Review: At City Ballet, Tiler Peck Lets the Music Show the Way

Indiana Woodward, in a marvelous debut with the poised, pristine Anthony Huxley, shows the ease of her technical finesse in turning sequences and her imaginative, lucid acting. She is an untapped treasure; it’s a relief that Ratmansky sees her worth.

When in the end Unity Phelan and Adrian Danchig-Waring appear like a couple from a music box, descending to the floor and moving through supported poses with quiet, almost silent yearning, the others stand in rows, executing pliés, tendus — the work of daily class. It brings a rare sense of peace to the lives of these citizens. More than ever this ballet, rich with emotions and eccentricities, is a living, breathing jewel.

Before this “New Combinations” program, however, City Ballet’s winter season has been on the listless side, especially after its spectacular fall season celebrating George Balanchine, the company’s founding choreographer. Even the Jerome Robbins ballets, including the sentimental, horribly costumed “In the Night” (1970), have dragged on, doing the choreographer few favors.

And why is the company still presenting the subpar works of Peter Martins, its former director? His “Barber Violin Concerto” (1988) — on a program with Christopher Wheeldon’s “Polyphonia” (2001) and Justin Peck’s valiant “The Times Are Racing” (2017) — has a classical couple and a modern couple change partners at a certain point, paving the way for a sophomoric comparison of ballet and modern dance. Of course, the barefooted modern woman is flung around frantically, even brutally. She’s modern, so she’s wild? It’s embarrassing.

The austere elegance of “Polyphonia” remains intact, and “The Times Are Racing” was further elevated by engaging casts. No one is better than Tiler Peck (no relation to Justin) as the female lead; she originated the part, which harnesses her effortless syncopation. But another cast featured a guest artist in her role: Ashton Edwards of Pacific Northwest Ballet. Both performed opposite an impassioned Taylor Stanley.

Edwards, a nonbinary dancer who performs traditionally female roles at Pacific Northwest Ballet, wore the same costume as Peck to striking effect. But Edwards’s joyful, robust and risky dancing, their shining eyes — so apparent when gazing into Stanley’s in a half-crouched moment on the floor — brought another, more emboldened energy to the ballet. This wasn’t a casting gimmick. It was moving, as well as a reminder of what the ballet stands for. Fighting for a cause. Staying true to yourself. And, as always, dancing your heart out.

New York City Ballet

Though March 3 at the David H. Koch Theater,

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