Ballet at the Barricades

An Englishman Works America, and a French Canadian Invades the Baroque

Rameau's music reflects all the changes of weather and mood, yet despite the dark moments in the plot, when Alphise is threatened in Boréas's Hades-like kingdom, the singing is meltingly sweet. When Alphise tells Abaris that abdicating for love of him will not only resolve her dilemma but make her happy, you could die of pleasure. Director Carsen partially solves the problem of making the sweet choral passages believable: The black-garbed people, through body language, give the words an ironic cast.

Ritual: Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto in Christopher Wheeldon's Liturgy
photo: Paul Kolnick
Ritual: Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto in Christopher Wheeldon's Liturgy


New York City Ballet
New York State Theater
Through Sunday

Paris Opera/Les Arts Florissants
Brooklyn Academy of Music
June 9 through 13

Baroque dance style captures the music's ornamental trills and quavers with delicately curling and flicking wrists, sudden little jumps, and soft sinkings and risings. Lock's thoroughly contemporary choreography—probably the weirdest thing about the production—takes off on this elaborateness, but the flourishes translate as neurotic twitches. When wearing black, the 11 excellent dancers flick their shoulders, beat their feet together in the air or while they're lying on the floor, and gesture constantly like demented cats taking a bath. The women wear pointe shoes, and the men spin them like tops. Their rigidity mirrors that of the society as a whole in its most private and obsessive aspects. When they're wearing white, they dance the same steps slightly more voluptuously, but unlike the rest of the cast, they never take their shoes off. The ravishing music doesn't fully free them.

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