A great performance has an air of inevitability as well as a feel of spontaneity.
It looks like an improvisation, as if invented on the spot.
NYCB carries off this impersonation of spontaniety so well that I often sit through a performance feeling as if it were created there and then just for me.
I am aware that this is a fond delusion on my part. Warren Carlyle plumbed the choreography of the Broadway work of Jerome Robbins to put together the spontaneous combustion that is Something to Dance About, for instance. The cast rehearsed this brilliant compilation, as it did Justin Peck’s tribute to Robbins, the deceptively-titled Easy.
Even pieces I have seen many times, like the great Four Seasons which Robbins set to Verdi grant me the perception of a sneak peak into a newly minted work. Roman Mejia, a young (and apparently much noticed) member of the corps, was a startling revelation to me as the Puckish faun in the fall section of this ballet.
The pas de deux often also looks like invented in the spur of the moment as the show-off pottion of the program. Each dancer jumps in –often literally– to the performance, and takes his or her turn impressing us.