Ballet NY

June 27, 2006

Bonnie Pickard and Fidel Garcia in Thaddeus Davis’
Once Before, Twice After
Photo by Eduardo Patino, courtesy Ballet NY

Ballet NY
Joyce Theater, NYC

June 27–July 2, 2006

Reviewed by Susan Yung


Ballet NY presented a carefully chosen, wide-ranging program for its recent Joyce Theater run. Its directors, Judith Fugate and Medhi Bahiri (both accomplished ex-ballet dancers), have figured out how to circumvent some recurring problems with chamber ballet: finding female dancers who are skilled on pointe, and choosing quality repertory that’s both stimulating and manageable. They seem to have accomplished both.

A few seasons ago Stanton Welch popped up on what felt like every mixed bill in New York, diluting the impact of his work. He is a favorite in part because his nonnarrative dances contain interesting patterning, evocative gestures, and challenging-enough ballet elements. Orange, for three couples and set to Vivaldi, showed a musicality that tended toward the literal, but the scenes and dancers shifted frequently, making it feel like a much larger cast. The celebratory mood and happy color scheme left the audience in an upbeat, if unoccupied, state of mind.

John Butler’s précis of Othello (1976) represented the historical narrative tradition on the bill. In this trio, nuanced yet energetic duet sections spelled out the complex relationship of Iago (Danté Adela) to Othello (Fidel Garcia), as spurned deputy, confidant, and traitor. Anitra Nurnberger portrayed an earnest Desdemona, whose tragic fate was dramatized by a powerful, sharply arched back.

Mel Tormé’s caramel vocals accompanied Jazz Fools, choreographed by Francis Patrelle. Bonnie Pickard and Addul Manzano toyed playfully with dips and pencil turns, demonstrating a clever integration of ballet and pedestrian moves.

Two’s Company
, choreographed by Toni Pimble and danced by Manzano, John-Mark Owen, and Lindsay Purrington, proved the most satisfying work on the program. Interesting details punctuated the dance, set to soulful Dvorák: intriguing entrances and exits, both men partnering the woman, and an ebbing and flowing dynamic.

Thaddeus Davis’ Once Before, Twice After showcased the confident technique of the company members—big leaps and planted balances for turns and arabesques (in one instance, a woman stayed on pointe at length for many promenades and poses)—around theatrics involving poses struck on chairs under dramatic lighting. See