Invisible Divide | Troy Schumacher & BalletCollective at the NYU Skirball Center…
When Troy Schumacher premiered the impulse wants company I realized that here was someone to watch. Mr. Schumacher has been a member of the New York City Ballet since 2008, so it should come as no surprise to find evidence of the influences of George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins as well as Peter Martins in his work. It can be found in how he uses the body in space, in how he weaves music and his dancers into one voice but most of all it can been seen in his willingness to take chances, his willingness to push the envelope and challenge not just himself but his dancers as well.
Mr. Schumacher founded BalletCollective in 2010 with the goal of exploring the collaborative process. He gathers together poets, visual artists, photographers, composers and designers that together work with equal voices, equal input towards the creation of new works. So far BalletCollective has worked with over 30 artists in the creation of new works.
Mr. Schumacher is classically trained and studied at the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet. So it comes as no surprise that his choreography is built upon the classical vocabulary. He also has studied with some of the greatest dancers of the 20th century, Patricia McBride, Violette Verdy and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux.
Each of the two world premieres had commissioned scores, Invisible Divide’s score was by Ellis Ludwig-Leone while Mark Dancigers created the original music for The Last Time This Ended. The eight members of Hotel Elefant provided live music for BalletCollective’s two night run at the NYU Skirball Center.
The Last Time This Ended, a duet for David Prottas and Taylor Stanley, had been inspired by three photographs by Israeli photographer Dafy Hagai. One photo was of a couple playfully rolling in the grass, another was of trees in spring and the last was of a car’s front windshield with a collection of beads hanging from its rearview mirror. Each photograph had its own mystery and possessed each own secrets.
Mr. Schumacher’s choreography was a series of rapid-fire choreographic phrases that pushed both Mr. Taylor and Mr. Prottas. They would perform beautiful leaps and execute these wonderful turns, sometimes with their arms waving or the torso arched back. The two would come together then separate, but still, there was this unspoken connection, an energy shared between them. The piece, though emotional, also possessed playfulness.
For Invisible Divide, a work for seven dancers, Ellis Ludwig-Leone incorporated the voice of Vanessa Upson to provide a powerful score that was rich in tone. Harrison Coll, Taylor Stanley and David Prottas all performed admirable. Each had his own voice, each making his own statement. Mr. Coll dances with such passion and confidence that he pulled you eye whenever he was on stage.
The women, Lauren King, Claire Kretzschmar, Ashley Laracey and Megan Mann brought out the youthful energies of the piece. Brandon Stirling Baker’s lighting design created a place that bended light and shadow and was true to the subtle drama that flowed through the work.
The imagery of Mr. Coll’s duet with Ms. Kretzschmar has stayed with me. He seems to pull her to him as if seeking someone to help with the loneliness and the despair he is feeling. He repeatedly gathered her into his arms only to then push her away, at one point boldly dropping her to the floor. Mr. Baker’s stark lighting augmented the rawness of the moment.
Eventually Mr. Coll broke away from Ms. Kretzschmar and began a deeply moving solo. You witness a moment of deep realization and can feel the emotional aspects of his plight. He explodes into leaps and turns with seemingly super-human strength. I sat there amazed by his expressive performance. Bravo Mr. Coll, bravo indeed.