Morphoses at the Guggenheim

Over the weekend, Morphoses had its first NYC program sans former artistic director Christopher Wheeldon. They presented two pieces, at the Guggenheim, as part of the museum’s Works and Process program. They commissioned two choreographers – American Jessica Lang and Swedish dancemaker Pontus Lidberg- to each make a different dance set to a score by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang.

(I wrote about seeing an early rehearsal here).

Using most of the same dancers (most of whom are from American Ballet Theater now, instead of New York City Ballet, as they were when Wheeldon was A.D.), the two came up with vastly different dances, both very engaging.

Lang’s (top four photos – all photos by Richard Termine) was more a study of gravity, as she explained (hence Misty Copeland here “climbing the wall”), and of contrasts between the masculine and feminine (indicated, to her, in the music by percussion and chimes).

Interestingly Lidberg heard the music differently and used the percussion section first, melting into the chime section, so apparently the music had no prearranged order. His dance was more lyrical, with the visual theme of a night-blooming flower.

I love that Morphoses now seems to be using a lot of ABT dancers – all soloists or standout corps members — Misty Copeland and Kristi Boone, Eric Tamm, Blaine Hoven, and Isaac Stappas – because I really connect with them. Other dancers included Melissa Barak, Laura Feig, Gabrielle Lamb, Rachel Sherak, Andrea Spiridonakos, and Matthew Prescott. And Lang mentioned that she also used her husband, modern dancer Kanji Segawa (the man doing the floor work on the right-hand side in the photo third from the top), in her piece, which worked well since the aesthetic of modern dance is more “grounded” than ballet.

To hear the music and see some of the dance, here is an excellent video made by the Guggenheim:


  1. Huh. I’ve never noticed before what an awkward line toe shoes can create with the feet when you’re not doing classical ballet.

  2. The Lidberg piece was truly mesmeric, the dancers moved seemlessly through quite extreme articulations while the ebb and flow of Lidberg’s choreography assured the spell was not broken for an instant.

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