Nothing will make a rainy Tuesday sparkle like a night at Lincoln Center. The New York City Ballet is currently holding its Here/Now Festival, a massive series of 43 ballets over the course of four weeks. The festival is focused on new choreography and modern music, and I attended last night’s performance of four ballets choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon.
When going to a show in New York, always make a reservation. Everyone goes to the same restaurants near the theater, and you will be given a 30-60 minute wait, making you rush and lose the fun of the night out. I forgot to do this, so my friend and I tried a new place a few blocks down 9th Avenue, Masseria Dei Vini. It is a beautiful wine bar, with a large menu of pizza, pasta, and secondi, and most importantly, it didn’t have a wait. We then speed-walked through the wind and rain to Lincoln Center, with a little extra time to enjoy the theater before the ballet.
This sculpture, Circus Women, is carved from one piece of Carrera marble. The ceiling is covered in 18-karat gold leaf, and the beaded curtain that covers the glass windows at the front of the Theater consists of 8,000,000 gold colored metal balls — one for every citizen of New York City in 1964 when the Theater opened to the public.
Inside the theater, the balconies are lined with glowing diadems, and the giant round chandelier has more gleaming “gems,” bursting out of trumpet-shaped bells. The chandelier dims during performance, but never goes fully dark. The oblong shape of the house imitates a ballerina’s arms at First Position.
Here/Now is devoted to new choreography, so we got to see five short ballets over about two hours. The dancing effortlessly combined traditional ballet with angular, sexy, and sometimes awkwardly elegant moves. The music included a Shostakovich piano concerto, the eerie “Musica Ricercata” (used in the film “Eyes Wide Shut”) featuring a devastating duet onstage, and Gershwin’s famous “Rhapsody in Blue.”
Every time I go to the ballet, I’m awestruck at the lines of the dancers’ bodies. Every inch of their person is balanced, conscious, and deliberate; the arch of their spines, the lift of the sternum, the pointed bones in the feet, the gentle spread of their fingertips. It all seems so easy, without gravity or pain. Then you see a dancer land in a pose and stop moving, and you can see the faint lift of her shoulders as she breathes for what seems like the first time all evening. True skill and beauty exists where the impossible is made to look easy.