For ballet fans, there is hardly anything more exciting than seeing a brand new ballet. New York City Ballet patrons have seen their share of new works — but there hasn’t been a world premiere at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in a quarter of a century.
So it was with great excitement that City Ballet finally reserved one — Justin Peck’s “In Creases” — for its summer home. And what a fabulous premiere it was. Shown on Saturday’s Gala night, this 24-year-old choreographer who is in the corps de ballet created an electrifying ballet. To music by Philip Glass, composed for two pianos, this mesmerizing work for eight dancers used the music as its framework. Going from this reference point, Peck found his way to maneuver through the music rather than with it.
The pianos, placed upstage and played skillfully by Elaine Chelton and Alan Moverman, cut a sharp figure. So, too, did Robert Fairchild and Sean Suozzi who stood out with their angular postures and daring acts that demonstrated a penchant for killer speed and fiery attack.
Fairchild’s solo was particularly noteworthy as he sliced the air with his limbs with wild rapidity. The roiling on the floor by the four women, Emilie Gerrity, Brittany Pollack, Gretchen Smith and Lydia Wellington, as the men tiptoed through them was also memorable.
Obviously, Peck, who is currently the choreographer-in-residence at City Ballet, brims with choreographic talent. We all look forward to Peck’s future.
This gala evening, with its Moulin Rouge theme, offered two other SPAC premieres as well — “Two Hearts” choreographed by Benjamin Millepied to music by Nico Muhly and “Les Carillons” by Christopher Wheeldon to “L’Arlesienne Suites” No. 1 and 2 by Georges Bizet.
Of the two, Wheeldon’s piece was the better. The well-known music, bold and brash, brought out Wheeldon’s aptitude for drama and splash. And with an all-star cast and intriguing scenery by Jean-Marc Puissant, “Les Carillons” was gratifying.
The piece, dressed in chocolate costumes accented with streaks of color, started out with the amazing men of City Ballet: Fairchild, Tyler Angle, Gonzalo Garcia, Amar Ramasar and Daniel Ulbricht. They commanded attention as they jumped in place to the audacious opening of the music. As the theme was brought down, the women arrived. And what followed some flavorful series of dances.
Wendy Whelan, who has grown into a skillful actress, danced a melancholy pas de deux with Fairchild. Maria Kowroski, who always breaks hearts with her supple luxuriousness, soared with Angle who lifted her to the heavens.
The ballet, which also featured the jaunty Tiler Peck as well as Lauren Lovette and Ana Sophia Scheller, ended with flair, bounce and bended knees and backs.
Millepied’s “Two Hearts,” with Tiler Peck and Angle, felt underdone. Still, the piece was conspicuous, mainly for its stylish black and white costumes by Kate and Laura Mulleavy. But the music felt heavy, dreary and downright dull.