New York City Ballet in Washington DC

The New York City Ballet performed at the Kennedy Center April 1-6 with a mixed bill consisting of Christopher Wheeldon’s Soiree Musicale, Justin Peck’s Year of the Rabbit and Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna, a Grand Divertissement, and the classic Jewels.

Sarah Kaufman of the Washington Post enjoyed the unique mix rep performance:

• “What a crazy night. What a wonderful night. To see three recent works, each one warmed by kooky wit and verve, all specially made for this company and capturing different facets of its spirit, character and energy: This is why we go watch dance.”

• “Humor and ballet are a grand pairing, but few choreographers are brave enough to be silly. How lucky we were to see the works of these three, all with strong silly streaks.”

Sarah was less positive about Jewels:

• “The glamour of “Jewels” is still strong, as was clear in the New York City Ballet’s handsome, though not flawless, performance Tuesday at the Kennedy Center Opera House. “Jewels” accounts for all but two of the company’s seven performances here. If this ballet no longer feels like a sensation, it is still an audience draw.”

• “There is another reason the effect of “Rubies” and “Diamonds” has dimmed: The ballet world has fully ripped off their once-novel tricks. The aloof dominatrix in “Rubies,” with her turned-in legs and splayed-out extensions, has become a standard character in countless contemporary works, though not with the towering poise of Teresa Reichlen in Tuesday’s cast.”

Sarah has an interesting interview with choreographer Justin Peck focusing on the process of creating a ballet. Interesting quotes:

• “Choreography is a slow, messy business. Balanchine was known for relatively speedy work; it took him an hour of studio time to create one minute of a finished dance. For Robbins, five hours of toil netted one minute of dancing. Peck estimates that it takes him about two hours per minute, putting him on the swifter side.”

• “It’ll never look exactly like I planned it.” Despite his preparations — sketching formations, reading the musical score — his choreography “gets sent in a different direction,” he says, “due to the fact that I’m working with these living, breathing human beings who can think on their own. Versus someone who’s just painting with paint.”

• “Peck values the collaborative atmosphere. “My philosophy on choreography is that the making of a ballet is a team effort, and we’re in this together. It’s not me hammering on them. It’s more about how we can elevate this piece collectively to something great.”

• “Yeah, I don’t ever want to see that (Sleeping Beauty). I’m not interested in seeing the Petipa version of that. When I put on my consumer hat and I’m buying tickets to be entertained, I’m not interested in seeing, like, “Don Quixote.” Unless someone really spectacular is dancing.”

ABT is next up at the Kennedy Center, April 15-20. The company will perform a mixed rep bill consisting of Les Sylphides, Marcelo Gomes’ Aftereffect, and The Dream (April 15-16), and Don Quixote (April 17-20).