I’ve seen Plot Points a number of times, I adore it. What’s not to like? A plot, mystery, performance almost cinematographic. Terrific dance. Drama. Melodrama. (More on this later.) But the PNB premiere of Robyn Mineko Williams’ gorgeous Before I Was proved to be breathtaking. Dancers Leah Terada and Christopher D’Ariano soar in this whimsical piece, their smooth moves forming one continuous thread. The dancers turn in and in on themselves, their movement making a small space seem huge—and playful. Open, stretch, twist, lift—the dancers pull on each other like taffy. Little selves, big selves, with dizzying ronde de jambes. Later each dancer becomes a separate play structure, with protractor-like legs that trace shapes against sweeping Billy Eilish-like vocals—the original music of Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham.
Justin Peck’s The Times Are Racing asks dancers to create unique personalities in their movements. D’Ariano gyrates, Kyle Davis is a spinning top. James Moore and Leta Biasucci, Angelica Generosa, and Melisa Guilliams cover space in an intense, avant guard Agon. Moves are wildly different: pedestrian and frenetic, smooth contemporary, stylized tap. The dancers make the work look light and easy, belying the amount of control needed by the rollicking ensemble—also seen in the pas de deux with Elizabeth Murphy and Lucien Postlewaite. Delicate but strong, Murphy swoops into the phrasing, penchéing into surprising shapes, with Postlewaite joining her in lovely twists to the floor. The ballet features the percussive, theatrical music of Dan Deacon in this stunning PNB premiere.
In Crystal Pite’s Plot Points, there’s a lot to distract—and please—the viewer here. Scene titles are displayed quickly: Inciting Incident, The Choice, Rising Action, The Climax, Resolution, opening then with dancers in street clothes and party dresses at a dinner party, leaving the audience asking questions. Lucien Postlewaite, moves as if he’s pressing the movement, the compelling Man in the suit caught in a pas de deux with a masked dancer. With evocative scenic and lighting design and the etchy, dramatic music of Bernard Herrmann, both sweet and shocking moments of this striking ballet are unforgettable.
Caught was not part of the digital performance.