The Royal Ballet wrapped up its New York run Sunday with a diversified mixed rep bill with seven of the eight works from British choreographers. The program began with Wayne McGregor’s 2008 Infra and ended with Liam Scarlett’s 2014 The Age of Anxiety with six divertissements in between. From a choreography perspective, the works were hit or miss with all well danced.
Infra is set to Max Richter’s piano and string score with sampling of sounds from everyday urban life. Over the dancers is a video screen scrolling simplified human figures. Central to the piece are relationships and interaction, much like Robbins’ Glass Pieces. Below the screen are 12 dancers in simple attire, acting out real life relationships in various combinations. There were a number of partnering sections with contemporary flavor; some partnering segments were tender and indicated a romantic bond, while in others, the men manipulated the woman rather than support them. Women did most of the dancing with men as partners. Particularly noteworthy Sunday afternoon were Melissa Hamilton (on the cover of Dance Magazine this month), who bends in a number of different directions, Meaghan Grace Hinkis, and Sarah Lamb. I found the work intriguing, exploring the many aspects of relationships in the hustle and bustle of a city.
I admit to being old fashioned so it’s not surprising that, among the short solo and pas de deux divertissements, I liked the more traditional Voices of Spring (Ashton, 1977) and Macmillan’s Carousel (1992). Voices of Spring is set to the music of Frühlingsstimmen by Johann Strauss II. The work was originally to be included as a divertissement in the 1977 production of Die Fledermaus by the Royal Opera and first performed as an independent work by The Royal Ballet in 1978. The work featured Akane Takada and Valentino Zucchetti, clad in Coppellia type costumes. The piece is festive and whimsical with several one hand supporting lifts, recurring supporting attitude poses from both dancers, and a unique lift in which Akane lies flat resting on Valentin’s shoulders perpendicular to the ground as he spins her around. Valentino displayed nice beats and a repeating pirouette to double tour section.
Carousel, which had its London revival in 1992 six weeks afer Kenneth MacMillan’s death, was his first work in a West End musical since 1959. The work was a success, winning Olivier Awards in London and Tony Awards in New York. The “If I loved you” pas de deux with Rodgers and Hammerstein music featured Lauren Cuthbertson and Matthew Golding. The work is cheerful and whimsical, in Broadway-style. A problem with the short dances was understanding the context of the piece within a larger work. However, it was clear that Lauren, clad in ballet flats and a long purple dress, was hopelessly in love with Matthew, with a strange outfit of black tights, no shirt, vest, and bow tie. The two had a believable bond as two young lovers until Matthew dumped her, running off the stage. Matthew had some razzle-dazzle steps including multiple double saute de basques and tours.
I enjoyed the dancing in the other divertissments, but thought the works did not carry much substance.
I liked Liam Scarlett’s Acheron at NYCB, disliked his With a Chance of Rain with ABT featuring a number of juvenile butt and boob grabs. His The Age of Anxiety broke the tie but not in his favor. The work is set to Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony no.2 and is inspired by W.H. Auden’s epic poem. A Bernstein score and a New York setting is similar to Robbins’ Fancy Free. The similariities end there as Scarlett’s work is confusing, complicated, and tedious.
Other Royal Ballet at Lincoln Center reviews: