Namouna, a Grand Divertissement

The New York City Ballet on Sunday, September 19.

Ballets rarely use much plot. Ideally, if there’s a narrative at all, you want just enough to immerse the dance in emotion. Works that try to pack in convoluted twists and subplots dry out in a desert of pantomime.

Alexei Ratmansky’s “Namouna, a Grand Divertissement” is not one of those over-plotted ballets. To the contrary, it’s gleefully under-plotted, hinting at familiar ballet story elements (a lovestruck young man, virtuosic pirates, a sultry seductress, a demure mystery girl, a corps made up of identical, interchangeable women) but never bothering to knit them into a coherent story. “Namouna” is deliberately elusive, all intimation and no resonance, and as such, it’s charming but emotionally empty. Calling the work a “grand divertissement” is actually quite apt: for all its grandeur, it’s a trifle. That could be criticism, I suppose, but when the trifle is so delicious, why complain?