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New York City Ballet’s “Architecture of Dance” presents Adès’s Concentric Paths

On Thursday, April 29, New York City Ballet opened its 2010 spring season with the inaugural performance of the “Architecture of Dance – New Choreography and Music Festival.”  The evening featured two world premieres beginning with Benjamin Millepied’s Why am I not where you are, choreographed to The Lost Dancer, a “splendid commissioned” work (Village Voice) by French composer Thierry Escaich. Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna, A Grand Divertissement, was the second work on the program, choreographed to Édouard Lalo’s iconic score, Namouna.  The premieres continue on May 14 when Thomas Adès’s “eloquent” (Los Angeles Times) violin concerto, Concentric Paths, receives its New York debut at the world premiere of a new ballet by Wayne McGregor.

Renowned as both composer and performer, Britain’s Thomas Adès works regularly with the world’s leading orchestras, opera companies, and festivals.  In September 2005 he directed violinist Anthony Marwood and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in premiere performances of Concentric Paths at the Berliner Festspiele and London’s BBC Proms.  An EMI disc of the work, with the same forces, was issued in March.  Now the New York City Ballet presents Concentric Paths with choreography by Adès’s compatriot Wayne McGregor, the resident choreographer of London’s Royal Ballet, and NYCB co-concertmaster Kurt Nikkanen as soloist.  The new ballet will be McGregor’s first work for NYCB, and will also mark the first time that he has created an original piece for an American company. 

To celebrate the company’s long tradition of commissioning new music, which dates back to George Balanchine’s collaborations with Stravinsky and Hindemith, four new scores were commissioned for “Architecture of Dance.”  Those by Jay Greenberg and Bruno Moretti will receive world premieres in June, as Escaich’s did in April, and Esa-Pekka Salonen’s powerful Violin Concerto will have its New York premiere, with the composer conducting and the concerto’s dedicatee Leila Josefowicz as soloist, on June 22.  All seven of the ballets in “Architecture of Dance” are world premieres, with new choreography by Melissa Barak, Mauro Bigonzetti, Peter Martins, and Christopher Wheeldon, as well as by Millepied, Ratmansky, and McGregor.  Five of the ballets – including all four of those with new music – feature designs by preeminent architect Santiago Calatrava.  Besides the festival, New York City Ballet’s 2010 spring season, which runs through June 27 at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater, pays tribute to the company’s extraordinary repertory, with 29 performances of ballets by founding choreographers Balanchine and Jerome Robbins.

One of the world’s foremost dance companies, New York City Ballet was founded in 1948 by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, both of whom shaped the history of 20th-century dance.  With approximately 90 dancers, today the company is the largest dance organization in America.  It has an active repertory of more than 150 works, principally choreographed by Balanchine, Robbins, and Martins.  Currently under the artistic direction of Ballet Master in Chief Martins, New York City Ballet remains dedicated to the preservation of Balanchine’s ideals.

In keeping with the festival’s architectural theme, five of the new ballets – all four of those set to commissioned scores (Bigonzetti/Moretti, Millepied/Escaich, Barak/Greenberg, Martins/Salonen), and the new ballet by Wheeldon – feature scenic designs by leading architect Santiago Calatrava.  Best known for his dazzling public projects, such as bridges, stadiums, and train stations, Calatrava is currently designing the new transit hub at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan.  “Architecture of Dance” marks the first time he has designed for the theater.

Except where otherwise noted, all of the new ballets will be conducted by New York City Ballet’s Music Director, Fayçal Karoui.  Earlier this season, the New York Times wrote, “Mr. Karoui showed fresh degrees of involvement with the performers, and they with him; if this continues, the music-dance alchemy of ballet may escalate into greatness.”

Karoui made his NYCB debut as a guest conductor in January 2006 with Martins’s full-length production of Swan Lake, and he was selected to become the company’s fifth Music Director later that year.  Since his appointment, Karoui has worked closely with Martins on all aspects of NYCB’s musical repertory, including the creation of the Ballet Master in Chief’s new full-length production of Romeo + Juliet in 2007, as well as a major revival of Robbins’s Les Noces, to Stravinsky’s monumental score, in 2008.  Karoui has also conducted much of the company’s landmark Balanchine and Robbins repertory, besides numerous contemporary scores that Martins has been instrumental in bringing to the NYCB repertory. 


“Architecture of Dance”: the seven world-premiere ballets

Commissioned score by Thierry Escaich; new ballet by Benjamin Millepied
Sat, May 22 at 2pm and 8pm
Wed, May 26 at 7:30pm
Thurs, May 27 at 8pm
Thurs, June 3 at 8pm
Score by Édouard Lalo; new ballet by Alexei Ratmansky
Wed, May 12 at 7:30pm
Score by Thomas Adès; new ballet by Wayne McGregor
World premiere: Friday, May 14 at 8pm
Sat, May 15 at 8pm
Tues, May 18 at 7:30pm
Thurs, May 20 at 8pm
Fri, May 21 at 8pm
Score by Alberto Ginastera; new ballet by Christopher Wheeldon
World premiere: Saturday, May 29 at 8pm
Tues, June 1 at 7:30pm
Fri, June 4 at 8pm
Sun, June 6 at 3pm
Fri, June 11 at 8pm
Commissioned score by Jay Greenberg; new ballet by Melissa Barak
World premiere: Saturday, June 5 at 8pm
Wed, June 9 at 7:30pm
Sun, June 13 at 3pm
Thurs, June 24 at 8pm
Commissioned score by Bruno Moretti; new ballet by Mauro Bigonzetti
World premiere: Thursday, June 10 at 8pm
Sat, June 12 at 2pm and 8pm
Fri, June 18 at 8pm
Sat, June 19 at 2pm
Commissioned score by Esa-Pekka Salonen; new ballet by Peter Martins
World premiere: Tuesday, June 22 at 7:30pm
Wed, June 23 at 7:30pm
Sat, June 26 at 2pm and 8pm



Ticket purchases

Tickets are available through Center Charge at (212) 721-6500, through the NYCB web site,, and at the theater’s box officeTicket prices range from $15 to $125.

All performances will take place at the David H. Koch Theater, which is located on the Lincoln Center Plaza at Columbus Avenue and 63rd Street.  For general information on tickets for any New York City Ballet performance, call (212) 870-5570, or visit

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© 21C Media Group, May 2010

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