Justin Peck's THE ENORMOUS ROOM is set to movements from Mendelssohn piano quartets. As with Justin's other works that I have seen to date, this piece is vastly pleasing in its musicality and structure. And while one might assume that musicality and a sense of structure are basic necessities in a choreographer's tool chest, it's kind of amazing to think of the danceworks I've seen the the past few years that don't really display these essential atttributes.
Click on these Matt Murphy images for an enhanced view.
Above: the starting point of THE ENORMOUS ROOM. The dancers are Ask LaCour, Sean Suozzi and Teresa Reichlen, all of New York City Ballet. From here they sweep out into the space, moving with expansive freedom. Justin strikes a fine balance between tradition and innovation; building confidently on the music, he never breaks the framework of classical ballet technique but he finds ways of injecting the familiar steps and partnering motifs with unexpected nuances that tantalize the eye. His innate sense of style keeps things from ever going overboard, and those moments when he gives classicism a bit of a stretch are handled with real assurance and musical alertness.
As THE ENORMOUS ROOM develops, the dancers sometime return to their starting point. There are even measures of very 'active' music where the dancers stand still. Justin gauges this counterpoint perfectly so that it dovetails into the overall picture and never seems like a gimmick. In fact Justin's work is blessedly gimmick-free, though wit is subtly woven in - always at just the right moments.
Justin knows his dancers and how to show them off. Sean Suozzi's intensity of style gives an adrenalin rush to everything he does. It was exciting to see this dancer who I have always admired bringing the same passionate commitment to the studio that we always see in his stage performances.
Beautifully expressive in the adagio style, Tess and Ask share some lyrical partnering passages built on the Mendelssohn melodies. Matt's images capture the exact feeling I had while watching Tess, Ask and Sean in the studio: it was just a rehearsal but it felt like a performance.
Justin and Sean working on the shaping of a phrase. It's a phenomenal plus for Justin that he gets to pursue his choreographic vision while working with some of the greatest dancers on Earth.
These photographs by Matt Murphy are from a June 9th studio rehearsal of THE ENORMOUS ROOM which premiered at Skidmore College on June 10th as part of Saratoga ArtsFest. More about this rehearsal here, which began with Teresa Reichlen and Ask LaCour working on excerpts from Balanchine's APOLLO.
Justin Peck's next project will be a work for the Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival which is to premiere on July 22nd. The Festival's artistic director Benjamin Milepied has invited Justin to create a new ballet for which Justin has engaged a stellar group of his New York City Ballet colleagues. Further information about this work will be forthcoming.