New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Lovette’s new work The Shaded Line is for the young and woke. Unfortunately, I am neither.
The work, which debuted Thursday, is a continuation of Lovette’s exploration of gender norms and conformity in society and the world of ballet. Her third ballet for NYCB features a lead androgynous character (Georgina Pazcoguin on Friday), clad in tight black jeans, tuxedo shirt, and black point shoes with a tight, short-haired wig. Georgina represents the future of dance while 20 corps dancers clad in traditional white/yellow tutus that stick up in the back for the women and gray tights and shirts for the men represent the art form’s past. Georgina is the outsider trying to assimilate into the crowd, creating drama and tension as the corps dancers form numerous patterns around her. This recurring theme is broken up with duets with Mary Thomas MacKinnon, Unity Phelan, and Taylor Stanley. Georgina never fits in, struggling to transform the norms of the group. There is also an emotional pas de deux with Georgina and Unity. In the end, Georgina is in the front of the crowd as she stands on pointe as the curtain falls. The individual fighting conformity in the ballet world and society triumphs.
The Shaded Line features several odd parts I could do without that reduce the clarity of the work: dancers shrieking and moaning, orchestra members flipping their music books in synch multiple times, Georgina taking off her pointe shoes on stage only to put them back on later. The Shaded Line has compelling features, notably the interaction between Georgina and Taylor and her search for belonging in an unfamiliar world. However, it falls short creating an interesting and believable narrative.
The more traditional Lineage by former NYCB Soloist Edwaard Liang is an exciting work with well thought out pairings. Lineage, set to the score Apollo by Oliver Davis, is influenced by Georgian folk dance and also debuted Thursday.
The eight women are clad in folksy metallic skirts while the eight men are in burgundy tights, black shirts, and dark green leggings resembling boots. The duets stand out, especially Sara Mearns and Russell Janzen. Both danced with great musicality and emotion, a highlight of the work. Their flowing movements to the score were impressive. Ashley Bouder and Peter Walker were dynamic in their duet, while Liang highlighted Maria Kowroski’s great extension in her pairing with Tyler Angle. Roman Mejia provided robust solo work with piked saute de basques and multiple double tours. Edwaard’s nuanced and multi-faceted work will reward multiple viewings.
Friday featured two classics, Balanchine’s 1947 fan favorite, Symphony in C and Robbins’ 1979 Opus 19/The Dreamer. Symphony in C had a few highlights Friday starting with Megan Fairchild and Joseph Gordon’s crisp, focused steps in the First Movement. Teresa Reichlen and Jared Angle in the Second Movement were not a great match and struggled at times. Baily Jones, who debuted in the role the previous night, and Sebastian Villarini-Velez were energetic in the inspiring Third Movement along with Erica Periera and Andrew Scordato in the Fourth Movement. Originally choreographed in 1979 for Mikhail Baryshnikov and Patricia McBride, Jerome Robbins’ Opus 19/The Dreamer focuses on the male protagonist’s elusive interactions with his ethereal counterpart. It is not my favorite Robbins work. Sterling Hyltin and Gonzalo Garcia were leads Friday.