Some photos of the new ballet, which premiered last Friday at NYCB, by Paul Kolnik. Top is of Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall, bottom is of cast with Gonzalo Garcia and Sterling Hyltin front and center.
I liked Outlier if mainly because it provided something different for New York audiences, and the dancers seemed to love dancing it, perhaps to be challenged by a different movement vocabulary. Music was to Thomas Ades and was generally sharp and made for an unsettling vibe, which the movement complemented. Cast was all principles: in addition to Hyltin, Garcia, Whelan, and Hall, there were Ashley Bouder, Maria Kowroski, Tiler Peck, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Joaquin De Luz, Robert Fairchild, and Amar Ramasar. Dancers mainly danced in male / female pairs and movement was intentionally awkward, with lots of sharp, angular lines, jutting, hyper-extended limbs, at times rubbery-looking as a foot would go from pointed to flexed in a split second, and there were lots of kind of sliding motions in the upper body, which is uncharacteristic of ballet – classical anyway. The whole thing felt alien, ominous, something seriously awry.
Maria Kowroski, Wendy Whelan, and Robert Fairchild shone, as I think they have the bodies most suited to this kind of movement. The audience gasped audibly and some laughed in astonishment when, at one point, Maria Kowroski did an arabesque penchee with her lifted leg in attitude and she swung her leg up so fast and with such force (intentionally) that she looked like she was completely jointless. Then she wrapped her bent knee around her partner’s head — I think it was Amar but can’t remember for sure. She looked like a spider. And Robert Fairchild is really becoming one of the greatest male dancers around – at least that I know of. He can do anything and with such precision, not to mention massive amounts of stage presence.
Lighting (by Lucy Carter) was really cool as well, starting out a bright red, with an almost kaleidoscopic image on the back wall,then turning cream-colored and solid, and creating at times rather ominous shadows that highlighted the bizarre movement.
My main problem with the whole was that it didn’t really seem to go anywhere. A story never seemed to take hold and the movement and overall feeling you had remained the same throughout. Maybe I just need to see it again though.
Outlier was shown with two other, completely different ballets – Balanchine’s beautiful Serenade in which Kaitlyn Gilliland really moved me, and his Cortege Hongrois, with Sara Mearns dancing the part of the classical ballerina to splendid perfection with the very capable Jonathan Stafford as her partner, and Sean Suozzi and Rebecca Krohn ever entertaining as the Hungarian folk dancing duo.