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NYCB Costume Gala

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I saw the NYCB costume gala program (not on the gala night). I thought Justin Peck's Pulcinella was very well crafted. It's great to see him tackling Stravinsky, classicism and tutu ballets. In my opinion, the costume gala is always a gamble. One example is Liam Scarlett's duet where the woman is so dwarfed by her costume that the real drama onstage is her fight with her gown. Why cover a ballerina's feet? The yards of ruffles defeated poor Gretchen Smith, while Tiler Peck, even though she's shorter, was able to wrestle the gown to a draw. I'm torn between hoping the costumes for Pulcinella go the way of Kurt Seligmann's costumes for The Four Temperaments (Google it if you've never seen them) and thinking that they might just grow on me. At least in Pulcinella you can see the bodies.


I've enjoyed Troy Schumacher's choreography in the past. Someone here said there's a sense of community in the structure of his pieces. I agree. For me, Where the Wind Blows (is that the title?)  suffers from the community concept. It leads to a lack of visual and spatial structure. The ballet has too many dancers who are too frequently arranged onstage in seemingly random patterns. I remember one beautiful passage where the dancers lined up lying on the floor like rows and rows of train tracks, reminiscent of Paul Taylor's Esplanade. Aside from that brief section I was usually annoyed that there wasn't any direction about where to look. I distracted myself by trying to count the number of different costumes, as they added to the  visual disorder. Some dancers wore dresses, others wore long slacks, others bare legged tunics, others (still with me?) shorts with tights. Color block, stripes, solids, both matte and shimmery fabrics were used. It looked like an entire fall collection rather than the costumes for one ballet. The corps de ballet dancers, as always, were so skilled. I wish someone would help Mr Schumacher with his choices.  I teach dance composition, there are assignments that can help him structure the stage space better. He also needs to give the costume designers better instructions. If everyone wore the same thing it could help.


Lauren Lovette's Not Our Fate was a relief after that. Black and white costumes; all the men in black pants and white Ts, all the women in fitted black jackets with white skirts. The dancers flew across the stage in swoopy movement full of suspensions and  unexpected stops on a dime. The relationships between them were clear, and the partnering for Taylor Stanley and Preston Chamblee's duets truly moving. I hope it stays in the repertory for a bit, it is worth future viewings. Lovette has guts and skill as a choreographer. The NY Times article about same sex partnering and gender neutral casting was well deserved. It's more than a gimmick. It looks modern and revolutionary, as if ballet is finally coming into this century. I thought Lovette's description of the process really astute. She was looking for a movement quality, Taylor had it so she cast him. She said, "So I put two men together. Suddenly, they could just be themselves."  Doesn't the best art reveal an unexplored truth? There's a slight risk Taylor and Preston might get pigeonholed with casting, but they both dance so beautifully that I don't really see that happening.

Edited by BalanchineFan

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