By hosting the Pacific Northwest Ballet, one of the country’s best small ballet troupes, the Joyce is finally rebounding after a recent stretch of tepid programming. Four dances, including a windy new work by Twyla Tharp and Benjamin Millepied’s intense “3 Movements” set to a score by Steve Reich, showcase Peter Boal’s — a 22-year veteran of New York City Ballet — transformation of the Seattle-based troupe, which he took over in 2005.
The audience’s favorite on opening night was Edwaard Liang’s “Fur Alina,” which was given a delicate, precise performance by Carla Korbes and Karel Cruz (she’s a Brazilian trained at New York’s School of American Ballet; he’s a Cuban seasoned in South America). Despite a few annoying blackouts, the episodic piece, which is set to plaintive piano music by Arvo Part, brims with emotion.
There’s buzz surrounding Tharp’s “Opus III,” named after an 1890 Brahms string quintet. But since PNB’s home stage is bigger than the one at the Joyce, the dozen dancers seemed nervous and off-balance at the first performance here. Tharp’s choreography has the women rolling on the floor with big grins on their faces (probably not much fun on a cold night), and Mark Zappone’s fussy costumes interfere with Tharp’s vivid steps and shapes.
But the city’s dance royalty greeted Millepied’s crowded, crowd-pleasing closer with whoops of delight. Korbes and the dignified Mongolian dancer Batkhurel Bold pace the ensemble in a ballet redolent of Jerome Robbins, a mentor to Millepied.
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Through Jan. 10
Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave.
$10-$59, 212-242-0800 www.joyce.org