The second week of New York City Ballet’s Spring Season featured a bill of classics: Balanchine’s Divertimento no. 15, Allegro Brillante and The Four Temperaments, as well as Jerome Robbins’ exquisite miniature Afternoon of a Faun. Last night’s performance looked a bit under-rehearsed at times – several members of the company are currently out with Covid and there were some last-minute substitutions. However, there was not a single piece that was badly danced.

Joseph Gordon and Erica Pereira in Divertimento no. 15
© Paul Kolnik

The serene ensemble piece Divertimento no. 15 looked the most ragged: corps formations were not always uniform; Unity Phelan and Joseph Gordon ran into some partnering problems; and in the Andante, the numerous exits and entrances between the five female soloists and three male soloists was not as seamless as it could have been. It was still a lovely performance. Indiana Woodward was a standout in the Sixth Variation, her footwork was so fast and crisp. Emilie Gerrity in the Fourth Variation continues to have some of the most classical épaulement in the entire company. I’ve often thought of Divertimento no. 15 as Balanchine’s most pleasing ballet. Not the greatest, but the harmony of the steps is enchanting.

Sterling Hyltin in Afternoon of a Faun
© Paul Kolnik

The middle part of the program was maybe the strongest. Sterling Hyltin and Adrian Danchig-Waring were exquisitely self-absorbed in Afternoon of a Faun – I didn’t know ballet exercises could seem so narcissistic until Danchig-Waring started stretching by the mirror! Hyltin has always been able to seem ephemeral; her best roles include La Sylphide and La sonnambula. She cast a spell as the ballerina in Faun.

Tiler Peck and Roman Mejia tore up Allegro Brillante, a ballet that plays to their speed, daring and musicality. There is simply no one that can match Peck’s lightning fast pirouettes in the cadenza. Mejia and Peck were well-matched as a couple. Both are whiz-bang allegro technicians. The audience loved it.

Tiler Peck and Roman Mejia in Allegro Brillante
© Erin Baiano

The Four Temperaments finished the evening. It’s an odd ballet to choose as a closer – upbeat ballets like Symphony in C or Western Symphony usually close programs. The best section by far was Sebastian Villarini-Velez as Melancholic. He is blessed with a flexible torso and did all those tricky contortions and falls beautifully. Ashley Hod and Peter Walker were also extremely strong in the Sanguinic duet, Walker carrying Hod in that manège of traveling lifts without any strain. Emily Kikta looks like a Choleric with her height and long legs, but didn’t always have the requisite speed or aggressiveness.

The Four Temperaments
© Paul Kolnik

The evening ended on a jarring note. During curtain calls for The Four Temperaments, a loud series of boos greeted Amar Ramasar (an excellent Phlegmatic). Ramasar looked visibly shaken. In subsequent curtain calls, Villarini-Velez had his arm around Ramasar and the audience drowned out the booer with cheers. Ramasar is retiring this spring, and one hopes his farewell will not have any such interruptions.