When New York City Ballet announced it would premiere a new take on Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s “sung ballet” The Seven Deadly Sins, with choreography by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, some wondered if it would tap Balanchine’s provocative original, first performed in 1933.
The answer? Nope. “It couldn’t,” Taylor-Corbett says. “There are photos of Balanchine’s production, but no notation or film.” Taylor-Corbett, whose version debuts in May, has done extensive research, including interviews with Karin von Aroldingen and Allegra Kent, both of whom danced in a Balanchine revival of the ballet. “I wanted to embrace where others had taken it,” she says. “It’s moving my own concept forward.”
That concept includes Broadway star Patti LuPone, who will sing the part of Anna I opposite NYCB principal Wendy Whelan as Anna II. “I suggested Patti because she’s the one person in American theater with the gravitas and range for the role,” Taylor-Corbett says. “And this part seemed perfect for a dancer of Wendy’s great intelligence.”
Taylor-Corbett says this is an unfortunately fitting time to remount Sins, whose split protagonist, played by both a dancer and a singer, is indicative of the troubled times in which it was conceived. “Today, people are also trying to paint everything blue or red,” she says. “But part of what makes Sins great is that it illustrates life’s repeating cycle.”