Last year, New York City Ballet wowed fans by hiring its youngest choreographer ever, the then-18-year-old Gianna Reisen, to make a ballet for its Fall Fashion Gala. For this year's gala, held September 27 at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater, Reisen will be back alongside NYCB first-timers Kyle Abraham and Matthew Neenan. All three will present world premieres. Reisen, a former student at the School of American Ballet, is now an apprentice at Dresden Semperoper Ballett. "Living, dancing and choreographing in Europe has given me a set of tools that I could never throw away," she says. Reisen will work with a cast of 18 dancers to a score by John Adams, and will incorporate set pieces onstage. "I plan to tell more of a story this time around," she says.
Though Abraham, a highly acclaimed contemporary choreographer and artistic director of A.I.M, worked with former NYCB principal Wendy Whelan on her project Restless Creature, this is his first time choreographing for a ballet company. "It's very exciting, and it's very daunting," he says. Abraham plans on working with a cast of seven to eight dancers primarily in solos and duets, featuring principals Sara Mearns, Ashley Bouder and Taylor Stanley, whom he refers to as "a gift." "I'm very inspired by these new artists who have these different tools," he says.
As choreographer in residence at Pennsylvania Ballet and co-founder of BalletX, Neenan has choreographed for nearly a dozen ballet companies around the country. Yet having trained at SAB, he says this experience "feels like coming back home." He plans on working with 15 to 20 dancers and using a Dvořák string quartet. "I want the piece to be atmospheric and to the point."