Herman Schmerman (Pas de Deux) – 21st Century Choreographers, NYCB


Herman Schmerman (Pas de Deux)
21st Century Choreographers I
New York City Ballet
29 April 2014
Lincoln Center, NYC

Music: Thom Willems
Choreography: William Forsythe
Principal Casting: Maria Kowroski, Amar Ramasar

Costumes: Gianni Versace
Lighting: Mark Stanley

Premiere: 1992, The Diamond Project, New York State Theater, with Kyra Nichols, Margaret Tracey, Wendy Whelan, Jeffrey Edwards, Ethan Stiefel

“I first heard that phrase [‘Herman Schmerman’] used by Steve Martin in the film “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.” I think it’s a lovely title that means nothing. The ballet means nothing, too. It’s a piece about dancing that will be a lot of fun. It’s just five talented dancers dancing around — and that’s good, isn’t it?”
– William Forsythe

Like Balanchine and Cunningham before him, William Forsythe consummately exploits a genius for collaborations that bring music and dance together for the space of a performance while maintaining the integrity of each, advancing classical forms through deconstructions of varying subtlety and consistent sophistication.

Forsythe and composer Thom Willems were well served on Tuesday by Maria Kowroski and Amar Ramasar, with tongue-in-cheek romantic chemistry and a seemingly intuitive feel for physical comedy in a work that simultaneously calls for precise control of two high-performance bodies challenged to the breaking point with rescues from pratfall-inducing torques and other subversions of the ballet lexicon.

The choreographer distilled this essay on the pas de deux from a longer piece he first wrote for five dancers.