How Lauren Lovette’s new work speaks to the future

The young choreographer spurns convention for something more authentic

On September 28, two men danced like they’d never done before. It was crisp, elegant and romantic. It was also the first of its kind, according to New York City Ballet, which opened its fall gala with a highly regarded program that featured new works from several established and rising stars.

But the one that caught many people’s attention was a world premiere by Lauren Lovette, a budding choreographer who presented her second original work for NYC Ballet during its fall 2017 fall gala. Her piece, titled Not Our Fate, explored love, race, and in this case, an ostensibly same-sex relationship. The players involved: company members Preston Chamblee and Taylor Stanley.

And it very nearly didn’t happen. As Lovette told the New York Times, “I wanted to find a dancer that had a very liquid quality—a strength but also a dramatic side and a contemporary feel and I wasn’t finding it,” she said. “Then I thought Taylor has that. That’s exactly Taylor. Why can’t I put two guys together?”

Why not indeed.

Lovette’s debut for New York City Ballet is perhaps one example of the generational shift taking place in companies and arts organizations across the world, and its message is clear: convention is dying, whether in matters related to romanticism or the perception that men and women are bound by tradition.

Not everyone is as forward-thinking. Shortly after Lovette’s debut, the choreographer Alexei Ratmansky drew heavy criticism for stating on his Facebook page that “sorry, there is no equality in ballet.” He went on to state that women have roles, men have theirs; it's simply a matter of tradition. But if tradition is what counts, then people like Lovette might not be choreographing at all. That would be a loss for everyone.