I wonder if it’s been like this for New Yorkers: You see one Justin Peck ballet, set to an orchestra score written by a pop musician, and you’re half-charmed by the youthful exuberance, and appreciate the influence of Jerome Robbins, but keep a healthy reserve of skepticism because somehow the whole package seems to lack substance. But then you see a more classical Peck ballet—“In Creases,” say, set to Philip Glass’s score for two pianos—and the formal intelligence is undeniable, but the exuberance remains, and you think, OK, he’s not just a pop-culture re-packager. And then maybe you see his take on Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo” next, and there it is, the “mattering” you’ve been craving, in the way the tender partnering among the men feels boldly yet unfeignedly counter-cultural. And finally you see Peck’s latest premiere—pop music again—and the kids up on the stage are so damned beautiful and hopeful and hormone-powered, and the music is thrashing, surging, end-of-the-world-twenty-something-romance music, and all of your hesitations have been worn down, and you just—surrender to the seduction.
Dores André and Wei Wang in Peck's “Hurry Up, We're Dreaming.” Photograph by Erik Tomasson