One doesn't expect the New York City Ballet to open its season with a program consisting of some of the most atypical (and not particularly recent) works in its repertory, much less repeat the program three times running. But although the dances, and most of the dancers, at last night's performance at the Kennedy Center Opera House remained unchanged, the company seemed both more relaxed and more energetic than it had at its rather lackluster opening the previous evening.
Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins made their first appearance of the season in Robbins' "Afternoon of a Faun." Martins stretched and preened with appropriately narcissistic concentration, interested in Farrell (who danced with the almost-innocent air of an angel about to fall) only as a body to manipulate in front of his mirror. At the matinee, Heather Watts and Ib Andersen (unknown to the half of the house who didn't receive the information in program stuffers) were substituting for Patricia McBride and Helgi Tomasson and repeated their opening night performance. While Andersen seemed to perform some movements as quotes from the Nijinsky ballet of the same name, Martins looked as though he was practicing some particularly kinky Balanchine poses.
Darci Kistler repeated her remarkable Odette in Balanchine's "Swan Lake," growing in confidence, projection and technique from performance to performance. By last evening, her finishes were more secure, her phrasing less rushed, as she danced with the assurance of a ballerina.