YOU’RE GOING TO WISH YOU STUCK WITH BALLET CLASS
I am giddy with excitement as I walk up the famous Lincoln Center steps to attend the New York City Ballet’s Here/Now Festival, where the company performs 43 ballets by 22 different choreographer in just 4 weeks. A happy crowd mingles as they are about to see the world renowned ballet company. Young and old come together to witness art, this is the place to be on a Wednesday night.
A few years back I watched a documentary called Ballet 422 where young NYCB dancer Justin Peck is asked to choreograph his first piece for the company. After watching the film I became a massive fan of Peck — I’ve already looked into it and he has a girlfriend, BUMMER. Justin is genius and brings a new spice to ballet, which is needed today where most people find the dance style bland. Tonight is all about 29-year-old Peck, who is now the resident choreographer for the company.
I find my red velvet seat in the fourth ring at the David H. Koch Theater and sit down as people filter in, excited and not knowing what to expect for tonight’s program. What I’m about to see are four dances — In Creases, The Dreamers, New Blood, and Everywhere We Go — all choreographed by Peck within the last few years.
The lights dim and the curtain rises, there are two black grand pianos at the back of the stage and eight dancers dressed in grey — This is In Creases — the first work Peck created for NYCB. The ballet is set to “Four Movements for Two Pianos” by Philip Glass. The choreography is sharp and collective, giving the dancers a more athletic tone. The choreography isn’t graceful like a french rococo painting, but instead it is more like architecture, every dancer had their roll and the intense steps fit together perfectly to make the dance complete.
The Second piece is titled The Dreamers — the subject of the film Ballet 422 — which involves one man and one woman. The dance was graceful, calm, and told a story about two lovers. The dancers felt emotion in the choreography, even from so far away, it was noticeable on their faces. The orchestra played the music of Bohuslav Martinu, very soft and seductive. Out of all four dances this was my least favorite, it didn’t keep my attention and there was no climax in the story telling.
After such a calming performance, next on stage was New Blood, a very active and energized series of pas de deux that kept every audience member awake. 13 dancers wearing colorful ombre jumpsuits with big cutouts, showing off the their flexible backs and muscular legs is what brought this piece to life. This piece includes many duets, never leaving just one dancer on stage. Starting with half of the company wearing warm colors and ending with the rest of the company wearing cool colors — a very creative and pleasing way to pass on choreography from one dancer to the next. Peck not only creates amazing choreography but he also has a strict vision for costuming and lighting, making them reflect off of each other and giving the dancers the best design for their bodies.
The last ballet of the night was an absolute artful masterpiece. Everywhere We Go will make you wish you stuck with dance class. With a more contemporary American feel, this piece was absolutely breathtaking and brought laughs and gasps to the audience. The formations were tightly packed and had sharp angles (sitting on the fourth ring gave me a great view of the formations). The lighting popped and showed off the dancers and the orchestra used every instrument in the pit. With principal dancer Tiler Peck — Justin’s younger sister — leading the way this piece was a crowd favorite that brought the perfect close to the program, ending the with loud cheering and a much deserved standing ovation for the New York City Ballet.
George Balanchine once said, “there are no new steps, only new combinations.” Justin Peck didn’t create old steps, but he reinvented them to make it new. The creativity and skill Peck has is nothing like I have ever seen. He is making ballet new again and giving the art a new design while still keeping it traditional for the ballets gods. If you are in town for the month of May, I highly recommend catching one of the New York City Ballet’s performances, there is not a bad seat in the theatre. If you’re like me, after the performance you’ll be mimicking Peck’s choreography down the Lincoln Center steps.