Namouna, A Grand Divertissement – 21st Century Choreographers, NYCB


Namouna, A Grand Divertissement
21st Century Choreographers I
New York City Ballet
29 April 2014
Lincoln Center, NYC

Music: Edouard Lalo
Choreography: Alexei Ratmansky
Principal Casting: Sterling Hyltin, Ashley Bouder, Sara Mearns, Robert Fairchild, Megan Fairchild, Abi Stafford, Daniel Ulbricht

Costumes: Marc Happel and Rustam Khamdamov
Lighting: Mark Stanley

Premiere: 2010, Lincoln Center

Divertissement – A short dance within a ballet that displays a dancer’s technical skill without advancing the plot or character development. Origin: early 18th century (specifically denoting a short ballet): French, from divertiss-, stem of divertir, from Latin divertere ‘turn in separate ways.’

Steeped in the classical tradition with a technical idiom all his own,  Alexei Ratmansky is a dancer’s dream. He makes dances that combine the conventions of 19th century ballet with the highest level of virtuosity attainable today.

Inspired by a ballet score by Édouard Lalo, Namouna, A Grand Divertissement features seven principal dancers and more than twenty supporting cast members.

A young man in a sailor suit (Robert Fairchild) is tempted by three sirens (Ashley Bouder, Sara Mearns, and Sterling Hyltin) and a chorus of nymphs before he finally chooses his true love.

Enough about the ballet. Let us talk about Sara Mearns.

In many ways Sara Mearns does not seem to fit the NYCB mold, but bless her, she is our decade’s ideal Balanchine ballerina. Tall, long-legged, with a famously supple spine and expressive hands that evoke Indian classical dance, she is also a powerful stage actress.

If only Mr B could have seen her dance.

This is not to take away from the brilliance of Ashley Bouder, Sterling Hyltin, and Megan Fairchild. More to come.