Saturday April 10, 2010 - Above: Victoria North, Artistic Director of the Columbia Ballet Collaborative in Kokyat's rehearsal photo. Tonight I (and seemingly half the roster of the New York City Ballet) trekked to the Miller Theater where the Collaborative were presenting six new works. The NYCB contingent were out in force to applaud their colleagues Justin Peck (who presented and danced in his own work), Teresa Reichlen and Craig Hall.
Just as I was starting to write about the performance, a timely gift from photographer Matthew Murphy arrived in the form of a selection of photos from the Collaborative's performance which are not only beautiful in their own right but serve as reminders of the individual mood of each piece.
Claudia Schreier's EXCURSIONS uses piano music of Samuel Barber, first an adagio and then an allegro. Don Friederwald (above) and a trio of women (Caitlin Dieck, Catherine Dillard and Elizabeth Claire Walker) are all clad in simple black. In both movement and partnering style this piece put me in mind of the Balanchine leotard ballets. Ms. Walker, subbing for an injured dancer, was impressive - as she had been last week dancing with Avi Scher's troupe.
Justin Peck and Tess Reichlen in Justin's duet ENJOY YOUR RABBIT. This was the first of two works in the evening to use music of Osso and Sufjan Stevens. The music begins rather delicately with an Oriental feeling and then becomes more lush and expansive. Tess danced magnificently and Justin's choreography shows her off to the best advantage. The partnering was fast-paced and thrillingly musical, both dancers smoothly in sync thru the complexities. Between his dancing and his imaginative choreography, Justin seems poised to be a major force on the Gotham ballet scene.
Music of Mendelssohn sets the stage for Emery LeCrone's FIVE SONGS FOR PIANO, a dance for a sisterhood of five women which has a ritualistic feeling. We'd watched Emery and her dancers working on this piece in the studio where her ideas of structure and a shifting focus on the individual dancers seemed very promising. Tonight, beautifully lit and with the girls letting their hair down, the work made a beautiful impression. Erin Arbuckle (at right in the above photo) joins her Columbia colleagues Nicole Cerrutti, Alexandra Ignatius and Jen Barrer-Gall creating a movement ensemble...
...with Victoria North (above) in a featured role. Each of the girls has a passage in which to shine as an individual while the others quietly observe from the sidelines.
Above: Emery's ensemble - Jen, Alexandra, Erin, Victoria and Nicole. I'm hoping we'll have a chance to see this work again in some context.
In Lauren Birnbaum's NAVARASA a lovely sense of community is developed as eight women and a lone male (Eric Conrad Holzworth, seen above with Alexandra Ignatius and Laura Goodall) move thru the ever-shifting patterns; groups form and drift apart only to re-connect and the Osso/Sufjan Stevens score infuses everything with a kind of quiet joy.
Alexandra Ignatius in NAVARASA; her Grecian-tunic costume made me think of
John-Mark Owen's AH, MIO COR offered the darkest images of the evening. Magdalena Kozena's voice in the aria from Handel's ALCINA is wrenchingly expressive as she sings of the pain of being abandoned by her lover. In a rather manic B section, the singer seems on the verge of a breakdown and then slowly resolves back to despair in the da capo. John-Mark mirrors all of this drama in his choreography. Perhaps because Alcina is a sorceress, the five women take on a bewitching aspect. They are strikingly dressed in fitted black leggings with filmy black bodices over-laying dark green leotards and finished off with black ruff collars. Their toes shoes are black and the petit-pointe motifs of the footwork echo the relentless beat of the music. With its shadowy lighting the work is visually intriguing and I hope John-Mark will keep this in his repertoire with perhaps some changes in the specific steps while maintaining the atmosphere which is so perfectly expressive of the music.
With the dancers in silhouette, Monique Meunier launches her ballet SOLID GROUND set to music from Break of Reality. In this sensuous and alluring work, Monique takes her cue from the passionate undercurrents of the music to create a dream-world in which five women move with sinuous grace around the central figure of...
...New York City Ballet's Craig Hall, above. Craig gave a tremendous performance as a young demi-god. In the course of the work he partners each of the women in turn and yet his gaze always seems focused on some elusive ideal.
In two sustained duets, Craig dances with Victoria North (above, the only woman on pointe in the work, giving their duet a classical feeling)...
...and with Elysia Dawn (above) in a more earthy and erotically charged passage.
Craig gave a powerful performance and the women - Victoria, Elysia, Jen Barrer-Gall, Catherine Dillard and Erin Duffy - were all excellent.
Congratulations to Victoria North and her CBC colleagues for putting the evening together so successfully. And again my thanks to Matt Murphy for his evocative images. Click on his photos to enhance the view.