The 1971 ballet “Goldberg Variations,” by Jerome Robbins, has a reputation for being long, and, for that reason, one of the choreographer’s “difficult” ballets. Robbins used all thirty of the keyboard variations Bach developed on a simple, mournful theme. With the exception of three in G minor they are in a single key, G major. Almost perversely, Robbins kept all the repeats. The music is played at a more leisurely pace than in most keyboard recitals. And in the first half of the ballet, there are few large ensembles or showy steps. “Goldberg” is a ballet that asks us to look, listen, and then look some more; to slow our breathing, sit back, and stay a while.
From left: Daniel Applebaum, Emilie Gerrity, Ashley Laracey and Arrón Sanz in “Goldberg Variations” by Jerome Robbins. Photograph by Erin Baiano