Dance Entertainment

At Metropolis Ballet, Barbie Fundamentals on the Gala, and a Glittering Revival

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This yr’s New York Metropolis Ballet fall gala was an outlier. Lately, vogue has taken middle stage, with designers and choreographers collaborating to make new work. However on Thursday, this annual occasion at Lincoln Heart took a special path. Because the actress Sarah Jessica Parker, a vice chair of the corporate’s board of administrators, put it in remarks earlier than the present: “Tonight, we’re going classic.”

She meant the ballet facet of issues — particularly George Balanchine’s “Who Cares?” (1970), whose costumes had been reimagined for the gala by Wes Gordon, the inventive director of Carolina Herrera.

Initially designed by Karinska — and redesigned by Ben Denson in 1983 and Santo Loquasto in 2013 — the costumes for this ballet want, on the most simple stage, to maneuver. The ballet is a celebration of New York Metropolis in spite of everything. However just one a part of Gordon’s unflattering clothes oscillated madly: their spinning skirts.

What you wish to see in a jazzy ballet like “Who Cares?” is easy: the leg. Gordon’s clothes, in shades of pink and blue — like occasion favors at a gender reveal — had been too long and sodden with colored stones. If they’d a again story, it was “Barbie crashes the promenade.”

Who cares about costumes? I do. I additionally care about music. “Who Cares?” is ready to George Gershwin songs, tailored and orchestrated by Robert Miller and Hershy Kay. For the gala, Patti LuPone, Vanessa Williams and Joshua Henry sang the Gershwin requirements from the stage — often awkwardly so — as dancers carried out solos and pas de deux from the ballet. The addition of the singers, which required additional orchestrations by Miller, was a distraction that made the ballet much less musical.

Even when there have been sparks of pleasure — Indiana Woodward in “My One and Solely,” Isabella LaFreniere in “I’ll Construct a Stairway to Paradise,” Joseph Gordon in “Liza” — the look was principally unsophisticated, the sound was inconsistent and the costumes had been fussily garish quite than sexily so.

Balanchine’s choreography was immediately a one-note affair; this was a horrible approach to showcase his legacy. Nor was it a good suggestion to remake the costumes as an alternative of restoring Karinska’s or creatively reimagining them. As the autumn season has regularly proven, it’s not solely Balanchine who’s the star, however Karinska, whose eye for color and cut remains astounding. Balanchine as soon as stated half of the success of his ballets was owed to her costumes.

At the least the night (which included two movies and two units of speeches) ended with “Glass Items” (1983), a piece by Jerome Robbins, the corporate’s different founding choreographer. Set to Philip Glass, it provides one other balletic tackle metropolis life. There are three {couples} within the first motion and a pas de deux within the second — hauntingly danced by Unity Phelan and Adrian Danchig-Waring — however this work belongs to the corps de ballet.

You reside for the final couple of minutes when their our bodies, having been pushed by relentless velocity and meticulous spacing, loosen up into the hypnotic rating with their focus giving approach to smiles. Sweaty and united, they dance as one, spilling throughout the stage till they freeze, arms reaching to the sky.

However earlier than the gala night time, Metropolis Ballet’s fall season has belonged, rightfully, to Balanchine with applications full of gems, together with the revival of a dazzler: “Bourrée Fantasque” (1949), set to music by Emmanuel Chabrier. It swings from comedy to romance and at last snaps to in an exhilarating finale wherein dancers converge in a dizzying array of concentric circles.

The swirling our bodies type one thing of a psychedelic carousel with a ballerina surging up from the middle like a mermaid rising out of a fountain. This made me smile since I like Esther Williams. And, you by no means know what was at the back of Balanchine’s thoughts; “Neptune’s Daughter” was launched earlier that yr.

So many steps and gestures reference different Balanchine ballets, but “Bourrée” is its personal world, with every part unfolding like a dream ballet. The primary, “Bourrée Fantasque,” is stuffed with humor, beginning with its casting: a tall lady and a shorter man. (It was initially carried out by Tanaquil Le Clercq and Jerome Robbins.) The lady, at one level, swings her leg again in angle till her foot bonks her companion’s head.

Within the forged I noticed, the opening pairing of Mira Nadon and Ok.J. Takahashi was sweetly jovial; their teasing, mischievous gestures contrasted with the sharpness of their footwork — together with second place pliés that immediately widened, jabbing the ground with their heels. Balanchine turns classical steps inside out with humor, however the choreography’s brisk flash and drive can also be discovered within the delicacy of its energy.

The flowing, romantic second motion, “Prélude,” with Emilie Gerrity and Gilbert Bolden III, confirmed off easy ardent partnering by the polished, gallant Bolden; Alexa Maxwell and David Gabriel sparkled in “Fête Polonaise” — seemingly leaping by way of invisible hoops.

The ballet, with costumes by Karinska, ran for less than a weekend, however it is going to return within the spring (with, one hopes, extra extravagant headpieces as proven in outdated photographs). The season opened with every week of the Balanchine triptych “Jewels,” which flew by with a flurry of effective debuts. Emma Von Enck and Jovani Furlan spun “Rubies” into gold, whereas Christina Clark made an indelible impression because the ballet’s lead soloist together with her poised, regal calm. Nadon, Emily Kikta and now Clark present alternative ways of approaching the soloist half. Their interpretations are so private, so stuffed with particular person fragrance.

LaFreniere, dancing with Chun Wai Chan, made a formidable debut in “Diamonds” — an image of class and assured management as she rapturously illuminated the aspects of the choreography. And Nadon’s “Emeralds” debut was enveloped in thriller: lush, stuffed with secrets and techniques and born within the second.

Von Enck, fluid, detailed and vivacious, breathed new life into “Tarantella”; and Kikta, in each “Western Symphony” and “Stars and Stripes,” used her wonderful wingspan to glittering impact. She towers over everybody, however as an alternative of shrinking, she bravely pushes her size to its restrict. Additionally in “Western,” Woodward and Furlan had been invaluable within the second motion: adorably unhappy and sharply humorous.

However there have been duller, extra unimaginative turns by Erica Pereira and Megan LeCrone in “Stars and Stripes”; Sara Adams, inexplicably forged in “The Unanswered Query” and “Apollo,” strikes effectively however with out texture. And Peter Walker’s partnering, in “Agon” reverse a coolly elegant Miriam Miller, and in “Stars” with Nadon, was tense and slippery — thick with wobbles.

In “Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2,” an particularly luminous Sara Mearns, partnered fantastically by Tyler Angle, swirled out and in of Balanchine’s dizzying patterns with fortitude, ease and ravishing element. She’s been some of the pressing and alive dancers of the season, together with her performances in “Diamonds” with Russell Janzen, who retired on Sept. 24. His gallantry, his sensitivity to his companions and to the ballets he graced goes to be laborious to let go of.

However there stays the richness of the current, captured within the skillful partnering and distinctive verve of the younger principals Roman Mejia and Furlan; and hope for the longer term, embodied by one other dancer with an urge for food for partnering and expansive dancing: Gilbert Bolden III. (His full title bears repeating.)

This season, his physique has lengthened and turn into extra agile, whether or not dancing a corps de ballet function or a lead. In his glowing flip within the first movement of “Western Symphony” with Olivia MacKinnon, he swooped in and saved the day. As any cowboy ought to.

New York Metropolis Ballet

Performances proceed by way of Oct. 15 at David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Heart,