The entire ballet – described by the dancers as “subdivisions of time and space, intersections of isolation and community, longing and joy,” – brought ballerinas, tap dancers, break dancing, and live music all to the same stage.
While there does seem to be a “tap dance with ballet” fad sweeping New York City stages, this complete masterpiece credited to Michelle Dorrance, Jillian Myers, and Tiler Peck in collaboration and improvisation by the dancers held the audience entirely captivated from before the curtain even rose.
Placed third on the bill, audiences were still stirring in their seats with the lights up from a brief pause when a loud scratching sound was amplified on the speakers. Audience members were instantly engaged and placed in wonder with one man even asking aloud, “Is that a dog?” when the curtain rose to reveal a solo tap dancer.
Two vocalists – Aaron Marcellus and Penelope Wendtlandt – entered the stage and began vocalizing beats to the tapper. Slowly, it became evident to the audience that the concept of the ballet was that the singers were mixing music live on stage to sync with the percussive tap beats.
Despite so many dance genres and styles colliding, the ballet was assembled cohesively and flowed effortlessly. The spectacular, energetic, and thrilling movement took audiences on an experience of pure joy and revelry.
A wooden tap plank sliding on and off the stage, the musicians moving across the stage with the dancers, and sly costume changes slowly bringing the color tone from muted neutrals to bold primary tones helped bring the diverse “sections” of the ballet together in a logical and cohesive manner.
Even with all of the performers coming from different backgrounds, it was absolutely electrifying to see how intensely they all engaged with each other. The piece culminated in a group dance at the finale, where the ballet dancers tapped on pointe and riffed off of the tap ensemble’s movements.
Time Spell was an absolute hit with the audience, as it took no time at all for the entire crowd to stand for the dancers’ bows congratulating them on an impassioned and soul-stirring world premiere.