The contemporary dance choreographer Pam Tanowitz suddenly seems to be everywhere. On Friday, the New York City Ballet announced that Ms. Tanowitz will create a work for its spring gala on May 2, adding to an impressive list of commissions that Ms. Tanowitz, whose 2018 “Four Quartets” received critical raves, has already notched up for this year. She has coming pieces for the Martha Graham Dance Company and the Paul Taylor Dance Company; she was also just named the first choreographer in residence at the Bard Fisher Center and is to create a dance there involving the City Ballet principal Sara Mearns.
Ms. Tanowitz’s ballet, set to Bartok’s String Quartet No. 5, will replace a previously announced commission from Emma Portner, who has withdrawn for personal reasons. The gala will also feature a premiere by City Ballet’s resident choreographer, Justin Peck, and George Balanchine’s “Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3.”
Although it had not yet been announced, a company spokesman confirmed that Ms. Tanowitz was already scheduled to make a work for City Ballet’s 2019 fall gala. Then Jonathan Stafford, the leader of the interim artistic team overseeing City Ballet, got in touch with Ms. Tanowitz a week ago to ask whether she could create a work for the spring gala. In a telephone interview, Ms. Tanowitz said she initially felt there was too little time. But after thinking about it, she decided she could draw on an outline of a work that she had developed at an American Ballet Theater choreographic workshop in 2017, set to the Bartok score, but never performed in public.
“It will be very different because I always create work with, and am inspired by, the dancers who I have in front of me,” Ms. Tanowitz said. “And it wasn’t on point, which will change. But at least I have a draft of something in my head.” The ballet will feature six women and four men, with costumes by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung, and lighting by Mark Stanley.
Ms. Tanowitz said that while she was “aware that it’s New York City Ballet and it’s a big deal,” she would approach the work as she would with any dancers. “I have to make sure I stay true to myself and keep an integrity,” she said. “I have to think, prepare, then let it go and see the dancers in front of me in the room.”
Her piece originally scheduled for the fall gala will now be created in 2020, she said, adding that she thought it would be a more experimental piece than the Bartok ballet.
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