Over the weekend I went to a performance of the New York City Ballet that featured three contemporary repertory pieces that all premiered within the past year. Two of the three featured really interesting collaborations between the choreographers and other artists from outside the ballet world. First was Two Hearts by Benjamin Millepied, former member of the company and current Mr. Natalie Portman. It featured simple and striking costumes designed by Rodarte. You can see them in motion here.
Next up was Year of the Rabbit, an ambitious piece choreographed by Justin Peck, an up-and-coming member of the Corps de Ballet. The ballet was set to orchestral arrangements of music by Sufjan Stevens and was broken into different segments that were meant to represent different signs of the Chinese Zodiac. To be honest, I didn't fully see that connection, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the piece for the dancing in and of itself. A snippet of it can be seen here, in a short video that seems more akin to a movie trailer than something to promote a ballet.
Going to performances of contemporary repertory can be a roll of the dice. I've seen a few that were way too experimental for my taste. Happily, neither of these pieces fell into that camp. Both seemed to be a well balanced combination of the contemporary and the classic in a way that seemed very much in line with the tradition of Balanchine's work. Two Hearts and Year of the Rabbit may now rank among some of my favorite ballets.
(In case you're curious, this is my all-time favorite ballet.)