Dark Invader

Robbins's restrained foray into Chassidic lore

Bernstein's score suffuses Dybbuk with color and drama, and his music often meshes intimately with Robbins's choreography. The maidens' finger-snapping, for instance, is part of the score's rhythmic pattern. When the man who performs the fourth variation in the "Invocation of the Kabbalah" knocks the back of his hand against the air several times, a tambourine emphasizes the gesture. The occasional intertwined voices of a baritone and bass baritone (Christopher Schaldenbrand and Philip Horst) potently evoke Chassidic ceremony.

Robbins obviously intended ritual to shape the ballet. His protagonists are the only expressive figures in a society that never reveals its feelings. It's impossible not to identify with their obsessions and torments—marvelously conveyed by Millepied and Ringer—and wish to understand them more fully. Still, if you embrace the dark residue of plot and the sense of the occult that Robbins and Bernstein convey so uncannily well, this fragmentary tale of fatal love can hold you in its grip.

Dybbuk will be performed February 7 and 10, during NYCB's spring season, and at Saratoga this summer.

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