City Ballet: Hallelujah Junction; A Place for Us; Interplay; and Glass Pieces

Just a quick note about the wonderful mixed repertory program I saw at City Ballet recently. The slate included pieces I had seen before, all worth a repeat viewing. 

The afternoon began with Peter Martins’s Hallelujah Junction, with its dueling piano, John Adams score. I’m always taken by the duality the piece presents, with the pianos not so much dueling as representing different moods. Sometimes they complement each other, sometimes they are at odds. And Martins’s choreography mirrors that. Leading the ensemble were principal dancers Sterling Hyltin (so beautiful to watch), Chase Finlay (who’s coming off an injury; he’s dancing well, but I still find I can take my eyes off of him) and Daniel Ulbricht (executing each move with precision and perfection). 

Next was one of my new favorites, Christopher Wheeldon’s A Place for Us, which uses complementary pieces by Andre Previn and Leonard Bernstein. Once again, newlyweds Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild thrilled. What I’ve always liked about the piece (an homage to Bernstein and Jerome Robbins) I liked once again, with Peck and Fairchild’s chemistry and love shining through. Of particular note is the fact that it marked the last time the couple will dance together for a little while: Fairchild is on leave from the Company while he stars in Wheeldon’s Broadway production of An American in Paris. (Fairchild is contracted for a year; fingers crossed the show runs at least that long!)

After intermission we were treated to Interplay, one of my favorite Jerome Robbins ballets, set to Morton Gould’s spirited score. I always enjoy the playfulness of the first, second and fourth movements, and I like that, just as in NY Export: Opus Jazz (the two are, arguably, companion pieces), corps de ballet members and soloists make up the cast, no principals, helping to keep the youthful spirit palpable. Joseph Gordon led “Free Play,” the first movement, and Harrison Ball was the ringleader during “Horseplay,” the second movement. Lauren Lovette and Taylor Stanley danced beautifully in “Byplay,” the sultry pas de deux that is the third movement. The pair have been dancing this section for a couple of seasons, and have come to truly own the movement. Interplay concludes with the flourish of “Team Play.” (Sara Adams, Kristen Segin, Sebastian Villarini-Velez and Indiana Woodward completed the cast.)

Bringing the afternoon to an exciting end was Robbins’s Glass Pieces (set, appropriately, to several Philip Glass pieces). This highly stylized ballet always keeps me on the edge of my seat. The first movement, “Rubric,” shows the beauty in chaos, making full use of the corps de ballet. The second movement, “Facades,” is slower, more languid. Principals Maria Kowroski and Adrian Danchig-Waring were lovely. But it’s always the final movement, “Akhnaten,” that stuns. Following the tribal, relentless rhythms, the dancers are constantly in motion, and, as an audience member, I can never help but to groove along. The propulsion of the score and choreography leave me breathless but enervated, ready to take on the day.