The dancing began with women running and diving onto the shoulders of their male partners, folding double in a split second, and being rushed off upside down. This tricky lift recurred from time to time, and it ended the ballet. In recent work, Wheeldon seems to have been preoccupied with inventing ways for women to be hoisted and tied in attractive knots by their partners, but Thirteen Diversions doesn't dwell on these maneuvers. Instead, it behaves like a plotless classical ballet that's been jarred loose from the traditional symmetries and line-ups.
Like Ratmansky, Wheeldon often poses two different choreographic motifs against each other, but instead of looking like two sets of people going about their business, Wheeldon's dualities look like arranged counterpoint. He explores the compositional relationships of small groups, like the two bouncy women in a conversation of mirroring and doubling movements followed by two men having a similar but more aggressive dialogue. There's an elegiac duet and a discordant one. Following the composer's musical indications for each of the 11 variations, Wheeldon ranges through a variety of moods and climates. He draws your attention to the possibilities offered by Britten, but variety and virtuosity are always woven into the bigger choreographic framework. It's the best ballet I've seen him do in years.
, Dance, Boston Ballet, Christopher Wheeldon, More