What We Learned from "city.ballet." Season 2, Episode 6
Season 2 of “city.ballet.”—the AOL On series that gives an insider’s look at New York City Ballet—is live now! We’re recapping one episode per week. Watch all 12 at dancemagazine.com.
Let's establish this right off the bat: Alexei Ratmansky is a genius. The prolific choreographer—it seems like he has a new work premiering every five minutes—has made four works for New York City Ballet, and episode 6 of "city.ballet." follows the creation of the fourth, Pictures at an Exhibition, which premiered this fall. Here are five things we learned from the ep.
1. The dancers are totally, utterly devoted to Ratmansky. They will do anything for this guy. "I will roll around on the floor and then get up and do a manège," principal Sara Mearns says. "I'll do it twice. And he's actually making me do that!"
2. Ratmansky himself is a pretty fantastic mover. He used to dance with the Bolshoi Ballet, so there's obviously a lot of training in his body. But that's not what's impressive about him—there's something ineffable about the quality of his movement. Even the amazing NYCB principals working behind him can't pick up some of its subtleties.
3. Once again, we see just how collaborative the choreographic process is.Like NYCB artistic director Peter Martins, Ratmansky keeps an open dialogue with his dancers as a piece takes shape, listening to and incorporating their ideas. "You feel like you're part of the process—like someone's not just directing you to do these steps," says soloist Georgina Pazcoguin.
4. The glimpses we get of Pictures at an Exhibition are enchanting. Full disclosure: I saw the premiere of this piece live, and am completely obsessed with it. But while it's rare for the energy of a live performance to translate on video, Ratmansky's choreography is so potent it even reads through a screen. It's just that full of character—and characters.
5. AMAR RAMASAR'S LAUGH. It's the last thing we hear in the episode, and holy mother it's amazing.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
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Isabella Boylston in "The Bright Stream" (Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy American Ballet Theatre)
Beloved by ballet fans for her lucid technique and onstage effervescence, by her Instagram followers for the deftly curated photos and videos she shares of her glamorous life, and by fangirl Jennifer Garner for all of the above, American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston is one of the rare ballet stars who's achieved mainstream fame. A native of Sun Valley, ID, Boylston trained at the Academy of Colorado Ballet and the Harid Conservatory before joining the ABT Studio Company in 2005. She entered the main company as an apprentice in 2006, and attained principal status in 2014. In addition to her successes with ABT, where she dances nearly every major ballerina role, Boylston has served as artistic director of the annual Ballet Sun Valley Festival, which brings high-level performances and classes to her hometown. And speaking of famous Jennifers: Boylston recently appeared as Jennifer Lawrence's dance double in the film Red Sparrow. Catch her onstage with ABT as Manon, Odette/Odile, and Princess Aurora during the company's Metropolitan Opera House season this summer in NYC. —Margaret Fuhrer