|Andrew Veyette & Sterling Hyltin in Everywhere We Go. Photo: Paul Kolnik|
Peck continues to push himself and the dancers. Stevens' music can be thrillingly ornate, with fluttering flutes and clarion brass and pensive piano; at times, any of these instruments provide the beat. A choreographic tendency is to match some of these breakneck time signatures to the point where the most sure-footed dancers slip just trying to keep up; the trick is to push up to that line without crossing it. Peck very deliberately slows down some passages so they look like slo-mo, a filmic device that works to concentrate our focus, such as when Theresa Reichlen floats slowly amid a whirling crowd before whipping off some fouéttés.
Peck has great skill and an affinity for geometry and patterning. He creates fresh tableaux with the 25 dancers at hand, building structures one body at a time and then diminishing them in reverse. We see circles that blossom like flowers, matrices, wedges, lines, columns, clusters. This tinkertoy tendency is complemented by artist Karl Jensen's riveting backdrop, which at first evokes an Escher image of greys and blacks, and then morphs (kaleidoscope style, only vertically) to reveal negative spaces—bowties, octagons, squares—where light shines through.
|Maria Kowroski & Robert Fairchild. Photo: Paul Kolnik|
There are some new partner pairings: the vibrant Tiler Peck with Amar Ramasar (Stevens says he wrote a section with them in mind), Robert Fairchild with Maria Kowroski, both romantics at heart; Andrew Veyette with Hyltin, an ideally proportioned pair. And Teresa Reichlin assumes the cool lone wolf role, dancing solo or with several men or a pair of dancers. Veyette in particular seems to have blossomed in this work; he is among the most athletic of the men, and here bounds and bursts across the stage, unfettered.
Recently retired dancer Janie Taylor designed the smart costumes—white/navy striped tops and white trunks/tights for the women, and color block unitards with a pink stripe for the men. It's great to see a dancer's knowledge of functionality and style put to use, especially in a company that has in recent seasons turned to haute couture designers.
The one drawback was the piece's length. There were also several false endings when the audience thought it was over, only to have another movement begin. On the other hand, the many sections lend themselves to being excerpted.
|Do I know you? Photo: Paul Kolnik|
In any case, this artistically dodgy premise seems to have worked in terms of outreach, to an extent. Thanks to publicity about the project, chatter revolved around JR and his dance, even if it was about how he has never choreographed. (JR created the mezzanine floor mural last season, featuring the company lying in artful poses as the audience walked on top of them.) How Martins had to interpret JR's concepts into actual dance steps. About Lil Buck, a non-ballerino. About how the piece was inspired by the 2005 riots in and near Paris.
|Lil Buck and Lauren Lovette. Photo: Paul Kolnik|
It's also a surprise that this work was not the performance focus of gala night, because it had the devil-may-care attitude characteristic of such fare (Justin Peck's premiere took that honor). On the one hand, it's not a bad thing that Martins has enough artistic freedom to direct resources to an untested dance collaborator, but on the other hand, it's a lot of resources. But without such experiments, true talents like Peck might not be found.