Polishing Up History

Is it supposed to signify anything that Carole Divet has dressed Stacey Calvert, Albert Evans, Abi Stafford, and Arch Higgins in white miniskirts while Gold and Craig Hall wear shorts, and Philip Neal and James Fayette trousers? No, I don't think we have a gender statement here. Like its title, the ballet veers off in whatever new direction seems promising. John King's excellent commissioned score for violin, viola, cello, and bass clarinets accompanies Swerve Poems with its own devious, undercover journey away from its jazz influences.

O'Day is smart with group designs. He sets off Gold's opening stroll onto the stage against the skirted foursome's quiet upstage clump (elegantly lit by Mark Stanley), divides the six men into three-part counterpoint, and brings dancers running on in a line, holding hands as if contemplating crack-the-whip. He makes a jumping, turning line of women divide, leaving stragglers Carrie Lee Riggins and Pauline Golbin (wonderful in this) to flick their legs in some spicy gargouillades. The episodes he concocts show off the dancers admirably; Higgins gets an especially nifty solo. And Wendy Whelan and Philip Neal leap and leap in a driving last moment.


White Oak Dance Project
Brooklyn Academy of Music

New York City Ballet
New York State Theater
Through June 25

O'Day, it seems to me, doesn't cherish his own inventions enough. He's wary of letting us look at one movement or phrase too long or too many times. Whelan braces herself by putting her hand on Neal's forehead; little else in their duet subverts classical partnering quite so arrestingly. Fayette crawls in with the vivid Jenny Somogyi standing on his back; I could have watched them investigate this principle for a while. Their duet might become more ineffable, but incite fewer why?s.

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