Ailey or NYCB? What a decision…

June 11, 2008

I lied. I said in my last blog that I was headed to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to see the Ailey company perform… well, something came up and I ended up going to see NYCB instead.


Don’t worry, the Ailey tickets didn’t go to waste- some of my family members went instead. I was most disappointed that I wasn’t able to see the company perform Camille A. Brown’s The Groove to Nobody’s Business. I’ve heard so much about the work and I was able to see Brown perform a fierce solo this spring in Dallas, so I knew it would be great. My younger brother (who has said “I just don’t get modern dance,” breaking his big sister’s heart) went to the performance, and when I asked about Groove, said “Oh, it was about the subway, and it was awesome.” And everyone loved the signature Revelations. Of course, how could you not?


My evening at Lincoln Center was also quite enjoyable. I snagged a couple free tickets from a friend of mine who dances at SAB (a thank you shoutout to my ticket provider, you know who you are!), and went with a friend of mine from TCU (she’s here dancing at ABT’s Collegiate Summer Intensive). The reason I chose this over Ailey can be summed up in a name: Jerome Robbins.


I will admit, I’m slightly obsessed with Mr. Robbins. I did an ample amount of research concerning both his ballet and Broadway choreography in my Dance History class last year. In the process, I learned about NY Export: Opus Jazz, a work he created for a festival in Italy in 1958. It was meant to showcase American dance, and the dance is truly American. It’s also truly Robbins, a real blend of theatrics and dance technique, displaying both subtlety in movement as well as virtuosic feats. Reading about his process in creating NY Export (from deliberately casting an ethnically diverse cast, to creating movement, to designing costumes that included Keds Sneakers) was fascinating.


When I saw that NYCB was performing NY Export on the program (which included two other dances choreographed by Robbins), I had to go. This dance is not often performed and is atypical of most dances you’ll see on a City Ballet program. Off go the leotards and pointe shoes, and instead the dancers wear leggings, bright-colored sweaters, and matching sneakers. I thoroughly enjoyed the two Robbins’ ballets that were performed that night, but I was on the edge of my seat during this “jazz ballet” filled with high kicks, quick finger snaps, and multiple pirouettes and danced to the dynamic jazz score by Robert Prince. NY Export was the first ballet Robbins choreographed after working on West Side Story, and the two share the same spirit of vibrant, dancing teenagers moving to express the emotions rising up inside of them.


A new film taking NY Export off the stage and into New York is being directed and danced by NYCB dancers. To find out more, check out