Rachel Straus - Dance Writer

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Juilliard Dance

Published: June 17, 2014
Category: review

Everywhere We Go, We Go Together

NEW YORK–Justin Peck’s Everywhere We Go is a rolling canvas, inhabited by young professional dancers performing at their maximum capacity. Seen May 29 at the former New York State Theater, Peck’s newest work is set to a specially commissioned score by Sufjian Stevens, whose co-orchestrator, Michael B. Atkinson, was on the podium.
Stevens’s music is a riot of references, from marching band to film score–both the romantic and action varieties. Its nine
movements bear such titles as “Happiness is a Perfume” and “The Gate of Heaven is Love.” Banalities aside, their variety of musical styles give Peck, a City Ballet soloist and recently lauded choreographer, the opportunity to make a big, energetic work, featuring dancers who look like they are having the time of their lives.
Peck’s ensemble choreography is here constructed from dance phrases that ebb and flow like tides but at hyper-fast speeds, much like the progression of the score’s five- to seven-minute sections. The result is a choreo-musical equanimity—as if two lithesome, slightly mad wrestlers were sparring with identical vigor, time and time again.
Set designer Karl Jensen’s backdrop of alternating geometric patterns complements Peck’s alternating choreographic patterns. In three duets and one solo (by Teresa Reichlen), Peck focuses on each of the dancer’s unique qualities. Sterling Hyltin, for example, has always seemed like the spirit of the wind, and Peck has her repeatedly sail into the air like a thrown javelin, thanks to Andrew Veyette’s arm power. The charismatically confident Amar Ramasar, in another duet, is a dare devil whose fast footwork with partner Tiler Peck turns their relationship into a contest of who is the most fleet. (It’s a tie).
Andrew Veyette, Sterling Hyltin and Company in Justin Peck’s Everywhere We Go. © Paul Kolnik

Andrew Veyette, Sterling Hyltin and Company in Justin Peck’s Everywhere We Go.
© Paul Kolnik

Despite its breathless pace, the inter-complementary elements of dance, music, and set combine to make Everywhere highly digestible. Janie Taylor’s costumes, on the other hand, are completely out of sync. Why would Taylor, a former City Ballet principal, outfit the women in striped sailor tops and white tights, when there is no sailor theme? And while putting the men in dark unitards and women in white creates a clear visual division between the sexes, Peck emphasizes equality–not only between the sexes but also between corps and principals.
To this viewer, watching the corps in Everywhere We Go was particularly pleasurable. Peck was one of them for six years, so it’s not surprising that he gives them so much prominence and time. What was risky, but paid off, was that the corps’ choreography was often as challenging than the soloists’; executing Peck’s fast, bounding, complex moves in unison was no simple task.
Everywhere We Go isn’t a catchy title. But it alludes to Peck’s intimate relationship with his cast. He studied and grew up at the School of American Ballet with six of the seven principle dancers he selected. In an age when most ballet choreographers freelance and only become familiar with their dancers while creating a new piece on them, Peck is making dances for his professional family. The significance of Everywhere We Go is that, everywhere they go, they go together.

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