As the New York City Ballet season nears its close at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, it must be noted that the company has been dancing better than ever. Night after night for the past two weeks, the dancers have been flying across the stage as if their lives depended on it. And that just might be the case, considering their position at SPAC, as its resident ballet company, is threatened.
Regardless, on Friday night, the dancers once again proved why they are among the top in the world with the SPAC premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s “DVG: Danse a Grande Vitesse.” This is a mighty and majestic creation set to demanding music by Michael Nayman titled “MVG: Musique a Grande Vitesse.”
The piece, with a cast of 26, churns with tireless force.
Wheeldon dispatches four couples to shape his central focus. Teresa Reichlen and Robert Fairchild start off, with the first signs that this Wheeldon creation will be unique. Reichlen is a gazelle who looks wonderful with the attentive Fairchild as they coil about each other. He lifts her high above his head as she lays flat out.
That motif, against the backdrop of some intriguing, wavy scenery by Jean-Marc Puissant, is repeated by successive couples — the strong Ashley Bouder with Gonzalo Garcia, Wendy Whelan with Craig Hall and Ana Sophia Scheller with Amar Ramasar. Whelan and Hall are the breath in the dance that roars into a crashing, percussive finale. “DVG” is a kinetic rush.
The program opened with tradition — George Balanchine’s “Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet,” a ballet long on luxury and in length. This is a beautiful work, dressed in muted purples, pinks, greens and chocolates with a lot of ribbons cascading off romantic-length tutus and flowered headpieces. With a grand palace shimmering in the background, this ballet in four movements demonstrates Balanchine’s love of spectacle and ballet’s courtly manners.
The most appealing movements are Tiler Peck and Justin Peck’s intimate intermezzo and Maria Kowroski and Tyler Angle’s rambunctious gypsy finale. Though it’s all pretty and pleasant, “Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet” is not the best of Balanchine pageants.
The evening also featured the pairing of two works by Jerome Robbins, “Sinfonia” to piano and violin music by Stravinsky and “Moves,” his ballet danced in silence. “Sinfonia” can be viewed as a not-so subtle sequel to “Apollo.” The ballet references the Balanchine masterpiece unabashedly. And Chase Finlay, the consummate young god, plays the role with charming candor. His muses, Sterling Hyltin, Tiler Peck and Megan Fairchild, are all effectively animated as they romp freely with Finlay.
Arturo Delmoni on the violin and Cameron Grant on piano are well-matched, playing the Stravinsky piece with vigor.
“Moves” is an interesting work as it is danced in silence. Forming stony and emotionaless shapes, 10 dancers appear like creatures in the jungle or Broadway dancers enduring a casting call. Either way, “Moves” is a fascinating portrait of the internal rhythm that carries nature — human or otherwise — through this life.
But the ballet is known for its music. And this season, the orchestra sounds tremendous. Today is the last day to see and hear the spectacle.