Choreographer Justin Peck once said he was saving his best ideas for the New York City Ballet.
Judging by Wednesday night’s Saratoga Performing Arts Center premiere of his “Everywhere We Go,” he certainly has. And it’s paid off, too; Wednesday afternoon, Peck was named City Ballet’s resident choreographer.
The honor could not be bestowed on a more talented young artist (only 26) who will hopefully produce more imaginative gems like “Everywhere We Go.” A bold work, the ballet brimmed with action and surprising nuggets that kept audience’s eyes glued to the stage.
This is Peck’s second successful piece with composer Sufjan Stevens. The music, commissioned by City Ballet, was made up of nine movements of enormous, pulsing rhythms. Peck dove into its cyclonic sounds, sending 25 dancers soaring.
Behind a backdrop of shifting geometric patterns, Peck began “Everywhere We Go” with an army of men who stood still with their feet apart, firm in their resolve. When the crew, led by Robert Fairchild and Amar Ramasar, started to move, their limbs yanked and convulsed forcefully. When a group of women appeared, the tone departed from combative to one of cavorting and camaraderie.
There was so much to see in the energetic “Everywhere We Go.” The patterns the dancers formed, in lines both vertical and horizontal (lying on their backs with their feet shooting in the air) were striking. At times they were strong and upright, but at others the dancers melted to the floor.
Better still, the ensemble looked to be having a ball. Standouts included Maria Kowroski, who appeared to float in the arms of Fairchild, and Tiler Peck and Ramasar, who teased each other in a cat-and-mouse game.
This is one of those works that will continually reveal itself, making it worth endless viewings.
The evening also featured Jerome Robbins’ “Glass Pieces,” with Wendy Whelan and Adrian Danchig-Waring in the central pas de deux. Unfortunately, Whelan looked a bit shaky, as if she was not fully recovered from recent surgery. But she exuded her unmistakable quality, an otherworldly concentration that drew viewers into her sphere.
The corp de ballet had some troubles. In the first two movements, they were terrific, but they were surprisingly sloppy in the typically powerful finale.
George Balanchine’s hip “Who Cares?” started off the night. The salute to Gershwin and his songs, wonderfully orchestrated by Hershy Kay, was a juicy, jazzy delight. Balanchine recreated the feel for the music’s era, placing his suite against a New York City skyline.
In the shadow of skyscrapers, a cast of 24 pranced and strode to such familiar songs as “’S Wonderful,” “Embraceable You” and “I Got Rhythm.” For each tune, the dancers came off as urbane and youthful, taking on the city with an air of confidence.
Ask La Cour was a cool suitor who whisked about Tiler Peck, Ashly Isaacs and Savannah Lowery. With each duet, Balanchine divulged their relationships — passionate with Peck, romantic with Isaacs and chummy with Lowery.