At New York City Ballet, Hits, Misses and Daring Dancers

At New York City Ballet, Hits, Misses and Daring Dancers

Of its two new couples — Erica Pereira and Joseph Gordon on Tuesday; Tiler Peck and Anthony Huxley on Saturday night — all were debuts except for Ms. Peck. While the tiny Ms. Pereira showed moments of breadth, she couldn’t sustain them; as the ballet progressed her skimming steps were more clipped than seamless.

But Mr. Gordon’s dancing was an unselfconscious delight, and in his solo, he was like a bird released from a cage. Mr. Huxley and Ms. Peck, more like brother and sister than lovers, were measured and clean; despite their understated sense of poetry, they never gelled as a couple in such a subtle, fragile ballet.

“Agon” had its problems, too. Its central pas de deux, created for Arthur Mitchell and Diana Adams, was intended for a black man and a white woman. In 1957 that was a statement, and, at least in the ballet world, it still is. Skin color is as much a part of “Agon” as its Stravinsky score. (And that could be expanded on: What would the pas de deux look like if a black woman danced it with a white man?) This time around, there were no dancers of color in either cast; Maria Kowroski performed opposite Adrian Danchig-Waring in one, and Teresa Reichlen with Mr. Finlay, in his debut, in the other.

But that wasn’t the only reason the pas de deux was a shell of its actual self on Saturday night. Mr. Finlay moved stiffly and shakily from position to position with no sense of fortitude. Where was the tension between him and Ms. Reichlen? All that was left was the precariousness of their partnering, which was heart-stopping for all the wrong reasons.

The winter season left behind good memories too: Indiana Woodward’s heavenly debut as Juliet; Ms. Peck’s ravishing “Fall” in Jerome Robbins’s “The Four Seasons”; Peter Walker’s gangly-great dancing in “Agon”; the steady, rising star that is Ms. Phelan.

That list is far from complete. But what stuck out the most was the newfound brilliance of Adrian Danchig-Waring. There’s a patience in the way he holds his body that seems to stretch time. He’s so clear, so refined yet not quite of this world. Something has broken free in him, and it feels like a whiff of the spring to come.

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