21-Jul, 17:39

15:40, January 30 171 0

2017-01-30 15:40:09
Party Coverage: Scene City: Opening Ceremony Swaps the Runway for the Ballet Stage

Often a night at the ballet can serve as an escape from reality, a respite from politics, with its gridlock and its brinkmanship.

But on Saturday evening, as crowds gathered at Kennedy International Airport to demonstrate in response to President Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration, a protest-themed performance at the New York City Ballet underscored the tensions of the world outside Lincoln Center’s halls.

The performance was both a dance piece — “The Times Are Racing,” choreographed by Justin Peck — and a fashion show for Opening Ceremony, which usually presents its collections during New York Fashion Week. Humberto Leon, who runs the company with Carol Lim, designed the costumes, which in turn inspired Opening Ceremony’s spring 2017 collection.

The audience included Derek Blasberg, Claire Danes, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Solange Knowles.

Mr. Leon said he had met with Mr. Peck “hundreds of times” to understand how his costumes could best serve the mood and themes of the ballet. He said he wanted a unique look for nearly every dancer in order for each to appear as authentic as possible, like “people meeting on the street.”

Mr. Leon did the obvious. “I got all the dancers names and I went through all their Instagrams to get what their vibes were,” he said.

To capture the ballet’s story of protest and community, Mr. Leon provided literal references: Shirts were printed with words like “defy,” “change” and “fight.”

“Humberto had this brilliant idea of printing these action verbs on the garments,” Mr. Peck said, “and that gave it some sort of political undertones, which I think are very timely and important.”

Leaping and kicking dancers also wore all manner of everyday street wear: sneakers, dresses, crop tops, shorts, skirts, leotards and jeans. The last item left at least one audience member scratching his head. “I’m curious to know, were those real jeans?” the actor Hugh Dancy asked.

They were indeed real, said Savannah Lowery, a dancer who wore denim cutoffs. She explained that they had been long pants in their first iteration. “I could barely move my legs,” she said. So the seamstress turned them into shorts.

After the show, family and friends gathered down the block at Shun Lee, in honor of Chinese New Year, where guests munched on dumplings, ribs and langoustines.

Asked whether he found himself distracted by news of the president’s actions, Mr. Leon, a son of immigrants from Peru and China, noted that the ballet served a special purpose in its relation to current events.

“We knew this was going to open four days after the inauguration,” he said. “In many ways this ballet was an ‘open ended question’ slash ‘response to everything that’s happening.’ This is a time capsule. In 10 to 15 years they’re going to replay this and you’re going to know when this opened.”