New York City Ballet's all-Balanchine program was a welcome reminder that we live in another golden age at City Ballet. The breadth of talent is so overwhelming that I was often hard-pressed during this performance to decide where to focus my attention. This show opened with Tiler Peck fronting Allegro Brillante with what has become, for her, routine brilliance. Over the last few seasons, she has become one of the company’s strongest dancers. She moved with perfect ease, lightning speed, and always with musical sensitivity. Her chaîné turns were thrilling to the point that I was holding my breath. When did I last see speed like this? She slashed through the cadenza, one of Balanchine’s great creations, lingering over her balances with astonishing freedom. Amar Ramasar partnered her well but as finely as he danced himself, he couldn’t hope to match Peck’s rare combination of technical authority and personal charm. You could not want more from this ballet.

Tiler Peck and Amar Ramasar, <i>Allegro Brillante</i> © Paul Kolnik
Tiler Peck and Amar Ramasar, Allegro Brillante
© Paul Kolnik

The Four Temperaments raised the ante by giving us even more great dancing. In the opening Theme, Emilie Gerrity and Aaron Sanz effectively expressed the lyric portion of this great ballet’s introduction. Gonzalo Garcia stepped in for Anthony Huxley in Melancholic and was affecting with Meagan Mann and Unity Phelan. Ashly Isaacs and Tyler Angle threw down in Sanguinic. Ask la Cour was good in Phlegmatic, better than I’ve seen from him recently, but I longed for Adrian Danchig-Waring who is one of the best to ever dance this part. Meagan LeCrone, a dancer I frequently have a hard time warming up to, was very good in Choleric. It’s a role that suits her precise technique and cool personality perfectly and she excelled. The finale, which gathers the whole cast onstage, was rollicking. It ascended to the climax with Isaacs and Angle leading the way. They are an exciting pair.

I was already sated and then the curtain came up on the opening tableau of Symphony in C. The women of New York City Ballet, adorned in Marc Happel’s Swarovski-enhanced costumes, glittered with stellar brilliance that drew an involuntary expression of delight from the audience. The men are incidental in this ballet and are even costumed in black which makes them less visible. The vision was emblematic of the ideal world referred to by classical ballet. The performance exceeded even that expectation. Ashley Bouder, taking command of the First Movement, executed her échappés into second position and then languidly rolled down into a soft plié that commanded respect.

Sara Mearns in <i>Symphony in C</i>
Sara Mearns in Symphony in C
This was a real power display. The tips of her toes have more strength than any ten dancers. She was backed by the terrific duo of Unity Phelan and Claire Kretzschmer which made the First Movement fly with energy. Sara Mearns followed in the Second Movement and gave a clinic on adagio dancing. One of the many things that’s great about Mearns is the meticulous care she gives to filling out the musical line, all the way to the tips of her fingers. In this adagio, she gave every phrase its maximum expression and was the very best in show on this night full of extreme talent. Her trademark Hollywood glamour was turned all the way up. The Fourth Movement was merely very well danced by Lauren King, yet another of the company’s abundantly gifted soloists.

The Third Movement was given to corps member Alston Macgill who has been performing the role since she was an apprentice. I cannot sufficiently repeat that Peter Martins’ legacy will be measured by the number of outstanding dancers he has nurtured during his tenure. Macgill is yet another in a long list of outstanding young dancers that swell the company’s ranks. The tiny dynamo was irresistibly radiant, even when surrounded by Bouder, Mearns and King. Joseph Gordon made a perfect partner for her. Observing the corps during Symphony in C, I noted the presence of at least a half dozen women who could have stepped forward and taken on any of the lead roles. Do you envy Martins, wallowing in the luxury of too much talent, or do you sympathize that he’s got to say no to someone who’s obviously deserving of a shot at a lead role?

New York City Ballet in <i>Symphony in C</i> © Paul Kolnik
New York City Ballet in Symphony in C
© Paul Kolnik

So, it’s golden times at New York City Ballet and you can’t miss on any given program. Even the third cast of every ballet is top quality. Go often and enjoy the bounty while it lasts. This was an outstanding performance on all levels that was enough to renew my faith in the future of classical ballet. The weakest leads were merely very good and all the rest were outstanding. Try to have sympathy for Peter Martins as he struggles to keep all these ambitious dancers happy.