It was the New Jersey Ballet at MPAC. The company is now in residence at the Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC). On November 19, a three-act modern ballet performance enthralled a full-house audience for ages spanning from children to august citizens.
The first act, Hallelujah Junction, used music by John Adams with choreography by Peter Martins. This work featured nine company ballerinas and danseurs draped in the sartorial elegance of black and white attire metaphorically linked both to the keys of a piano and the musically rich, cyclic intones of Adams’s oeuvre. Guest artists who joined the troupe for this segment included American ballet dancer and choreographer Lauren Lovette and American Ballet Theatre dancer Carlos Gonzalez.
Presented digitally, the piano composition Hallelujah Junction elicited an avant-garde energy that may have prompted bemusement for some audience ears unaccustomed to the genre; however, it did not curtail the visual, choreographic beauty of fluid movement radiating gently from the music.
After a brief intermission, the second act featured the world premiere of Purcell Suite, based on the musical afflatus of 17th-century baroque composer Henry Purcell. Choreographed by Harrison Ball, internationally acclaimed fashion designer Zac Posen designed exquisite thin-strapped floor-length ballgowns that floated like billowing clouds enveloping the dancers. Purcell Suite inspired movement of a mesmerizing, buoyant, and breathtaking pulchritude that intensified the visual import of the dancers.
The last dance of the second act was accompanied by a recording by Leontyne Price of When I am Laid in Earth from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. This exquisite selection held the audience spellbound, resulting in enthusiastic appreciation. During a second intermission, several New Jersey Ballet students sitting nearby remarked on the company’s excellent artistic evolution under Artistic Director Maria Kowroski.
The third act, entitled Who Cares? Choreographed and copywritten by George Balanchine, featured a selection of 15 well-known songs by George Gershwin from the years 1922 to 1931. This brought the influence of Gershwin’s remarkable music to patrons of all as it inspired tonight’s company to interpret it through powerful visual and beautiful representations.
For the Gershwin segment, costumes were designed by Peggy Casey that included gorgeous fuchsia tutus for the ballerinas with accompanying, eye-pleasing soft brown suits for the male dancers. The dance was staged in front of an imaginary city skyline, apposite for the mystique, romance, and energy of Gershwin’s music. Somebody Loves Me featured several of the company’s dancers, while The Man I Love featured a pas de deux by Denise Parungao and Jonatan Lujan. Ilse Kapteyn danced solo to I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise, and Risa Mochizuki captivated viewers with her interpretation of My One and Only.
The company performed the last song, I Got Rhythm, which is arguably one of Gershwin’s most famous songs from the 30s. This prompted resounding applause and a much-deserved standing ovation.
The New Jersey Ballet performed Hallelujah Junction with music by John Adams, choreography by Peter Martins, staged by Nilas Martin, costumes by Pro Tutu Studio, and lighting by Brian Coakley and Jesse Campbell with guest artists Lauren Lovette and Carlos Gonzalez.
The Purcell Suite featured music by Henry Purcell, choreography by Harrison Ball, costume design by Zac Posen, and lighting by Brian Coakley and Jesse Campbell; Who Cares?
The George Gershwin segment was choreographed by George Balanchine, staged by Deborah Wingert, with costumes by Peggy Casey and lighting by Brian Coakley.
New Jersey Ballet Artistic Director Maria Kowroski; Assistant Director Paul McRae; Managing Director David Tamaki; Marketing Director Kotoe Kojima-Noa; School Administrator Toni Ann Auriemma; Production Manager Brian Coakley; Stage Manager Mary Kate Grimes; Lighting assistant Jesse Campbell; Wardrobe Peggy Casey; repertory coaches Leigh-Ann Esty, Gabrielle Noa-Abbate and Rosemary Sabovick-Bleich.
The company includes Alberto Andrade, Emily Barrows, Rebekka Dizdar, Da’ Von Doane, Lilli Etheredge, Jackson Hafenbreadl, Yuiko Honda, Akira Iida, Se Hyun Jin, Ilse Kapteyn, David Lopena, Jonatan Lujan, Raleigh Ledford, Francis Lawrence, Risa Mochizuki, Denise Paraungao, Abigail Robison, Erick Rojas, Eunice Saba, Felipe Valentini, Joshua Vazquez, and Catherine Whiting.
Running time, approximately 150 minutes with two intermissions.
New Jersey Ballet performs Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite December 16-27.
The Mayo Performing Art Center, 100 South Street, Morristown NJ 07960.
Tickets to events are available at The Official Ticketing Site of Mayo Performing Arts Center | Mayo Performing Arts Center (mayoarts.org)
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