Dd Response: New Chamber Ballet at City Center Studios
Miro Magloire knows how to make an understatement. As artistic director of Manhattan’s New Chamber Ballet, Magloire has built a reputation around his minimalism, showing a preference for subtlety over superlatives, and polite intimacy over grandeur in his production format. His small group of dancers and musicians is perfectly suited for City Center Studios, where he recently hosted an evening of two premieres and two works from the company’s growing repertory.
Three of the pieces were Magloire’s own, all adhering to a style that The New Yorker deemed “cerebral.” Moments and Lace, the two older dances, played out as rather anesthetic tone poems, while the new Bitter End added a hint of disturbing theatricality to the program, depicting one woman’s desire-fueled demise. Each of the works benefited from Candice Thompson’s delightfully simple costume designs, which highlighted the statuesque figures and long lines of dancers Sarah Atkins, Holly Curran, and Katie Gibson. Long-time New Chamber pianist Melody Fader and violinist Caroline Chin tackled the choreographer’s modern music choices with apparent ease, deftly balancing attention to irregular time signatures and passages that seemed to defy tonality with a constant awareness of the artists on stage.
Guest choreographer Constantine Baecher provided a pleasantly terrestrial, accessible alternative to the show’s otherwise intense offerings with Allow You to Look at Me. A playful yet powerful reflection on identity, memory, artistry, and relationships, Baecher’s new work unfolded as a lyric short story, complete with objective narration — spoken by writer Jonathan Parks-Ramage — and a mix of silent dialogue and monologue danced by Baecher, Elizabeth Brown, and Holly Curran. The piece simultaneously drew viewers in and held them at bay as the dancers repeatedly bared their souls, then withdrew protectively into their own minds and bodies. Whether or not Baecher achieved his broadly interpretable goal to, in his own words, “allow for who dancers are as individuals to become part of what they share with the audience” is open to debate. But his compelling concepts of movement and thought certainly make the former Royal Danish Ballet dancer turned choreographer worth keeping an eye on.