REVIEW: Cincinnati Ballet playful, contemporary and, at times, daring at New York's Joyce Theater

Company makes a statement about ballet today

NEW YORK CITY—There’s something significant happening in American ballet—an embrace of humor, innuendo and bravura—that, during much of the 20th century, few choreographers would have countenanced.

Beauty, grace, precision and refinement are no longer the sole, or even premium, measures of greatness. Companies today, and the choreographers they hire to build movement on their dancers, have to work much harder to tease our senses, tug at our emotions and engage and hold our attention.

Some see that work as a liberation. This brings us to the Cincinnati Ballet and the wholly contemporary, playful and, at times, daring program it has brought to New York City for its debut run at the Joyce Theater. Performances, which crown the company’s 50th anniversary season, continue at the Joyce through May 12. 

It’s no easy feat creating ballet for people who may not necessarily consider themselves fans of ballet. Over three works of roughly 25 minutes each, we see modernism, multiculturalism, narrative and character arcs and, if my interpretation is correct, a ribbon of social statement—all without the compromise of ballet’s classical foundation. I’m not sure how George Balanchine would have cared for it, but on opening night, May 6, the nearly full audience—many trekked from Cincinnati for the occasion—left wowed and surprised.

Insiders can to read the rest of Matt Peiken's review and learn more about the mark the Cincinnati Ballet made at New York City's Joyce Theater.

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