New York Theater Ballet aims to reexamine classics with a fresh, contemporary look. In this case, most of the evening was a celebration of Jerome Robbins’ Centennial showcasing Septet, Rondo and Concertino. Both Septet and Concertino are performed to music by Stravinsky; the former to Reduction for Two Pianos and the latter to Concerto for String Quartet and Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo. All three ballets are plotless and were danced in simple, unadorned costumes on a bare stage. Florence Gould Hall is small so the audience is close to the dancers and exposed to the bare bones of performing including rosin squeaks and sometimes heavy landings although Steven Melendez managed to make his light, a fine achievement for a good-sized, athletic man.
New York Theater Ballet
The title of Optimists, choreographed by Gemma Bond of American Ballet Theater, didn’t tell me anything but the dancing, by Amanda Treiber and Erez Milatin, did. The piece is exciting and filled with action with the pair swooping and diving to Piano Sonata no.8 Opus 84 by Prokofiev. Elegant and spare with powerful bodies they move with confidence, Treiber and Miltatin have made this exhilarating piece their own and it was a joy to watch.
New York Theater Ballet continues to forge ahead. Now in its thirty-ninth season, NYTB brings new ways to look at classics together with the opportunity to see work by up-and-coming choreographers. Legends & Visionaries, presented as a tribute to the late David Vaughan, dance archivist, historian and critic, began with sweetly moving remarks by NYTB company founder and artistic director, Diana Byer, Vaughan’s friend and mentee.
One of the pleasures of this presentation was its immediacy as the small setting brought the dancers very close to the audience. To the performers' credit, the strain and difficulty of executing many challenging positions and lifts rarely showed.