For Clara is principal dancer Lauren Lovette’s first work of choreography for New York City Ballet and as such it wasn’t bad. The best choice she made was using Indiana Woodward as one of her leads because her dancing was among the best of the night. Woodward, who moves with spirited freedom, is among the large crop of abundantly talented younger dancers that make this company so exciting. For Clara was a bit messy and occasionally frenzied as it seemed Lovette was choreographing too many things on the music. I had the sense that she was trying to let us know that she’s on top of what’s happening with the music. Sometimes, however, less is more and she will hopefully learn restraint with experience. It was clear that Lovette had given a great deal of thought to her work and she has plenty of good ideas to work with for future pieces.

Indiana  Woodward in Lauren Lovette's <i>For Clara</i> © Paul Kolnik
Indiana Woodward in Lauren Lovette's For Clara
© Paul Kolnik

By contrast, Justin Peck’s The Dreamers was a lovely duet for Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar and it showed that experience matters in developing a choreographer. Peck continues to build on his growing mastery of the pas de deux with small gestures that say more than busy feet could ever hope to match. Ramasar and Mearns gave poetic consideration to each taking of hands, each long, slow relevé, and shaped Peck’s long phrases into eloquent statements. Choosing these two to choreograph on is a no brainer and Peck used them well. They look good together just standing there. In motion they are any choreographer’s dream.

Corps de ballet member Peter Walker set his Ten in seven to the music of Thomas Kikta who is the father of another corps dancer, Emily Kikta. The breezy pop-jazz music was played live on stage and it was enjoyable though not memorable. This was also Walker’s first piece for the company and he didn’t overdo it with tricky steps which is to his credit. The dance patterns were on the formulaic side rather than reflecting the free jazz spirit of the music. Walker also made use of Indiana Woodward in his ballet and she was again a highlight. Her bright presence can leaven even the flattest of ballets. The highlight of the piece turned out to be Spartak Hoxha’s bravura romp in Rapide Furieux which had him digging into his bag of tricks with abandon.

NYCB in Peter Walker's <i>Ten in Seven</i> © Paul Kolnik
NYCB in Peter Walker's Ten in Seven
© Paul Kolnik

Justin Peck’s Everywhere We Go from 2014 closed out the show and proved that too much of a good thing is too much. In contrast to The Dreamers, Peck threw everything he knew at the wall for this piece and it was overwhelming. I’d settle for a good ten minutes to be cut so that I could be merely whelmed. Where Sufjan Stevens’ music is broad and sweeping, Peck’s choreography is at its best. He captures the feeling with fast-flowing steps and you feel carried away with it. The problem is that the broad, sweeping parts go on for extended periods and it becomes like a relentless climax that won’t end. Later, when one of the dancers begins to sway and apparently faint, another dancer rushes to the rescue, catches her, and gently lets her down to the floor. Then another one does it… and another… and you realize that you’re going to have to endure the whole company sagging to the floor, one at a time. Then Peck does it again in a later movement. That’s too much of a good thing. To be sure, there were high points, like the fun, athletic duet with Amar Ramasar and Tiler Peck. Teresa Reichlen showed off her never-ending legs and she was extraordinary. There were lots of engaging patterns and abundant energy. But it needs to be cut.

Note: As the author had previously seen and written about Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Unframed in rehearsal, the ballet is not reviewed here in accordance with New York City Ballet policy.