For the Couples in This Alexei Ratmansky Ballet, Love Is Not Enough

Will repeated viewings deepen the experience? (It’s repeated on Saturday and Sunday.) I had no problems adjusting to the world that Mr. Ratmansky creates here, but the charms of its Desyatnikov score and Dekker attire are finite. “Odessa,” though arresting and varied, feels like minor fiction. Each of the three central relationships shows a different aspect of love, yet these six individuals have other emotions, too. Love isn’t quite enough, especially for the women.


Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar with other members of New York City Ballet in the world premiere of “Odessa,” at the David H. Koch Theater.

Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

The most poignant pair are Sterling Hyltin and Joaquin De Luz, who begin by not beginning. He ardently offers her his hands, but she’s reluctant, maybe too brokenhearted, to accept. Ms. Hyltin beautifully combines fragility with purposefulness. Her powerful vacillations of feeling — her uncertainty about their relationship (when she slaps him at one moment, you see it from her point of view) — do much to shape the ballet.

Mr. De Luz, always elegant, here plays, subtly but ardently, the insistent devotion of a man no longer young. My sole disappointment while watching comes with how Ms. Hyltin ends a passage by finally, but suddenly, cozying up to him. She takes his arm and tips her head toward his shoulder. (“Yes, you’re my guy, after all.”) Following such doubt and anguish, it’s too docile a resolution.

The corps de ballet — six women, six men — have their own exuberant ensembles; they also amplify the sections for the leads. Not only do the men lift Ms. Hyltin in marvelous parabolas at crucial moments during her scenes with Mr. de Luz, but they lift him, too; these choral moments help us to feel the characters’ larger souls.


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