Above photo: Tiler Peck, Joseph Gordon, The Exchange. I thought Wayne McGregor’s new AFTERITE performed in American Ballet Theatre’s spring season would easily take the prize for my least favorite ballet of the year. Then I saw Kyle Abraham’s The Runaway Friday in New York City Ballet’s 21st Century Choreographers program. The work, which debuted the previous evening at NYCB’s gala, is designed to appeal to the young hip crowd with Kanye West and Jay-Z rap music filled with words that start with F, MF, S, and N with lyrics such as “I love myself way more than I love you, so today I thought about killing you, premeditated murder.” The first time I’ve seen dancing to the F word. Preposterous costumes added to the nonsense with women wearing black wigs with bizarre straight pigtails to the side and men wearing large black rings around their necks. Run away as fast as you can.
The other three works were more standard fare. Matthew Neenan’s The Exchange set to Antonín Dvořák with Maria Kowrosky/Russell Janzen and Tiler Peck/Joseph Gordon as lead couples. Costumes were odd. Dancers were clad in red and black, some women in dresses while some men in black skirts with straps. Throw in masks in sections for some reason. Anthony Huxley showed great flair and stood out with tightly wrapped, rapid double tours. Although interesting at times, the work was difficult to follow and lacked cohesion. Bruno Moretti’s In Vento had its premier in 2006. The work featured Andrew Veyette as the loner with various couples in the background to a darkly lit stage. The highlight was a sultry pas de deux with Maria Kowrosky and Russell Janzen. Maria has been a pleasure to watch this season, dancing at a very high level. Gianna Reisen’s Judah is set to electronic music by John Adams. Reisen’s work is interesting, with repetitive geometric patterns traced out by the dancers, with stairs placed on two sides of the stage as props. Costumes by Alberta Ferretti were colorful shades of red, light blue, yellow, and white.