Colourful and light-hearted, classical and emotive, vibrant and experimental, the variety of themes that form the four-part ballet dance series ‘Turn it Out with Tiler Peck & Friends’, makes the performance as a whole stand out as a contemporary pool of artistic talent.
The string that ties them together is the star of the show, Tiler Peck herself, the California-born principal dancer of New York City Ballet, who choreographs parts and dances in others. With Peck’s guiding presence, the variety of themes, types of dance, along with the music, just flies. Knowing that the four-part series is her project makes one perhaps appreciate and connect the impressive range of reactions they experience while watching, rather than come away confused by the choice of seemingly unrelated themes.
The first performance, Thousand Orange, is bouncy and friendly. Six dancers with their synchronised movements share the stage with a group of classical musicians who connect us viewers through a strong far-reaching sound. Going into the second performance, entitled Swift Arrow, we quickly learn that live music played on stage becomes a central theme to the show as a whole. For this performance, a single pianist accompanies an emotional ballet duet. The choreography is bold, free, and envelops the viewer into an emotive performance between two lovers, highly contrasting to the previous performance.
Time Spell, the third performance is even more starkly different from the previous two, and perhaps the most unique of the whole production. We are transported between ballet, contemporary, tap and jazz, where sometimes the dance style juxtaposes the music playing and sometimes it doesn’t. The performance becomes intricately layered as the two musicians on stage use loop pedals to create its musical script live. Acapella gospel sounds in the music compliment the tap and jazz themes, while electronic beats give the ballet and contemporary elements a solid foundation. With every added layer in the music the dance becomes more dramatic, ending with a hugely dynamic full-cast group choreography. The manner in which this performance interweaves so many different elements is truly impressive and demonstrates the skill and creative talent of the project at large.
Drawing from this gripping energy, the last performance, entitled The Barre Project, Black Works II, is delineated by hard electronic beats. Dancers take turns to run onto the stage, perform their solo, and run off. The choreography is smart to take classical ballet movements and infuse them with an energetic, quick and dramatic rigidity that complements the cold electronic soundtrack. The choreography is certainly entertaining and works to display the dancers’ individual talents.
The ending to the fourth dance is perfect to bring the viewer back to their seats – the music ends and the dancers continue for a few bars before they stop in an elegant pose together as the viewer is offered space to absorb the last hour and a half of events.
Image credit: Time Spell – Christopher Duggan
Review by Michela Giachino
Since studying History of Art at The University of Oxford Michela has continued to pursue her interests in art and culture. She particularly enjoys considering how contemporary and historical art forms are presented to the wider public through exhibitions and viewings at art institutions. Michela’s favourite mediums include photography, film, painting and drawing, and she is always excited to learn about new art.
Award-winning New York City Ballet principal dancer Tiler Peck presents the European premiere of Turn It Out with Tiler Peck & Friends at Sadler’s Wells.
With her personal touches on the evening, Peck has assembled many of today’s most exciting dance artists for an innovative programme.
Thousandth Orange choreographed by Peck is set to live music by Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw.
Swift Arrow by award-winning choreographer Alonzo King is a pas de deux featuring Peck and Roman Mejia with music composed by Jason Moran.
Time Spell is a collaboration between Peck and world class tap dancer Michelle Dorrance alongside Jillian Meyers, featuring a mix of ballet and tap with vocal accompaniment.
The programme closes with The Barre Project, Blake Works II, which marked the first creative partnership between Peck and acclaimed choreographer William Forsythe. Originally created for film and hosted online by Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage, it was produced by CLI Studios with music by James Blake and is now performed live.
Featuring performances by:
India Bradley, Michelle Dorrance, Jovani Furlan, Christopher Grant, Lex Ishimoto, Lauren Lovette, Brooklyn Mack, Aaron Marcellus, Roman Mejia, Jillian Meyers, Mira Nadon, Tiler Peck, K.J. Takahashi, Byron Tittle, and Penelope Wendtlandt.