Over the years, the critical assessment of the architecture of the original Lincoln Center project has risen and fallen with changing tastes. I remember leaving the Moorish splendor of the New York City Center where ballet was red carpet magical and beginning at the NY State Theater (always, always it will be named this in my mind instead of its current incarnation) and finding everything so antiseptic.
No longer! I've come to love the NY State Theater (and the Met, though not Phil/Avery Fisher/Geffen Hall) especially for it's clean lines and nicely raked orchestra (redone). I admire the Jasper Johns and the Lee Bontecou in the lobby. But mostly I have always enjoyed going to the first ring level at Intermission and wandering among the oversized Elie Nadelman sculptures.
Last night Benjamin Millepied made this Johnson space newly fabulous. Working with terrific, high spirited young dancers from the Jacqueline Kennedy ABT School who rushed the interior courtyard balconies like a plethora of modern day Romeos and Juliets they undulated and kicked up their heels (literally) in a short but excellent presentation Counterpoint for Philip Johnson at the intermission. Though Millepied's premiere of his new ballet for ABT (I feel the Earth Move) and his Daphnis and Chloe were also on the program (hats off to Herman Cornejo who thrilled in both pieces), for my money, it was this entr'acte that made my heart beat faster.
Millepied thinks big. His LA Dance Project now has a permanent home in LA and tours the world, he is directing a film of Carmen, he partners in a website. Leaving the Paris Opera seemed wildly Call me crazy but the dancers of yore could never have kept up with his vision and ambition. I think Philip Johnson who loved new things would have been delighted.
(I am eager to see a companion exhibit at NYU's Gray Art Gallery on Johnson and Alfred Barr introducing design into America at MoMA)