Choreographer ‘creates amazing shapes with the dancers’ bodies’
Next weekend New York City Ballet principal dancer Daniel Ulbricht comes back to the Lensic Performing Arts Center for the third year in a row with stars of American ballet.
Taking on the roles of impresario and dancer, Ulbricht puts together two programs that feature the extraordinary talents of soloists and principal dancers of the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre.
“I knew I wanted the piece ‘Fancy Free’ at the end of both programs,” he explained. “Then I built the programs around that work.”
“Fancy Free” is an ensemble piece created by choreographer Jerome Robbins involving seven of the show’s eight dancers. This is the first time Ulbricht has brought a ballet by Robbins to Santa Fe. Three of the festival’s works were choreographed by one of Ulbricht’s favorite choreographers, Christopher Wheeldon.
“Christopher creates amazing shapes with the dancers’ bodies,” said Ulbricht. “He gives a narrative to each one of his works, regardless of whether it’s abstract or not, and easily creates a mood on stage. His ballets are hard to perform.”
Friday night’s program includes Wheeldon’s “Liturgy,” while Saturday night’s repertoire features “Liturgy” and Wheeldon’s pas de deux “Carousel.”
Two dances choreographed by New York City Ballet’s co-founder George Balanchine, “Rubies” pas de deux from the ballet “Jewels,” and “Stars and Stripes” pas de deux, are presented on Friday night. “It Should’ve Been Me” by New York City Ballet’s master-in-chief Peter Martins and “Giselle” pas de deux by Marius Petipa are featured on Saturday.
“My personal mission is not to repeat repertoire back to back,” said Ulbricht. “All of the works we’re presenting this summer are different from the ones we’ve presented during the past two years.”
In selecting dancers for the show, Ulbricht thought about which ones had the versatility and willingness to take on two different roles during the performance. Coming to town are American Ballet Theatre dancers Stella Abrera and Sascha Radetsky and New York City Ballet dancers Jared Angle, Robert Fairchild, Rebecca Krohn, Lauren Lovette and Tiler Peck.
Ulbricht, who dances in Peter Martins’ “Zakouski” on Friday night and “It Should’ve Been Me” on Saturday night, was promoted to the rank of New York City Ballet soloist in 2005 and principal dancer in 2007. He has performed featured roles in many ballets in the company’s repertory, including Balanchine’s “Prodigal Son,” “Tarantella,” “Stars and Stripes” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
He is currently the artistic adviser to Manhattan Youth Ballet and the associate artistic director of the New York State Summer School for the Arts in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. A guest teacher at the School of American Ballet and Ballet Academy East, he also teaches at dance schools, private schools and universities throughout the United States.
Ulbricht is the co-founder, co-producer and artistic director of the annual Dance Against Cancer Benefit for the American Cancer Society.