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Ballet BC Review: A Master Outshines His Disciples

Category: Art & Culture,Dance

In the first moments, the dancers, one by one, walked to the front of a foggy stage and stared out at the audience before raising a right arm straight into the air. Instead of evoking defiance, it looked innocuous; and that wasn’t the last time we saw the gesture. Twisting, rolling and falling backward, the cast eventually took turns racing across the stage into a slide — “Risky Business” on a loop.

Ms. Pite’s “Solo Echo” (2012), set to Brahms, was inspired by a Mark Strand poem, “Lines for Winter.” There is falling snow as dancers, grim and self-serious, tangle up and separate as if moving through a force field. Like “To this day,” it has the air of an expensive student production — especially in contrast to Mr. Forsythe’s “Enemy in the Figure.”

In “Enemy,” moving lights, a rippling rope and a wavy barrier cutting through the center of the stage work together to hide and reveal dancers lurking in painterly shadows and slivers of darkness while they fling a leg or a shoulder against an exposed wall, jog in a corner or pair up to mimic a skater’s gliding stroke.

The way Mr. Forsythe commands the architecture of the space is full of surprises, and the dancers — with a sleek, disjointed kind of grace — curl in and out of pockets of the stage as if spinning through riptides. Thom Willems’s ominous, pulsating score ties the urgent scene together: How is it that in the end all of its pieces, seemingly fragmented, fit together like a puzzle?

The mystery in Mr. Forsythe’s dance reveals his mastery at imparting emotion — dark, insistent, playful — through finely detailed movement; with that comes the sense that the dancers are living their own worlds within his bigger canvas. On this program, “Enemy” felt more like a good friend.

Ballet BC

Through Saturday at the Howard Gilman Opera House at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; 718-636-4100, bam.org.

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