Justin Peck's "The Times Are Racing"
Thursday night I saw Justin Peck's latest premiere, The Times Are Racing, and I felt compelled to share that this is his best yet. I'd thought that the promotional video for it was cool, but the actual performance put it to shame.
Peck has gotten into the habit with each piece that he choreographs of bringing in young, contemporary artists and musicians, which is an awesome effort to combine the hipster cool with something that's generally considered a little uptight and démodé. Last year, the music was composed by a member of the band The National, Bryce Dessner, and the costumes and theater art installation were designed by NYC-based artist Marcel Dzama.
For The Times Are Racing, Peck collaborated with musician Dan Deacon, Opening Ceremony fashion designer Humberto Leon, and Brooklyn-based visual artist Santtu Mustonen. The music was phenomenal. It was thumping, nuanced, moving—I found that I wanted to get up on stage and dance with everybody else. It was difficult to keep still. The costumes were designed to look like street clothes, but upon closer look I could tell from seams and hemlines that they were made specifically for the piece (basically, they had extra details that would not be found in average off-the-rack clothing—more seams equal more money, e.g.). The lobby's art installations were hypnotic, colorful morphing shapes projected onto near-ceiling-high screens.
Above all, the choreography was superb. It was inventive, mixing elements of tap and breakdancing with the fluidity of ballet. I was particularly impressed that he didn't shy away from having the both the female and male lead (seemingly-effortlessly) do a breakdance move where they individually lowered their bodies to the floor using one hand, repeatedly.
At the end of the performance, the entire audience gave a standing ovation. In fact, most were on their feet before the curtain fully dropped. After the houselights came on, and in response to my approving exclamation about the piece, the woman next to me said, "There may be some good left in the world after that."