn’t find particularly entertaining), I’ve found them deadly dull. But maybe I just saw an unrepresentative sampling of his dances.

“Cross Currents,” an early Cunningham piece (1964) that NYTB has now revived, is different, and it’s shockingly good.

A trio of dancers move in space to music by Conlon Nancarrow (“Rhythm Studies for Player Piano”). The operative word is ‘move’. These dancers are not static, posing bodies; on the contrary, there’s virtually non-stop movement. And there’s some semblance of interaction – not a thematic connection, but a musical, movement connection. Although they’re independent entities, cross-currents of movement, the three dancers at times move in sync with one or both others, or slightly off sequence, as they traverse the stage. Or they pair off; or one dances solo. And the movement has significant variety. Even though the dancers are barefoot, there’s a mixture of feverish movement and walking, of balletic lyricism as well as angularity, and an abundance of pure, exhilarating, fiendish speed. Moving that fast and that intricately, with the precision and relative stiffness that the choreography demands, was a stretch for these three, but Amanda Treiber, Alexis Branagan, and Choong Hoon Lee delivered.

My only complaint is that the piece doesn’t end. At some point, the dancers move offstage right and disappear into the wings, while the music continues, as if the dancers were simply passing through a space into which background music is being continuously broadcast. But that aside, and although my admiration for it may be a product of its being ‘early’ Cunningham, before his technique became more orthodox, this was galvanizing dance theater, despite having no ‘story’ no physical connection among the dancers, and making no effort to connect on any emotional or pseudo-emotional level with the audience. It worked because it never stopped looking interesting and visually exciting. And I’m in NYTB’s debt for opening my eyes.

Equally exciting, but less of a revelation, was Pam Tanowitz’s “Double Andante,” which opened the program. Although the piece, which premiered the previous night, features a small army of twelve dancers, it’s like “Cross Currents” in that it's plotless, has a sense of angularity, and is fast-paced, precision dance. But it’s not at all derivative (even though Ms. Tanowitz has Cunningham roots). On the contrary, there’s a balletic flow to it, and there are connections of sorts between the dancers, usually as changing pairs. Choreographed to Beethoven’s “Sonata in D Major Opus 28. (‘Pastorale’) ll. Andante,” the piece is somber, but not mournful, and carries a hint of wistfulness. Strangers on a stage; connections made but not kept.

"Double Andante" opens with Ms. Treiber in front of a curtain, alone, moving to some inner direction. The curtain behind her subsequently opens to reveal a stage filled with dancers, all individual entities. Ms. Treiber walks to one dancer, apparently making some minimal effort to connect, and then the dance more formally begins. The movement quality is programmed, with each dancer appearing to do his or her own thing – but the result isn’t a hodgepodge. Rather, it’s life, or a slice of it in time, reduced to its individual essence, with the stage populace moving unpredictably but not uniquely, and sometimes connecting with others (pairings dominate); sometimes not. Ms. Tanowitz uses the entire stage, and has her dancers twist, turn, pose, shimmy, lie down, rise up, and through it all move as if they were navigating prescribed pathways. A choreographed equivalent, perhaps, of Piet Mondrian’s “Broadway Boogie Woogie.”

The work is fairly evenly distributed among the cast, but I particularly liked the effort by the company veterans, Ms. Treiber and Elena Zahlmann, both of whom had exceptional nights, and Ms. Branagan, who dances with a burning intensity. I note also that the piece had an ‘Assistant to the Choreographer’ – a title I do not previously recall seeing. The assistant was Ashley Tuttle, a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre.

“There and Back Again,” choreographed by Nicolo Fonte to a commissioned score by Kevin Keller, is inspired by the Grimm fairy tale, “Hansel and Gretel.” Although I didn’t find it particularly successful in its distillation of the story (compared to, say, Limon’s “The Moor’s Pavane,” which also distills the story and has four characters that are not identified as characters from the play, but is crystal clear in its plot depiction), on its own terms it was an interesting piece to watch, vividly performed by Ms. Treiber (‘A Witch’ – essentially a hybrid Stepmother and Witch from the original Grimm fairy tale), Ms. Zahlmann (‘A Girl’ – Gretel), Michael Wells (‘Her Brother’ – Hansel), and Steven Melendez (‘Their Father’).

Mr. Keller's score for piano and violin is a winner. It provides exactly the right amount if inherent tension and melodrama, particularly in the form of extensive, amplified (by microphone) string plucking, which conveyed an eerie, gothic timbre of hidden terror.

The piece opens with the two couples – the Father and the Witch, and Hansel and Gretel, upstage, separate from each other, as if occupying different rooms in a house. The Witch (or, at this point, the stepmother), promptly begins to plant evil thoughts in the Father’s brain. She covers his eyes (from a position behind him), whispers in his ear, and seduces him with movement that is not only sensual, but powerful. The Witch is the dominant character, and Ms. Treiber does a superb job with it. In the next mini-scene, the Girl and her Brother awaken, and sense the presence of evil. And the ballet proceeds much in this way throughout – one mini-scene involving one pair of dancers alternating with a mini-scene involving the other pair – until later in the piece, when the Witch battles with the Brother, and then the Girl – and is ultimately defeated.

All this sounds minimalistic, and it is. But something about this piece – the emotions clearly generated, even if it’s not clear why they’re being expressed – that takes it to a higher level. I’m not acquainted with Mr. Fonte’s work (he is popular in Europe, has choreographed several pieces for Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and is currently Resident Choreographer for Ballet West), and don’t know if “There, and Back Again” is typical. But it’s vivid imagery and economy of movement are admirable qualities (at times I saw emotional echoes of Agnes De Mille’s “Fall River Legend,” and Antony Tudor’s “Pillar of Fire’). Together with Mr. Keller’s impressive score, they set a dominant and impressive mood, and permit the dancers to make the most of it. And they did. Ms. Treiber's Witch/Stepmother’s was exceptionally well-done; her portrayal was an emotional tornado; Ms. Zahlmann’s ‘Girl’ was youthful, but intelligent beyond her years, and she was the Witch’s undoing; Mr. Wells did well as the ’Brother’, though was not as dominant in the story as Ms. Zahlmann. The one disappointment was Mr. Melendez’s ‘Father’ – not because he did anything wrong, but because the choreography apparently required him to show no emotion at all – which, is how Mr. Melendez played it.

The piano playing by NYTB"s music by Michael Scales, NYTB’s Music Director, and the vivid violin execution by Margarita Krein, who had to stand throughout the ballet, were outstanding.

The evening concluded with Keith Michaels’s “Alice-in-Wonderland Follies.” It’s a hoot: ‘Alice’ goes vaudeville.

This piece, which premiered in 2002, divides the Lewis Carroll stories into twenty bite-sized skits. It’s not high-brow ballet, but it’s not trying to be. What it does more often than not is to make the story even more fun than it already is, in a way that is faithfully irreverent. My only quibble with it is that it goes on too long – but suggesting that a few segments might be scrapped would be the equivalent of telling the mother of twenty children to pick a few to eliminate. I particularly appreciated Michaels’s choices for musical accompaniment: excerpts of pieces ranging from “St. Louis Rag” (1903), to Debussy, Schumann, and Verdi, to “Home Sweet Home,” to “Glow Worm” to “Oh, You Beautiful Doll” to Sousa’s “El Capitan” to Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” to a word-for-word full cast recitation of “Jabberwocky,” to Mozart’s “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” (not the ‘50s doo-wop cover). The entire cast (many of whom did double or triple duty) merits considerable praise for avoiding the temptation to be overly cute, letting the choreographic cuteness (as well as the imaginative costumes designed by Sylvia Taalsohn Nolan and sets by Gillian Bradshaw-Smith) speak for itself. That having been said, the performances by Ms. Zahlmann as Alice, Ms. Treiber (with stage-spanning tail) as The Cheshire Cat, Carmella Lauer’s Caterpillar, and Mitchell Kilby and Seth Ives as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, were especially noteworthy. And then there was this fabulous daredevil Baby and some lovable Hedgehogs, students from NYTB’s affiliated Ballet School NY.

One of NYTB’s missions, since its creation in 1978 by Artistic Director Diana Byer, is to present infrequently performed ballet masterpieces and new works by emerging choreographers, and to do so in a way that makes the ballets and its dancers accessible, and the performance a personal experience for members of the audience. With this program, NYTB has done it. Again.


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 Post subject: Re: New York Theater Ballet
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2015 10:26 pm 
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In the New York Times, Siobhan Burke reviews the Thursday, June 18, 2015 performance at New York Theatre Ballet's new home in Saint Mark's Church.

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 Post subject: Re: New York Theater Ballet
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2015 11:08 am 
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In the New York Times, Joshua Barone previews the 2015-16 season.

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 Post subject: Re: New York Theater Ballet
PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 12:32 pm 
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New York Theatre Ballet will present Donald Mahler's one hour version of Cinderella at the Schimmel Center at Pace University in lower Manhattan, Sunday, September 20, 2015. Broadway World previews the production.

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 Post subject: New York Theatre Ballet
PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:36 pm 
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New York Theatre Ballet
Pace University - Schimmel Center
New York, New York

September 19, 2015
Double Andante, Cross Currents, There, And Back Again, Three Virgins and a Devil

-- by Jerry Hochman

For each of its “Legends and Visionaries” programs over the past several years, New York Theatre Ballet, under the leadership of Artistic Director Diana Byer, has mounted at least one new ballet, one dance that is long overdue for a revival by the major company that first presented it, or one that has been long forgotten. This year, for its first 2015-2016 program, NYTB has revived Agnes de Mille’s warmly hilarious Three Virgins and a Devil. The program also included repeat performances of three “new” pieces from last spring: Double Andante, a ballet by Pam Tanowitz that NYTB premiered last year; Merce Cunningham’s Cross Currents; and Nicolo Fonte’s There, and Back Again.

Three Virgins and a Devil, adapted from a tale by Fourteenth Century Italian poet Giovanni Boccaccio, premiered in London in 1934 as one component of a revue titled “Why Not Tonight?” Nearly seven years later, ABT presented it in a version that included de Mille as one of the virgins (and a youthful Jerome Robbins as a…youth). I first saw the piece during its first ABT revival, in 1973, and to this day cannot get the image of Dennis Nahat’s virtuosic Devil, with a vicious, impatient twinkle in his eyes as he twirled his tail like a lasso, out of my mind.

De Mille set Three Virgins to parts 1 and 2 of Ottorino Respighi’s Antiche arie e danze (Ancient Airs and Dances), a then contemporary orchestral suite based on Italian Renaissance music (primarily for the lute). The medieval senses of the two pieces complement and enhance each other perfectly. The dance itself is essentially an irreverent morality play, the plot of which can be reduced to a sentence: on their way to pledging themselves to God, three virgins meet the devil and are diverted to hell. De Mille magnifies this into a sugar-coated ironic comic fable which, in its brief seventeen minutes, manages to skewer multiple forms of libidinous excess and religious zealotry without offending anyone.

The story is simple: three virgins enter a medieval setting that is neither urban nor rural. A closed monastery door is stage left; a cave entrance stage right. The “priggish one” (also called the “fanatical one”) tries to lead the other two (a “greedy one” and a “lustful one”) into the nunnery. While the three pray outside the monastery door, a strange, berobed beggar who has difficulty keeping his cloven feet under wraps emerges from the cave entrance. After first begging for money from the would-be novices, his hoof betrays him, and he reveals himself as the Devil. The three virgins are horrified, but ultimately seduced by the thought of what he can do for them, or, in the case of the priggish one, what she can do for him. The Devil’s goal, however, is to entice the repressed virgins to cross the cave entrance into hell. The first two are easy; the priggish one tougher -- but eventually all succumb to their own weaknesses.

What’s particularly noteworthy about the dance choreographically, other than its comic flair, is how little ‘ballet’ there is. Long before Paul Taylor created a dance around ‘ordinary’ movement, here de Mille has crafted a ballet that effectively did just that, filling her ballet with such ordinary movement as skipping, walking, and most important, running. And it doesn’t take much to see in Three Virgins choreographic precursors of de Mille’s Rodeo, which premiered at the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1942.

Three Virgins would seem to be ideal for NYTB. That the company didn’t quite nail it as well as it has other revivals may be, at least in part, a consequence of my memory of that 1973 performance (which, aside from Nahat, included Sallie Wilson as the Priggish Virgin). But, in hindsight, the piece also looked better on a larger stage, where the outsized acting appeared less restrained, and where the extra space to run had greater impact. And as good a pianist as Michael Scales has proven to be over the years, reducing the score to a piano instrumentation made the ballet feel smaller than it should.

The cast, including Amanda Treiber (Priggish Virgin), Carmella Lauer (Greedy Virgin), Elena Zahlmann (Lustful Virgin), and Michael Wells (A Youth) was adequate (and Treiber more than that). But the larger problem here was Steven Melendez’s Devil. I can’t criticize Melendez for not being Nahat. But as good as Melendez is (and he’s been a stalwart for NYTB for several years), he didn’t display the broad strokes necessary to be demonically lovable. And the comedy largely fell flat – a matter of timing, perhaps, but also of insufficient emphasis. For example, the audience simply didn’t get what he meant when, after capturing the first virgin, Melendez raised a single triumphant finger – it wasn’t ‘big’ enough. Nor were the succeeding two gestures after he’d captured virgins two and three. But this was NYTB’s initial performance of the piece; I don’t doubt that they’ll all grow into their roles.

The company didn’t need much ‘growing into’ for the remaining pieces on the program, which I previously enthusiastically reviewed. Be that as it may, all three looked even better on second view.

Merce Cunningham’s Cross Currents is one of the few Cunningham dances that I’ve liked as much as appreciated. And the three NYTB dancers, Treiber, Alexis Branagan, and Joshua Andino-Nieto (the only new member of the cast) executed Cunningham’s fiendishly-timed, emotionless steps precisely and immaculately, somehow looking less like machine-cogs than riveting expressions of human images in motion. And Branagan’s burning intensity (which I’ve observed previously) took her role to another, higher level.

Double Andante has changed a bit since its premiere last year, but the change has been for the better. While the strong points in Tanowitz’s choreography remain (as well as the execution by the ten NYTB dancers – down from twelve at the premiere), the piece looks tighter now – less frenetic, and less busy. Treiber, the piece’s fulcrum of sorts, Branagan, and Mayu Oguri stood out.

Fonte’s distillation of the Hansel and Gretel tale, There, and Back Again, is a powerful confluence of music (original score by Kevin Keller), choreography, and performances. Zahlmann (A Girl) and Treiber (A Witch) reprised their brilliant performances, with Zahlmann taking hers to new dramatic heights. And Wells (in the lesser role as Her Brother) and Melendez (Their Father) each improved significantly, with Melendez now appearing on equal emotional footing with Zahlmann and Treiber.

NYTB is scheduled to dance another Legends and Visionaries program at Danspace Project on October 1, 2 and 3. As I've emphazised previously, these programs should not be missed.


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 Post subject: Re: New York Theater Ballet
PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2015 11:44 am 
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In the New York Times, Gia Kourlas reviews the October 1, 2015 performance of the "Legends & Visionaries" series.

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 Post subject: Re: New York Theater Ballet
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:23 pm 
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New York Theatre Ballet
New York Live Arts
New York, New York

February 27M, 2016
Legends & Visionaries Program:
Chemical Bond, Such Longing, Antique Epigraphs, Song Before Spring

-- by Jerry Hochman

It’s been a very busy ballet week in New York. Between New York City Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and a visit by members of the Mariinsky Ballet, not to mention the smaller companies that populate New York’s theatrical nooks and crannies, little time exists for an avid dancegoer to see it all. But missing one of New York Theatre Ballet’s Legends & Visionaries presentations is unthinkable, so I squeezed in a performance of its current program Saturday afternoon. As usual, the company, and the choices made by Artistic Director Diana Byer, did not disappoint.

Byer’s oft-stated intention in this program series is for her company to focus on overlooked or infrequently performed masterpieces, dances by highly regarded contemporary choreographers, and pieces by “emerging” choreographers. The four dances presented reflect that: Chemical Bond, a world premiere by San Francisco-based dancer/choreographer Milissa Payne Bradley; Such Longing by Richard Alston, a highly regarded contemporary choreographer and regular contributor to NYTB’s programing; the company premiere of Jerome Robbin’s Antique Epigraphs; and Song Before Spring, a world premiere piece jointly choreographed by American Ballet Theatre dancer Zhong-Jing Fang and NYTB’s own Steven Melendez.

While each of the pieces has considerable merit, the last two are particularly significant.

The return of Robbins’s Antique Epigraphs is cause for celebration – a comment I’ve made about most of NYTB’s resurrected classics. I was in the audience at its New York City Ballet premiere in 1984, as well as at more recent NYCB presentations, and thought I vividly remembered details of it. This NYTB revival, as well as the intimate environment of the Live Arts Theater, allowed me to see not only that I didn’t remember it as well as I thought I did, but that I had overlooked its substance and remembered only a part of its form – the most obvious part, that has the eight-woman cast assume positions that mimic depictions of women on ancient Greek friezes and art-embellished urns, and then bring those poses to life. NYCB rarely performs this little gem; perhaps this NYTB incarnation will give it a nudge.

Robbins has always impressed as infusing his ballets not only with impeccable craftsmanship, but with a sense of humanity. He lays the souls, and the spirits, of his characters bare, regardless of the immediate framework of the particular ballet. Here, inspired by Six épigraphes antiques for piano, four hands by Claude Debussy (completed in 1914), which in turn was inspired by a collection of erotic poems, Les Chansons de Bilitis, written in 1894 by French poet Pierre Louys and initially promoted as newly discovered ancient Greek compositions by a student (and presumably lover) of Sappho, Robbins turns his attention to women’s relationships with their own sensuality, freezes them in an anonymous, emotionally ambiguous context, and concurrently frees them to be themselves.

But Robbins is doing more with Antique Epigraphs than just visualizing individual romanticized female sensual expression or implied lesbian relationships; he’s commenting on the commenting on them (as Louys and Debussy both did), and camouflaging depth of feeling in the deceptive simplicity and delicacy of the piece’s movement. The women in Antique Epigraphs shout, but shout quietly.

Bracketed by the visual allusions to ancient poses, Antique Epigraphs initially presents a loosely-defined circle of women wearing flowing, diaphanous gowns of soft, muted colors worn over pale leotards, dancing in relative unison – the frieze, animated. From this circle, individual or smaller groups break apart to dance separately while largely maintaining their classical demeanor. The movement is slow-paced, as if the dancers are trying not to draw attention to themselves, but occasionally erupts with discretely controlled passion. These dances are a perfect complement to the subdued sense of serenity conveyed in Debussy’s music, and particularly in the flute piece Robbins selected to conclude the dance, Syrinx for solo flute, which adds an enigmatic and oriental twist: part mystical snake dance music, part sensual musical foreplay.

With the attention to detail and nuance that the staging by former NYCB principal dancer and member of the original cast Kyra Nichols provided, the NYTB dancers gave Antique Epigraphs a portrayal that forced me (not unwillingly) to see the emotions beneath the surface that I’d not remembered before. Elena Zahlmann began the first of several lead solos with a display of overt dynamism that contrasted vividly with the group dances that preceded it, and Amanda Treiber, who had particularly extraordinary performances throughout the program, ended the solos with a more detailed rendering of the persona she had communicated earlier in the piece, demonstrating restrained passion, somewhat aloof and aristocratically distant, but simmering. Carmella Lauer and Mayu Oguri completed the four leads, and all were abetted by Alexis Banagan, Giulia Faria, Chloe Slade, and Amanda Smith. The execution, as is usually the case with NYTB, was impeccable. The live musical accompaniment was flawlessly provided by NYTB’s music director Michael Scales and Zheng Ma on piano, and by Mira Magrill’s masterfully seductive flute.

I enjoyed Song Before Spring a great deal, but have difficulty explaining why. There doesn’t seem to be logical consistency to what passes for the dance's narrative or to its hodgepodge choreography – all indications of a ballet by committee. But somehow it all works, and has an overriding energy that’s palpable. It also shows remarkable vision on the part of Byer, who I understand selected the music, and then assigned the emerging choreographers, who had not previously worked together, to construct the piece.

A large part of the reason Song Before Spring works is the musical accompaniment: Piano Etudes Nos 1-10 by Philip Glass, arranged by Josh Quillen, director of NYU Steel, a fantastic group of a dozen percussionists who are spread horizontally upstage in a silhouette haze as the piece unfolds in front of them.

The focus of Song Before Spring, to the extent there is one, is on life in an urban jungle, and more specifically attempts to establish relationships within that environment: dances at urban gatherings (a bar or two, a rooftop or basement lounge, a subway station, a street corner, or all of the above), including passing visual portraits of people involved, and snippets of what might motivate them to act as they do. For example, after a bustling introductory sequence, Melendez is first seen as somewhat of a Travolta-like character, irresistible to himself; Treiber is the woman apparently in search of a relationship, whether she knows it or not; and Branagan, who seemed to have the most fun role in the piece, as a sort of instigator/motivator/mean girl/millennial yenta. But their ‘roles’, to the extent they can be seen as roles, aren’t internally consistent, and seem to disappear as soon as the viewer discerns them. And the movement quality reflected this consistent inconsistency: ballet vocabulary fused with other ‘stuff’ that fits the overall angst: twitches (lots of them), body sways, incompatible hand and foot positions, and even a mock-threatening bite or two, that don’t lead anywhere, abound. And yet, this seemingly kitchen-sink vocabulary works - the way life in an urban environment somehow works.

The piece is more diffuse than I would have liked, lasts a bit too long, and there was considerably more going on than I could visually capture in one sitting. Regardless, Song Before Spring is cleverly put together, fun to watch, and, most importantly, represents an auspicious choreographic debut for both nascent choreographers.

Bradley’s Chemical Bond, which opened the program, is a brief ballet to dreamlike music by Gabriel Faure (Serenade op. 98, and Apres un Reve) that is evocative of a warm, gentle relationship. The relationship depicted, however, is a threesome of sorts (Treiber, Oguri, and Joshua Andino-Nieto), and although the movement quality matches that of the music whether the dancers are paired or together, the interplay raises other issues. At times I thought I was watching a relationship game, with two women involved with one man – an updating of Nijinksy’s Jeux. Or perhaps, given the piece’s title, it’s a romanticization of a chemical reaction among three distinct elements. Regardless, and although the partnering was a bit muddy at times, Chemical Bond is a lovely and deceptively simple-looking piece. Scales handled the piano with his usual aplomb, and Amy Kang’s cello playing was magnificent.

Also lovely and deceptively simple-looking is Such Longing, a beautifully crafted and executed set of duets for two couples (Treiber and Melendez; Zahlmann and Michael Wells) originally choreographed by Richard Alston for his own England-based company in 2005. This NYTB presentation has been updated with additional choreography, and restaged for NYTB by Martin Lawrance. Although it’s choreographed to Chopin piano music, Such Longing is not just a sequence of dances that Robbins might have added to his Other Dances. Rather, the passionate duets include simmering emotional undercurrents of desperation, as if the couple is aware that their passion, for whatever reason, is impossible to sustain. The contrasting emotional messages convert Such Longing from being just another Chopin piano ballet into one that is different and strangely invigorating, but at the same time heartbreaking to watch.

In program notes, Alston thanks the NYTB dancers for bringing new life to the piece and making it their own. That they most emphatically did.

One final note. Every company, it seems, must endure a dead audience from time to time. So it was on Saturday afternoon, with excellent work that usually merits immediate applause or, in current fashion, yelps and whoops, met with stony silence until the particular dance ended. The dancers deserved better.


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