Yigal Azrouël Designs for the Guggenheim’s Works & Process Series
Last week marked the Guggenheim’s Works & Process series 30-year anniversary. A recent commission from the program, celebrated at the April 2 gala, was “Bach Interpreted,” featuring new choreography by Emery LeCrone and costumes designed by Yigal Azrouël.
We were lucky enough to attend the intimate showcase at the museum’s Peter B. Lewis Theater (with just 285 seats) on March 23. We first heard from choreographer LeCrone and designer Azrouël, both answering questions from New York City Ballet principal dancer Jared Angle. LeCrone explained that she created two pieces set to the same music, Bach’s Partita No. 2 in C Minor (played by live by Vassily Primikov). The first iteration was a classical interpretation, and the second more contemporary, both in movement and costume.
“Yigal was one of the first designers I reached out to for the project,” said LeCrone. “I had seen the spring 2014 collection and it instantly made me think of [the architecture of] Guggenheim.” They described meeting for the first time, Azrouël insisting that if they worked together he wouldn’t be creating anything frilly. LeCrone assured him she wasn’t interested in tutus. “That’s when I first felt like this was going to be not only a wonderful collaboration but a mutual vision,” said LeCrone.
For the classical performance, done by New York City Ballet dancers Tyler Angle and Teresa Reichlen and American Ballet Theatre dancers Stella Abrera and Alex Hammoudi, Azrouël relied heavily on looks in white, giving the male dancers the only spot of color in grey tights. Reichlen and Abrera’s costumes in all-white featured bloomers with sheer shorts, peplums at the waist, and architectural panels around the bust and neck. The male dancers each wore simple, white crew neck tees cropped short at the waist.
For the contemporary rendition, dancers Sarah Atkins, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Pierre Guilbault, Richard Isaac, Ariella Freid, and Alfredo Solivan wore looks that more obviously referred to Azrouël’s spring/summer 2014 collection. Slivers of silk organza embroidered eyelet were paired with leather panels, mesh, and lustrous lycra. Black was the prevalent color, accented by glimpses of white and grey. Azrouël played up the male costumes, as well, with custom-made leather headbands, pants with cinched ankle cuffs and bold knee detailing, and a knee-length pleated skirt.
“I love to collaborate, especially on something that I feel so touched by. To work with the ballet dancers and to do something in the Guggenheim is a dream, in a way,” said Azrouël.