Paul McCartney’s new ballet Ocean’s Kingdom with choreography by Peter Martins is the worst ballet I have seen in years and an all-time low for the New York City Ballet. Here we have—in 2011!—a throwback to an antiquated 19th century form: the romantic story ballet, complete with underwater sea maidens and a silly pantomime story that is impossible to follow, much less care about. Martins, who took over NYCB soon after George Balanchine’s death in 1983, has been working for several decades to unravel modernism and revive this old fairy-tale art.
The Bright StreamAmerican Ballet Theatre Anna Karenina; The Little Humpbacked HorseMariinsky Ballet, Metropolitan Opera House Incredibly, the hit of the New York dance season this spring was The Bright Stream, a restaging of a Soviet “tractor-ballet” from 1935, about a Caucasian collective farm complete with hammer, sickle, and happy farmers making merry in a sunlit workers’ paradise. The ballet comes to us directly from Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, where it was first restaged in 2003 with new choreography by the Russian choreographer Alexei Ratmansky.