In this episode, choreographer Alexei Ratmansky is creating a new piece (his fourth) for New York City Ballet. It’s evident from the way the dancers talk about Ratmansky that this is a very, very big deal. In fact, principal Sara Mearns—never one to mince words, which is why I like her—states outright that he’s the Balanchine of today. That’s a bold claim, but it seems to be shared by all of the City Ballet dancers: Principal Amar Ramasar (one of my favorites this season) refers to Ratmansky as “Mr. Invention.”
The second half of the episode is devoted to seeing the first performance of the ballet, which also serves as a reminder of how quickly things move at NYCB. And the dancers aren’t unaware—leading up to the premiere, those dancing in the ballet speak repeatedly of how uncertain they feel about pulling it off successfully. We get to see Ramasar in a challenging solo with fast footwork and contemporary flourishes, as well as Mearns crashing (purposely) to the floor a few times in her own solo. “I don’t know if I’ve ever fallen that many times, purposely, in a solo,” she says wryly.
But the best part of this episode comes at the very end, when Ramasar—clearly still intoxicated by that postperformance high we’ve all felt—lets loose an uncontrollable giggle: “Hopefully,” he laughs, “we can do this four more times.”