|Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks. Photo: Nir Arieli.|
From the outset of the evening, it's clear that Brooks has worked extensively with Whelan on neutralizing her innately lyrical line and comportment, which were honed and developed expansively over her 30 years with NYCB. At the start, the two walk slowly downstage. Of a similar height, wearing tank tops and pants, and with Whelan's hair pulled back tightly, they almost look like mirror images. The movement becomes bigger—deep second positions, pivots, tilting torsos, slashing arms. The phrases form a kind of serialism reminiscent of choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker or Lucinda Childs. In the next section, the pace quickens and the dancing is more darting and pond-skimming. Whelan has a solo that is sinuous, fluid, organic, lifting a pointed foot and snaking her body.
It's hard not to watch Whelan, whose luminous presence and clarity of line have always distinguished her onstage, but actually Brooks draws the eye equally. His everyman appearance and humble bearing don't demand our attention, but he has a lush muscularity and physical intelligence, and creates movement that complements these factors. The final section, which incorporates parts of his duet for Restless Creatures, feels as if it was made early in their working relationship, when reverence for her illustrious ballet career was at a high. She comes across as more fragile, a falling angel now in white (her body in a cruciform, no less) to catch softly on his back time and again. It's good to have seen in earlier sections that their partnership has brought her back down to earth and alongside a partner who is inspired by her, and vice versa, feet planted firmly on the ground.