Review: The Unstuffy Gala: City Ballet Delivers Youth and Style

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From left, Mimi Staker, Meagan Mann, Eliza Blutt and Silas Farley in Troy Schumacher’s “The Wind Still Brings.”

Credit
Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

Five years ago, New York City Ballet’s fall gala became an event for fashion onstage: an annual rendezvous in which new choreography joined new couture. Since 2014, the formula has been four creations, made by four different choreographers, each with a design team from the fashion world.

More recently, the new ballets have been commissioned from remarkably young choreographers. The oldest at this year’s gala, on Thursday evening, was Troy Schumacher, 31; the youngest, Gianna Reisen, 18. These young dance-makers in turn have brought revisions to ballet’s sociology — a young and liberal view of both dance and life.

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Preston Chamblee and Taylor Stanley (obscured) in Lauren Lovette’s “Not Our Fate.”

Credit
Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

In just a few years, thanks in good measure to these galas, City Ballet audiences have become accustomed to same-sex pairings amid ballet’s more institutionalized heterosexuality. And though City Ballet has featured ethnic diversity since its inception in 1948, this has become increasingly evident of late. All four of Thursday’s premieres showed how ballet is changing.

The cast for Mr. Schumacher’s “The Wind Still Brings,” designed by Jonathan Saunders, showed men and women in skirts and culottes of widely differing lengths. In Lauren Lovette’s “Not Our Fate,” only two of the five male dancers are white; all three are featured in same-sex couplings. Ms. Reisen’s “Composer’s Holiday” focuses on male-female duets, framed by separate male and female corps de ballet, but it too includes a…

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