Glaring White Lights: Pite and McGregor

If you are in New York City, don’t miss Thomas Adès: Concentric Paths—Movements in Music, the last production of Lincoln Center's White Light Festival. The four choreographers involved are top-flight: Karole Armitage, Wayne McGregor, Crystal Pite and Alexander Whitley.

Crystal Pite's Polaris. Photos by Andrew Lang.

The most earth-shaking piece in this bunch is bound to be Pite’s Polaris, with a huge cast of six of her Kidd Pivot dancers and 60 students from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. (Disclosure: Some of those students are in my graduate seminar at Tisch.) Last fall, when Pite was in the midst of creating Polaris for this Adès evening in London, produced by Sadler’s Wells, she said this in her “10 Minutes With…” interview: “I’m interested in working with emergent structures that appear in nature, like flocking and swarming, and also more urban images—traffic flows and that kind of thing.”

You can bet that when Crystal Pite works with the idea of flocks and swarms, it’s like no other choreographer working with those images. Her brilliance as a movement maker extends to both individuals and collectives, to both vast forms and small details. My students who are working on this piece say they’ve been super stimulated and challenged. Some of them declare that it’s been life-changing.

In this behind-the-scenes video you can get a glimpse of Pite's massive shapes and hear the excitement of the students working on it.

Wayne McGregor's Outlier

Also no slouch is Wayne McGregor’s Outlier, a stark, almost sinister piece he made for New York City Ballet in 2010 (which I wish they would bring back). The spatial pattern sometimes echoes the “concentric paths” of the music, creating a vortex of intensity. What I remember most is the lifts in which the women buckle their spines as though trying to escape.

The Adès evening, presented by Lincoln Center in association with New York City Center, is conducted and performed by Adès with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Calder Quartet. November 20–22. For tickets, click here.

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