In this austere environment, the dancers begin simply, the way Reich’s masterful score does, its single beats impelling them to walk gradually forward. As the music begins to phase into more and more complexity, I note that Kylián announces each change of rhythm with corresponding hard-edged gestures; once he has established a new one, he doesn’t continue to mickey-mouse it, but expands the steps sparingly within its framework. The women are like strong, virtuoso typists—margins plotted, keys oiled. As they shift into a profiled formation, the choreography begins to allow now this one, now that one, to deviate briefly from the ongoing pattern.

The choreography makes repetition the business of the day, as does the music, but Kylián doesn’t attempt to achieve Reich’s increasingly dense layering of his original motif. The moments of diversity are as clearly etched as the strict unison, and the unison itself undergoes large changes. At one point, all except the temporary soloist are lying on the floor, moving their legs in synchrony. Perhaps it’s because of the amount of repetition that we see each of the women quite clearly—admiring this one’s fervent attack, that one’s softer approach.

The New York City Ballet in Peter Martins’s "Mirage"
Paul Kolnik
The New York City Ballet in Peter Martins’s "Mirage"
The State Ballet of Georgia, Nina Ananiashvili in the foreground, in Alexei Ratmansky’s "Bizet Variations"
Kristi Pitsch
The State Ballet of Georgia, Nina Ananiashvili in the foreground, in Alexei Ratmansky’s "Bizet Variations"

Details

New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
April 27 through June 27

Nina Ananiashvili and the State Ballet of Georgia
Jacobís Pillow, Becket, Massachusetts
June 23 through 27

This program that Ananiashvili has designed is unusually adventurous for a small ballet company and more than unusually tasteful. No pandering to the audience with flashiness, cuteness, or trendiness. Just strong works that challenge the dancers to emerge as sentient individuals.

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