Reviews of New York City Ballet.
What struck me more than ever on Tuesday is how many kinds of musicality Balanchine deploys to lead his audience into his stage worlds. He has no formula. In “Episodes,” the Five Pieces (Op. 10) section begins with a man and woman’s advancing tentatively toward each other on a single diagonal through the dark, as if walking a perilous tightrope. Before and after that, by contrast, the Symphony (Op. 20) and Concerto (Op. 24) are executed in white light and employ formally academic ballet language — but ballet at its most densely modernist, including still-arresting devices like flexed feet, thrusting pelvises, leg extensions above head height, off-balance tips and overtly strenuous, tense partnerwork.
What distinguishes these works from one another also exposes them as kin. They may approach the task in their own way but, modernist to the core, they all rework the ballet idiom. They are obsessed by form and materials.
When ballet is reinventing itself, the steps need a thrumming vibrancy to compensate us for our disorientation. On Tuesday the dancing was largely flat – lacklustre and tentative.