In the second installment of executive producer Sarah Jessica Parker’s docu-series on New York City Ballet—“city.ballet”—we meet several company apprentices, who have all spent the last several years at the School of American Ballet. (SAB is a breeding ground for NYCB dancers; students often feed directly into the company.) In keeping with the first episode of “city.ballet,” there is little drama here; everyone speaks frankly but without complaining. These episodes are short—about six minutes apiece—but not without some insightful and exciting moments. Here are my favorites:
• Hearing Peter Martins talk about what he wants in an apprentice (“Hunger!”) he hopes to promote to the corps de ballet. It’s pretty crazy to think that these apprentices have one year to prove themselves worthy of being in the corps, especially after having spent several years at SAB before becoming an apprentice. Martins refers to the last year of an SAB student’s dance life as “pampered,” compared to what’s ahead.
• The across-the-floor shots from company class. Not only do you get to see what NYCB dancers wear to the studio (I cheesily love seeing pretty leotards and unusual warm-ups), but you get to watch the dancers experience the same frustration and mental turmoil we all experience as dancers when we don’t complete a pirouette beautifully or when we fall off balance.
• Learning that apprentice Claire Von Eck lives with her sister—an SAB student—in the city. I, too, live with my sister, and we’re both dancers. I totally identified with Claire’s wish to take her sister under her wing.
• The episode ends on a cliffhanger: We’re waiting to find out if Silas Farley and Claire actually get contracts with the company, following their final performance as apprentices in the summer season at Saratoga Springs. After seeing the dance clips in this episode of the two of them, I can’t imagine either not becoming a part of the corps de ballet. But you never know!
Photo courtesy of city.ballet.