“City.ballet.” is back! And the Season 2 premiere is plenty tantalizing. They promised us more up-close input from dancers, and we’ve already got two very interesting characters to follow.
We meet two corps members, starting with 19-year-old Unity Phelan, who is beginning her first season with New York City Ballet. I really don’t think anyone could manage a more bright-eyed and eager demeanor. All she wants to do is dance—as much as she possibly can. When she faces a long day of classes and rehearsals, she doesn’t think about how grueling it’s going to be. “When pliés start, I’m like OK let’s do this. I am so excited for this day!” Right now, she is grateful for every moment, because she has achieved what she thought was her biggest dream: being in New York City Ballet. But that honeymoon can’t last forever.
Enter Harrison Ball, only two years older than Phelan but starting his third year in the corps. His worries already outweigh his enthusiasm. Is he being taken as seriously as he wants to be? He’d prefer soloist parts to the character roles he’s gotten so far. Does he really present himself in the best light? He battles typical 21-year-old habits like constantly running late and going out most nights, while at the same time trying to be a dedicated professional. All he can think about is when and if he’ll be promoted.
The most telling moment in the episode is when both dancers describe how they spend their evenings when they aren’t performing. Phelan sits in the audience. “I go and watch the ballet, because even being there is special.” Ball paces outside on the Lincoln Center Promenade, pondering his career path.
The premiere is the tiniest bit redundant in that, once again, it focuses on the corps de ballet, which we were already introduced to last season. But Sarah Jessica Parker’s narration is noticeably absent—minus an opening line—which helps it feel less like a Ballet 101 lecture and more like a docu-drama.
This episode also features Ball's cat, who doesn't seem worried about much of anything.