Dance Review: Underworld Notes, in the Homeric Feeling

February 3rd, 2014

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New York Metropolis Ballet Amar Ramasar and Ashley Bouder in “Acheron,” by Liam Scarlett, at the David H. Koch Theater. Andrea Mohin/The New York Instances

The young British choreographer Liam Scarlett nonetheless seems to be cherubic: curly-haired, extensive-eyed, with a contact of puckishness. What is curious is that his mind, by distinction, frequently turns to subjects of darkness, demise and the dead.

His initial development for the Royal Ballet in London, in 2010, was referred to as “Asphodel Meadows.” In Greek mythology, the asphodel meadows are part of the underworld historic Greek sources differ about whether or not individuals meadows ended up content. A later on work he created for that firm, “Sweet Violets” (2012), was about the connections between murder, sexuality and artwork in late-Victorian and Edwardian London.

Now, in his extreme but murky debut creation for New York Town Ballet that received its world premiere on Friday night at the David H. Koch Theater, Mr. Scarlett returns to the Greek underworld. Its name is “Acheron,” soon after 1 of the five rivers that ran by way of the realm of the dead.

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The music is the Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani by Poulenc, the composer employed by Mr. Scarlett in “Asphodel Meadows.” Poulenc, who concluded this organ concerto in 1938, was motivated by the dying of a musical colleague and buddy the score led him to achieve a new maturity. It is straightforward to hook up it to feelings of death and the useless: It commences with significantly harsh organ chords and functions consolatory strings. The organ portion, sounding lighter at the Koch Theater than I have read it in other contexts, was vividly played on Friday by Michael Hey, a guest. (Clotilde Otranto executed.)

From left, Sara Mearns, Adrian Danchig-Waring (behind), Amar Ramasar and Ashley Bouder in “Acheron.” Andrea Mohin/The New York Moments

This score also accompanies Glen Tetley’s ballet “Voluntaries” (1973), created for the Stuttgart Ballet in memory of the choreographer John Cranko. “Voluntaries” — although by no indicates universally admired and often deemed unmusical and manipulative — has been staged by a extensive number of businesses around the world. “Acheron,” like “Voluntaries,” opens with sustained dancing in silence.

Soon right after the curtain rose on “Acheron,” I remembered how Tom Stoppard’s play “The Creation of Love” commences on the banks of another river of the Greek underworld, the Styx, with its ferryman, Charon. The protagonist, the classics scholar A. E. Housman, begins by saying: “I’m dead, then. Excellent. And this is the Stygian gloom a single has heard so a lot about.” Mark Stanley’s lights for “Acheron” is equally somber and shadowy. Men are bare chested, in tights ending just beneath the knee. Girls, putting on attire, have bare shoulders and arms. Mr. Scarlett has made the costumes, on which all color is witnessed to fade into grey.

So it’s surely right to get in touch with Mr. Scarlett’s work “Acherontic,” a phrase whose dictionary meanings include “infernal, gloomy, waiting to cross Acheron, moribund.” The ballet is led by three male-feminine partners (Sara Mearns and Adrian Danchig-Waring, Rebecca Krohn and Tyler Angle, Ashley Bouder and Amar Ramasar), a lone male soloist (Anthony Huxley) and 5 supporting male-woman partners. A recurring overhead lift seems to refer to Act II of “Giselle,” in which the ghostly heroine maintains a growing arc over the hero’s head as he holds her aloft.

Given that “Asphodel Meadows,” Mr. Scarlett has been recognized for his ability in handling big groups. That’s in proof once more here — at each point you know you are observing Choreography — but it is hard to distinguish a Scarlettian individuality: Significantly about “Acheron” looks generic. Whilst it’s quick of energetic footwork, it goes overboard on partnering (all heterosexual). Ms. Mearns, Ms. Krohn and Ms. Bouder are rarely authorized to move without their companions propping them up although some of the lifts are novel, the ethos of feminine dependency is depressingly familiar. The most hanging solo dancing arrives from Mr. Huxley, a distinguished classical soloist, who listed here can make the most impact with undulations previously mentioned the waist.

Are these people dead, as the title “Acheron” implies? They are still creatures of sexual and sensual behavior. In 1 motif, Mr. Danchig-Waring, standing behind Ms. Mearns, runs his palms down her shoulders and upper arms Mr. Angle, also from behind, plants an emphatic kiss on Ms. Krohn’s neck and in a single incident all a few partners look to nuzzle every single other, heads and necks interlocking fondly.

Odder is the way the female dancers, lifted or supported, hold opening their groins at the audience. Near the end, for example, a amount of females, lifted from driving and dealing with the viewers, have their knees tensely bent and held collectively then, out of the blue, they portion their thighs for our advantage. This is a single of numerous images of actions that are never ever fixed in phrases of poetic which means.

An additional puzzle is Mr. Scarlett’s musicality. He hears the tunes, but rarely makes an intimately revealing reaction to it. (And Metropolis Ballet has the world’s optimum expectations for close relationship between tunes and dance.) His opening displays that he isn’t one of the exceptional choreographers who can authoritatively deal with the awkwardness of dancing in silence ahead of the tunes starts off. Though he responds to the concerto’s sharp temper adjustments, he does not make the most of some of the most putting.

While Poulenc’s score does not obviously prompt a dance reaction, it’s notable that on people situations when it does switch into metric vitality, Mr. Scarlett does not hurry to react. In 1 sequence, the audio out of the blue gives a collection of pulsating iambs but they’ve been sounding fairly a number of occasions just before Ms. Bouder, hanging from Mr. Ramasar’s arms, lastly matches them with iambic footwork.

“Acheron” will be danced 7 far more instances by means of March 1. (The Peter Martins premiere prepared for February has been postponed “Acheron” performances exchange it.) It is the last product on the triple invoice “New Mixtures,” which demonstrates that even though City Ballet is best acknowledged for its treasury of ballets by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, no organization anywhere in the planet matches it for its file of commissioning new ballets from increasing and proven choreographers from several nations around the world. The program’s other two operates are “Vespro” (2002) by Mauro Bigonzetti (Italian) and “Spectral Evidence” (2013) by Angelin Preljocaj (French). Alas, this European threesome does not make the American dancegoer long to swap continents.

Gloom pervades. One particular preserving grace is Bruno Moretti’s commissioned score for “Vespro,” featuring piano, mezzo-soprano and soprano saxophone. This tunes — like Poulenc’s normally really dissimilar concerto — commutes fascinatingly among Baroque and Modernist views. But Mr. Bigonzetti’s actions are just quaint strivings for result. And Mr. Preljocaj’s vaguely vampiric “Spectral Evidence” — to products by John Cage with some techno-rock passages that sound distinctly un-Cagean — is creepy, grim and tedious.

New York Metropolis Ballet performs via March two at the David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Heart

A version of this review appears in print on February three, 2014, on web page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: Underworld Notes, In the Homeric Feeling .

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