Ritornare, Partita No.2 in C Minor, Lasciatemi Qui Solo, The Innermost Part of Something
Joyce Theater Ballet Festival
New York, Joyce Theater
13 August 2015
Comparisons are hard to avoid within The Joyce’s Ballet Festival, which features six small companies, each pushing ballet towards some new frontier. Several of the companies presenting work last week failed to push in new directions without meeting resistance. Emery LeCrone, the penultimate group on the Festival’s roster, suggests promise for the future of the form,
LeCrone, a young but fairly prolific choreographer with roots at North Carolina Dance Theater (now Charlotte Ballet), presented a program of four short works featuring dancers from her own company and stars from New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Her work is formal, structurally specific, and gorgeous, but occasionally lacks risk and high stakes.
The New York premiere of Ritornare exemplifies this. It is breathtaking, with Shane Ohmer and Izabela Szylinska’s twin bodies mirroring one another with soft precision. They are both impossibly long and lean creatures, but the piece sometimes demands a hunched quality that diversifies their lines. LeCrone perhaps takes advantage of their long limbs too frequently; there are countless split lifts dotting the piece, and arms constantly wave and cross the body.
LeCrone’s most star-studded work is also her most formal. Partita No.2 in C Minor features New York City Ballet soloist Russell Janzen and American Ballet Theatre principals Stella Abrera and Alexandre Hammoudi. City Ballet principal Sara Mearns was slated to perform, but had to bow out due to altitude sickness from her stint in Vail. Though I regret that Mearns isn’t at her best, her replacement, Stephanie Williams of ABT, was a treat. It isn’t every day that one can see a corps de ballet member dancing leading roles amongst high-profile principals, and Williams has done so twice for Ballet Festival (the first time for Joshua Beamish). The recognition and spotlight are well deserved.
Partita pairs no-nonsense musicality with majestic playfulness. The women slide across the stage on pointe, and roll their hands in front of their chests in a gesture almost identical to the classic “let’s dance!” Williams arabesques in front of Janzen, then sneakily creeps around him to land in front and repeat the sequence. Abrera’s neck and chest are endlessly expressive, but Hammoudi is overly stiff.
A smoky solo for Kimi Nikaidoh, Lasciatemi Qui Solo, has a sense of urgency that the other pieces on the program do not. And yet it is performed to a pillowy harp score and Molly Netter’s sweet soprano. This contrast, along with the horizontal pillars of light designed by Brandon Baker, make the solo LeCrone’s most digestible work of the evening.
The Innermost Part of Something contains some risks well-taken, others not so much. With generous movements of the back, and partnering so fluid it seems improvised, the first section of the piece is grounded and dynamic. Strange costumes, multicolored pieces stitched together to create busy, disjointed ensembles, and electronic music that sometimes veers into the doom-like, make it hard to appreciate the triumph of the movement.
I was relieved to see a plain pink leotard and to hear a melodic violin midway through the piece, but why the shift? It felt like two pieces shoved together, for the second half contained duets that more closely resembled the classicism of her earlier works. In a program of strangely short works, however, it was satisfying to see something more developed. I want to see what LeCrone can do with more bodies and longer pieces.