Polyphonia at New York City Ballet

01/29/12 David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza (Columbus Ave. at 63rd St.) Map
212-721-6500 Ages: All Ages
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"Romantic with comic twists," is how Christopher Wheeldon describes his new work set to ten eclectic piano pieces by Ligeti. Its brief sections run the choreographic spectrum from the bold, neoclassic angularity of Balanchine through playful duets, a dreamy waltz, a gentle, plaintive solo to the intense intertwining of one couple. Anchored by dynamic opening and closing ensembles filled with twisting turns, jabs and quirky hard movements, its eight dances seem to be tearing through the musical fabric. Overhead horizontal lifts, rolls and pushes off the floor contrast with classical ballet steps. The first of two key duets for the leading principal couple evokes sea creatures swimming, while the second looks like a strange plant growing and closing in on itself. The last horizontal lifts and fade out arrest the movement, frame it and let it dissolve like a film. Ligeti's polyphony (many individual voices sounding simultaneously) with fleeting references to Stravinsky, Debussy, Kodály and Prokofiev, among others, finds its match in the choreographer's interweaving of ballet and modem dance movement.

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