What Wendy's Watching

What Wendy's Watching: NYCB Reprises Its Immigrant Ballet—With Passion

Oltremare, PC Paul Kolnik

Fourteen dancers troop in, all with suitcases as though just getting off the boat. They seem tired and anxious; they don't know what to expect in this new country.


Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti created Oltremare for New York City Ballet in 2008. This ballet plunges the dancers into a world where they have to fight for their survival. He portrays the plight of seven immigrant couples with force, passion and inventiveness. He has given the dancers feisty duets that are continually surprising. They roll, they pounce, they hurl themselves at each other. They are drumming up the courage to face the hardships of a new life. This immigrant ballet is even more relevant now than it was 10 years ago. We've all become aware of the risks of immigrating to this country and the precariousness of staying here. The NYCB dancers perform this ballet with a fierceness that makes it exciting to watch.

I've been struck by Bigonzetti's hugely inventive partnering before, especially with his Festa Barocca for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

This is Bigonzetti's third piece for NYCB; all have music by his frequent collaborator, Bruno Moretti. The choreographer was briefly director of La Scala Ballet and before that, the longterm director of Compagnia Aterballetto. He has made dozens of works for both ballet and modern companies including Stuttgart Ballet, English National Ballet, Ailey, Pennsylvania Ballet and National Ballet of China.

Oltremare will be performed Feb. 2, 6, 7 and 10. The entire NYCB Winter Season, with more than 25 ballets, goes until March 4.

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