On Monday and Tuesday, I was lucky enough to film two rehearsals for Avi Scher & Dancers, a company headed by Avi Scher, an emerging young choreographer in New York City. I was especially excited because I would be filming Sara Mearns (a principal at NYCB) and Marcelo Gomes (a principal at ABT) rehearsing together for Utopia Variations, as well as Christian Tworzyanski, who’s in the corps at NYCB and Abi Stafford, who is a principal there, dancing in Inner Voice. I was ready to be amazed by Sara, Marcelo and Abi (and duly was), but the one whose dancing really struck me was Christian’s.
Personally, I haven’t always been a big fan of New York City Ballet’s men, but I have noticed a real change in them over the past few years. The company’s men are becoming much more technically polished and refined, with facility and talent that comes very close to that of the dynamic and gifted women. When I watched Christian dance a soulful pas de deux with Abi, it was hard to understand why he was still in the corps. He illustrated the dramatic improvement of City Ballet’s male dancers perfectly with his fluid, flexible lines that were at once soft and masculine, graceful and strong. He partnered Abi with maturity and confidence, but he was a gentle and attentive partner as well. Christian’s facility is also very good, he has great feet and turnout, and he is a very clean dancer. His talent was evident in the open, relaxed (but not too relaxed) feel of his dancing, he never had to force anything, even a difficult lift that he and Abi worked on.
After the rehearsal, I thought about why Christian’s dancing had made such a strong impression on me, when I’ve seen plenty of beautiful male dancers before, even the day before, when I watched Marcelo in rehearsal. I think it was because I had been used to judging City Ballet’s men on a lower level than the women, and in general paid much more attention to the latter. However, perhaps because of all the contemporary pieces being brought into the company’s repertoire, which demand more from men than traditional ballets, the new generation of men seems to be more able to really dance. Rather than just doing some mime and displaying virtuosic jumps and turns, they are now being asked to master a more complex sense of artistry that is required to be effective in the new ballets by Alexei Ratmansky, Mauro Bigonzetti and Christopher Wheeldon, to name a few. To me, Christian embodied the new City Ballet man, and I can’t wait to see more of him, and the rest of the guys, in the upcoming season.
To see the rehearsal footage of Utopia Variations and Inner Voice, go to dancemedia.com!