New York, City Center studios.
Rehearsal day 5. It's remarkable, but Vasiliev's entire 10 minute solo, renamed The Labyrinth of Solitude, has been set by mid-day Saturday, the 4th day of rehearsal. De Bana's response to music is organic. He listens to a few phrases and then dances through them alone. Ivan stands off to the side, watching intently. If the choreographer is satisfied (indicated by a quiet, “Yes, that's it” to himself), he proceeds to teach the steps to the dancer whose sponge-like ability to absorb and internalize every gesture is uncanny.
The next two rehearsals are spent on smoothing out transitions between sections of choreography and on details of timing and musicality. Everyone is tired, but the mood in the room is easy and jovial. Now and then, de Bana urges his dancer to soften his natural attack, at other times he asks for stronger arms - “I know they are falling off by now, but it's like you've really hit a wall here, make them really shake, make them powerful!” Up until the last moments of rehearsal nuances are layered over an existing structure of steps. As Vasiliev does the final run-through, complete with a vaulting manege of split jetes, the room is stunned. It's a breathtaking performance.