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A Wanderer, Ravel and Suzanne Farrell: Life Is Good at City Ballet

With certain dancers, there is an interior drama, an intimate dialogue between movement and music that manages to quiet the air around them, pulling them into greater focus. Mira Nadon, the young New York City Ballet principal, is growing into that place of spellbinding luminosity.

We’ve seen her unflappable elegance, her cool sensuality and her creamy elasticity. But dancing in “Errante,” on the opening program of the company’s spring season that began Tuesday, she displayed a new kind of dancing courage. The ballet, originally known as “Tzigane” after its score by Maurice Ravel, was revived this season with a staging by Suzanne Farrell and a new name, “Errante,” or wandering.

Created for the company’s 1975 Ravel Festival, it was the first ballet George Balanchine choreographed for Farrell upon her return to City Ballet after a rift with Balanchine and time spent in Europe. In Farrell’s restoration, “Errante” is a passionate musical adventure — rich with play, mystery and seduction — that opens with a five-minute solo for its female lead.

As solos go, it’s headstrong and questing, revealing a dancer’s rebellious streak in the choreography’s defiant twists and turns. As for the title change? Tzigane, a word that refers to Romani people, is now considered derogatory. Farrell, who holds the rights to the work, selected “Errante”; the decision to rename was made by Farrell, the George Balanchine Trust and City Ballet, which hasn’t staged the ballet in more than 30 years.

Of the ballet and Farrell, Lincoln Kirstein, a founder of the company, wrote, “Was part of this an echo of her own wandering, of the fact that she had at last returned to her tribe’s encampment, while proclaiming her own increased identity and independence?”

It feels, especially now, like a stand for female autonomy. Starting with Nadon’s casual entrance — a detached, loose walk across the stage as her hands come to rest on the hips — the ballet has a smoldering perfume that heats up over time. Nadon’s sighing shoulders lead her on a path of self-discovery that she fills in with lustrous details. Her elbows rise above her chin like a veil. She flings her arms wildly yet with surgical precision. She arches backward with a rapid shudder of her shoulders.

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