Rarely these days do ballet companies place large bets on emerging choreographers, particularly female choreographers.
Rarely do the East and Left Coasts of dance acknowledge each other’s existence.
And rarely do ballet companies take enormous musical risks.
This season, New York Theatre Ballet has done all three, raising the roof at New York Live Arts with a mixed bill that defies the rules of dance programming, and that vaunts the creations of three young choreographers, two of them women, against the work of titans.
The evening opened with Chemical Bond, a diverting trio for Joshua Andino-Nieto, Amanda Treiber and Mayu Oguri. The work of San Francisco-based choreographer Milissa Payne Bradley wittily evokes the thermochemical reaction that produces water – without getting tiresomely literal about it – thereby conveying a whimsical and poignant parallel to the dynamics of intimate human encounters.
Such Longing by the masterful Richard Alston proved a moving meditation on loneliness, set to Chopin.
Antique Epigraphs, Jerome Robbins’ masterpiece of quasi-Grecian restraint, looks divine at unusually close quarters. The exquisite restaging is the handiwork of Kyra Nichols, who graced the original 1984 cast. The intimate setting at NYLA highlights the fascinating individuality of the eight maidens conjured up by the magical flute of Mira Magrill.
The evening closed with a tumultuous 48-minute account of Philip Glass’ suite of piano etudes arranged for steel drums. The 12-member NYU Steel ensemble took no prisoners. Neither did choreographers Steven Melendez of New York Theatre Ballet, and Zhong-Jing Fang of American Ballet Theatre, who titled their collaboration Song Before Spring.