NDI New Mexico’s Winter Dance Escape
The Balanchine connection: NDI New Mexico The waltz seemed to spur George Balanchine’s imagination. The choreographer and co-founder of New York City Ballet had an early success with the genre: “A special attraction was Valse ,” wrote a reviewer in a Petrograd arts journal in 1922. “G.M. Balanchivadze [as he then was] proved to be a talented composer, choreographer, and dancer. Such a combination is a rare one.” Balanchine returned to the form throughout his career, creating works with a variety of mood and dynamics. Take his three great waltz ballets: 1951’s frenzied La Valse ; the deeply romantic Liebeslieder Walzer from 1960; and 1977’s grand-scale evocation of a lost age, Vienna Waltze s.
Then there’s 1967’s pared-down Valse-Fantaisie , a piece for six dancers, roughly 10 minutes in length, and with a limited palette of steps that is a wonder of invention. This fast-paced buoyant stream of motion, with music by Mikhail Glinka, forms the cornerstone of NDI New Mexico’s Winter
Dance Escape program, a showcase for its preprofessional group, Company XCel, and its apprentice dancers. The work was set on the students by former City Ballet soloist Zippora Karz, one of about 48 repetiteurs anointed by the George Balanchine Trust to stage the choreographer’s works throughout the world. The trust, founded in 1987, shortly after the choreographer’s death, keeps a steely grip on who may perform his ballets. Companies must submit a DVD of a recent performance displaying the dancers’ technique, agility, and speed — the last, a hallmark of so many of Balanchine’s works. It’s a credit to the young dancers that they passed the rigorous selection process.
Former Santa Fean Jesse Campbell and Haley Neisser, from the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, join the cast as leads, further bolstering this production’s connection to Balanchine. Farrell, one of City Ballet’s most legendary dancers, had a deep personal and artistic relationship with Balanchine, and understands, as well as anyone, the mechanics of his technique and the spirit of his ballets — knowledge that she is able pass on to her company members.
Fabrice Lemire, an artistic director with Cirque du Soleil, offers the premiere of a contemporary dance piece. Original works by NDI faculty members, including Tom Porras’ athletic, jazzy romp for five men set to “Mack the Knife,” round out the program. Performances take place at the Dance Barns (1140 Alto St.) at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27, and Saturday, Feb. 28, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 1. Tickets, $10 and $16, can be reserved by phoning 505-983-7661.
Fiona Jensen-Hitch, Olivia Caulfield, Kai Morgan, and Isela Flores in Valse-Fantaisie ; photo Kate Russell