Justin Peck’s first full-length NYCB effort The Most Incredible Thing features numerous divertissements, colorful costumes, and innovative sets, but falls substantially short in the story telling department.
The Hans Christian Andersen tale centers around a contest to do the most incredible thing with the winner to wed the King’s daughter (Sara Mearns on Wednesday). The Creator (Tyler Angle) presents his invention: a great hall clock with a spirit that produces figures that perform for the community. The Creator wins the hand of the princess. However, the Destroyer (Andrew Veyette) smashes the clock and wins the confidence of the people. who agree that he has the most incredible thing. In the end, the clock figures reappear and defeat the destroyer. The Creator and Princess wed, powered by the spirit of the clock. The work is set to a new score commissioned by NYCB by Bryce Dessner, visuals and dramatic costumes by Marcel Dzama with costume supervision by Marc Happel.
The big problem with the work is the lack of a narrative as it is difficult to follow and understand the story. Story development is stunted by the 12 divertissements representing the various hours of the day that take up most of the ballet. One O’Clock was The Cuckoo Bird Tiler Peck, whose talents were wasted with needless flailing, six o’clock was the Gambler Daniel Ulbricht with some nice footwork, and energetic dancing from 11 young SAB dancers. One can make sense of the plot after about 30 minutes of the 44 minute ballet when the Destroyer enters and takes out the clock. At that point, it is too little too late to save the work.
The story ballet before, Estancia by Christopher Wheldon (2010) stood in marked contrast. The fast-moving, whimsical work clearly tells the story of an Argentinian ranch love affair between a city boy and a country girl. The country girl was Argentina-native Ana Sophia Scheller and Adrain Danchig-Waring the City Boy. It was great fun with substantial drama from the leads.
The evening started with works first presented in the Fall Season: Myles Thatcher’s Polaris, Robert Binet’s The Blue of Distance, and Troy Schumacher’s Common Ground. Polaris, set to mysterious music, is the most intriguing, led by Emile Garrity and Chase Finlay. Schumacher’s work is interesting, but is marred by strange costumes with stings hanging down from the dancers.
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