NYCB is Honoring Robbins—And Commissioning an SAB Student
Imagine being a student at the School of American Ballet, looking up to the dancers at New York City Ballet and hoping to one day join their ranks. Then imagine teaching your choreography to those dancers, and watching them perform it at the company's fall fashion gala.
SAB student Gianna Reisen will have this surreal experience this fall. The company just announced that its 2017-18 season will include a new ballet from Reisen along with premieres from Lauren Lovette, Justin Peck, Troy Schumacher and Peter Walker, all current NYCB company members.
Reisen has previously choreographed for SAB's Student Choreography Workshop and the New York Choreographic Institute. And for ballet master in chief Peter Martins to have picked her out from the many talented NYCI participants, we're guessing she's something special. But has any major company ever commissioned mainstage work from such a young artist?
The company is banking on in-house talent in an unprecedented way. But they're also celebrating a legendary in-house talent from the past: co-founding choreographer Jerome Robbins. The spring season will mark the centennial of Robbins' birth, and the company is throwing him the ultimate birthday party. Robbins 100 will include no less than 19 works by the choreographer, as well as a world premiere by Justin Peck in honor of Robbins.
And of course, the season will include a generous number of Balanchine favorites, including Symphony in Three Movements, Agon, Concerto Barocco, Apollo and Square Dance, as well as additional works by Peck, Martins, Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, Benjamin Millepied, Mauro Bigonzetti, Nicolas Blanc and Angelin Preljocaj.
Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.