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Jennifer Stahl on Thursday, Feb 27, 2014
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The ranks of New York City Ballet are a veritable breeding ground for great choreographers: Christopher Wheeldon, Benjamin Millepied and Justin Peck all launched their choreography careers while dancers in Balanchine's company. The latest talent to keep an eye on is Silas Farley. He just joined the corps in August, but he's been choreographing since age 11. He also made several works while at the School of American Ballet, including an impressively-crafted piece for the New York Choreographic Institute in 2012.
Farley's work is, unsurprisingly, very influenced by Balanchine's aesthetic—the powerful musicality, the athletic explosiveness, the fresh take on classical steps. "Mr. B. was committed to using the steps of the classical ballet vocabulary as the building blocks of his ballets—he said that there were 'no new steps, only new combinations,' " says Farley. "I love exploring the endless combinations of these 300-year-old movements." Take a look at this fun video of a rooftop duet Farley made for himself and NYCB corps member Emily Kikta. It's just a quick clip, but it shows his striking use of crisp lines and engaging dynamics.
On Monday, Farley will premiere his latest work at SAB's Winter Ball. "The idea for this piece came from seeing the way René Magritte used curtains to frame his surrealist images," Farley says. "And since this year’s Winter Ball is a celebration of SAB’s 80th anniversary, I thought it would be fun to weave hallmark classroom combinations from past and present SAB faculty members into the choreography. Hopefully the SAB teachers in the audience will recognize some of the steps."
Who knows what lies ahead in Farley's choreographic future. But I have to say, I like his taste: When I asked him whom he'd choose if he could choreograph on any dancer in the world, after saying that was "an almost impossible question," he picked NYCB soloist Taylor Stanley. "I've known him since we were students at SAB together, and have marveled at his growth as an artist—he has an exquisite balance of power and poetry in his dancing."