Acheron – 21st Century Choreographers, NYCB


21st Century Choreographers III
New York City Ballet
3 May 2014
Lincoln Center, NYC

Music: Francis Poulenc
Choreography: Liam Scarlett
Principal Casting: Rebecca Krohn, Ashley Bouder, Sara Mearns, Andrew Veyette, Amar Ramasar, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Anthony Huxley
Organ Soloist: Michael Hey

Costumes: Liam Scarlett (Costumes Supervised by Marc Happel)
Lighting: Mark Stanley

Premiere: 2014, Lincoln Center

Let’s say it was happenstance, and not a verdict on the state of ballet in 2014, that NYCB’s three-night survey of contemporary choreography concluded with the elegiac Acheron, the first work commissioned by the company from Royal Ballet artist in residence Liam Scarlett.

Set to Francis Poulenc’s Concerto in G for Organ, Strings and Timpani, which the composer wrote over a four-year period in the 1930s during which he was deeply affected – spiritually and musically – by the untimely death of his friend (critic and composer Pierre-Octave Ferroud), Acheron takes its name from one of the five rivers of the Greek underworld. The river of woe.

To quote Praline (Monty Python Flying Circus, episode 6): “Well where’s the pleasure in that?”

After sustained dancing to silence, we confront the shattering opening of Poulenc’s concerto, which becomes more meditative as reflected by the tempo markings: Andante, Allegro giocoso, Subito andante moderato, Tempo allegro. Molto agitatio, Très calme: Lent, Tempo de l’allegro initial and Tempo d’introduction: Largo.

Acheron then moves between pas de deux by three principal couples (Sara Mearns and Adrian Danchig-Waring, Rebecca Krohn and Tyler Angle, Ashley Bouder and Amar Ramasar), a male soloist (Anthony Huxley), and ensemble sections with five couples from the corps de ballet.

Let’s say this is a work that requires more than one look.