Then and There

The New York City Ballet on Tuesday, June 24.

The lyrics to “At the Ballet” from A Chorus Line (“Everything was beautiful at the ballet / Graceful men life lovely girls in white …”) make me think of works like Balanchine’s “Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet.” Sure, the costume colors tend more toward peaches than cream, but “Quartet” presents exactly the kind of unabashed, innocent sweetness that the song so wistfully celebrates. Charmingly pretty and traditional, it is all pirouettes and arabesques and pink tulle tutus.

It was fun to see that juxtaposed against “Prodigal Son,” a completely different Balanchine ballet in which the dancers tend to creep about with their feet wide apart and the prima ballerina, Siren, spends a great deal of time wrapping a long velvet train between her legs in a suggestive but distinctly unladylike manner. The contrast is striking—in the steps, in the dancers’ physical bearing, in the costume style—but both works are a joy to watch.