Justin Peck is one of the most interesting choreographic talents in the current dance world. About eight years ago, he began making dances for New York City Ballet -a company for which he’s also a soloist. Peck gained notoriety thanks to the Year of the rabbit, an outstanding production with music by indie auteur Sufjan Stevens. After winning praise for his emphasis on technique while addressing subtlety and delicacy, Peck’s dances are now being staged in several dance companies around the world. His most recent production, entitled The most incredible thing, was inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale that consists of a contest, put up by a King, that is won by a young man who invents a clock that create lifelike figures. The award: the princess’ hand in marriage. The music for the production has been written by Bryce Dessner, better known as the guitarist of The National, but who has also made a name of himself by composing music for orchestra, ensembles and choirs. More recent and notably, Dessner wrote the music along with Ryuichi Sakamoto for The Revenant, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s last film. The most incredible thing also features sets and costumes designed by Marcel Dzama, a Canadian artist who is famous for his dark humored illustrations and dioramas. It’s been reported that this ballet was made within a closely collaborative environment. The trio of artists worked really hard throughout 18 months, meeting regularly over Skype, exchanging ideas by email, and even having dinners to discuss aspects of the story and other more technical considerations.
This is the first narrative ballet Peck has ever undertaken. Even when his previous -and shorter- pieces has been generally celebrated, he’s facing the daunting challenge of creating a compelling production that tells a story over a long stretch of time. (It’s been said that the work lasts about 45 minutes.)
Narrative ballets are favored by dance audiences. The great thing about this New York City Ballet’s commission is that it’s very eloquent of the undisputable offer of talent and the obvious demand that exists for productions like these. The most incredible thing is a great testament of the power of young talents coming together to craft an exceptional work of art. The production’s most positive reviews so far have remarked the seamless integration of its elements. Peck, Dzama and Dessner has joined efforts to revitalize ballet in a magnificent way. Let’s just hope this becomes the new rule in ballet for making pieces that dazzle our senses.