New York City Ballet gets to grips with Peter Martins’ Barber Violin Concerto

Jewe s in the town

A year after their Balanchine retrospective, NEW YORK CITY BALLET are back in Edinburgh with their dazzling Diamond Project. WOrds: Jackie McGlone

ancers twist and tangle around each other in the

human equivalent of origami. A ballerina folds

and unfolds her limbs around her partner‘s body. completing a full circle backbend while her legs scissor the air. The movement is then repeated as a lift. Something neither 1 (nor critics and audience at New York City Ballet’s State Theatre. judging from their gasps) had ever seen before.

This is Polyphonia. one of the superlative new Diamond Project works made for this dazzling company by the English choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. NYCB‘s artist-in- residence. With works like the ‘luminously ambiguous’ Polyphonia and the ‘glamorously sexy‘ Mercurial Manoeuvres. he is proving a worthy follower in the illustrious footsteps of George Balanchine. one of the greatest choreographer of the 20th century. who founded NYCB more than 50 years ago.

‘Performing Polyphrmia is like doing geometry with your body.‘ says Wendy Whelan. the ballerina whose pas de deux with Jock Soto. amazes audiences. and for whom the work was made. ‘lt‘s a very taneg piece. we twist each other into some strange shapes. 1 think it suits me because it‘s angular. The music by Gyorgy Ligetti is very atonal and stringy and I‘m awfully stringy. so I just love it. “It feels like a gift. because Christopher really listened to what i thought.‘

Wheeldon's dances are. of course. just two of

thirteen Diamond Project works several created by ballet master-in-chief Peter Martins that the hugely popular company brings to Edinburgh. when it returns to the International Festival for the second year

‘Performing Polyphonia is like doing geometry with your body’

Wendy Whelan

running. The commissioning programme was launched by Martins in 1992 with the specific aim of nurturing new voices in ballet. because since its inception the company has put the emphasis on contemporary choreography. Last year alone there were nine world premieres. as well as one new music commission. Also coming to Edinburgh are new dances by Miriam Mahdaviani (the lively Appalachia Waltz). Richard Tanner. Angelin Preljocaj. Ulysees Dove. Lynne Taylor- Corbett and William Forsythe.

The latter’s Herman .S'elzmennan was also made on Whelan. who says the guru of the avant-garde. kept telling her it was just like dancing Swan Lake. ‘No. it isn‘t.‘ she would reply. ‘It was actually more like learning Chinese because it was so foreign and very

frustrating at first. So it took a while and a lot of

practice. but it‘s a great feeling when you know people are looking at you and thinking. “Wow! How do they do that‘.’”. Doing challenging new pieces is always lots of fun.‘ Whelan‘s partner in many of the Diamond Project works is Jock Soto. Now 36. he has been with the

the new works are difficult pieces.

sometimes they are very hard like

Polyphonia because Chris is a young choreographer. but I think his work just gets better and better. He‘s a major talent.‘ says Soto. ‘The more you do new dances. the easier they get. although Edinburgh is going to be a killer for me. 1 dance at every performance. because they are taking all the new pieces made on me.‘

‘1 just love the fact that these ballets are all performed without the safety net of sugar pink tutus.‘ adds Whelan as her dresser arrives in her dressing room with the skimpy purple leotard that she wears in Polyphonia. ‘lt‘s just us. the music and the steps. No fancy sets or costumes. just leotards and tights.‘

New York City Ballet is at the Edinburgh Playhouse, 28 Aug-1 Sep.

company since he was 16. ‘Many of

I Metapolis Charleroi Danses Plan K takes you deep inside the heart of the city in this multi— media blend of dance. architecture and film. See feature. Playhouse, 24-26 Aug, 8pm.

I New York City Ballet Three dynamic programmes, one incredible company. The New Yorkers build on last year's Balanchine retrospective with a showcase of new works from their 'Diamond Project’. See preview. Playhouse, 28—30 Aug. 7.30pm (2.30pm mat Fri 8 Sat) I Within Outer Spaces Heads on fire, luminous juggling, surreal amphibian crawling you’ve never seen anything like it. Prepare to be amazed, confused and just a little scared. C Venue, until 26 Aug, 8. 30pm. I The Pillow Book Japan's feistiest export, Shakti strips down to the bare essentials in this erotic exploration of the body‘s pleasures. Garage Chap/teau, until 27 Aug, 9pm,

I Yumiko lzuta in Relief Izuta rises above the pain threshold and uses her back injury as an inspiration rather than a restriction. An emotional journey worth taking. See review on next page. The Garage. until 27 Aug, 72. 75pm.

I The Spice ln Salsa Cuban folklorists Cutumba blend dance. music and song as they journey back to the roots of Afro-Cuban dance. Gateway Theatre, until 27 Aug, 9.45pm.