The Splendor of “NY City Ballet Moves”
WHEN YOU SEE the New York City Ballet for the first time in a long time, or even for the first time, you are immediately aware of the excellence these dancers have attained through impeccable training, which has honed every inch of their bodies to nearly impossible levels of terpsichorean perfection.
New York City Ballet Moves is a performance group handpicked from the main company to take the company’s work and talent out of New York (in case you can’t get to the mecca at Lincoln Center). The Gaillard, though not full on Tuesday night, was an ample house for the show, and the sound of the live piano was pure in it’s virtuosic execution.
The performance will be repeated Wednesday night, so please go if you have any thought of doing so, for it is a true feast for the senses! It is especially exciting to give a local shoutout to Sara Mearns (from Columbia) and Harrison Ball (who grew up on Sullivan’s Island). I saw a ten-year-old Ball perform with the Charleston Ballet on the former Gaillard stage and knew he would move on to greener pastures. He has certainly arrived, and was a vibrant presence, especially in Justin Peck’s gem titled “In Creases,” a piercing work from 2012 set to the music of Phillip Glass. Also noteworthy was soloist Taylor Stanley, a powerhouse whose jumping and torquing were magnetic in their intensity.
The incandescent Ms. Mearns was exquisite in the evening’s second piece, “This Bitter Earth,” by Christopher Wheeldon. Partnered with Adrian Danchig-Waring, the duet was as smooth as silk, with luxurious lines, limitless expression, and breathtaking moments — while dancing to a haunting remix of Dinah Washington’s song. Ms. Mearns’s career has been impressive to watch from afar, and seeing her gentle but commanding performance here, live, was a delight.
“Sonatine” was the only Balanchine work on the program, but it stood clearly apart with its relevance and stature. Performed by the Hepburn-esque Lauren Lovette and Gonzalo Garcia to the music of Ravel, it moved with effortless breeziness in an elegant, romantic interlude that highlighted the stunning dancers.
It should be noted that four of the five pieces were danced to live piano played by the masterful Cameron Grant, and duo-pianists Elaine Chelton and Alan Moverman who opened the evening with a stirring rendition of John Adam’s complex score, Hallelujah Junction. The quality of sound was outstanding, and the flurry of notes and rhythms drove the dancers at times to move faster than the eye could keep up with, but the music accompanied them perfectly.
The final piece, “Pictures at an Exhibition,” showcased the 17-member company in a whimsical and otherworldly ballet by Alexei Ratmansky, with music by Modest Mussorgsky. The costume design by Adeline Andre could be considered haute couture, with the women in iridescent, gossamer dresses. In a series of vignettes a la “A Midsummer Nights Dream,” the dancers took on the unique and original movement of Ratmansky, which incorporated rapid fire footwork and switchblade clarity of arms and legs, whichseems like second nature to this outstanding company.
I strongly urge anyone with a remote interest in dance to take advantage of this stellar offering. A chance like this to see la crème de la crème doesn’t come often to our part of the woods!