But San Francisco is moving away from Balanchine - only two pieces are programmed for next year, a reprise of Scotch Symphony and Symphony in Three Movements - and in the direction of Neumeier and Lifar - sort of bas relief, high drama works. So the continuation of a living Balanchine repertoire would seem to depend on City Ballet and Miami.
I think the reason it's true of SFB is that they take so many of the corps from the school, not SAB, and so many of their Principal Dancers were trained in Europe or Russia. The companies that take a bunch of their corps from SAB and/or who have trained with Balanchine disciples are performing small segments of the Balanchine rep and keeping it alive in both exposure and style. That's certainly true of PNB.
About Lopez, through much of her career as I saw it (until 1994), she was a limby dancer, but in the last few years I saw her, she found her center and became a much stronger dancer.
That review of Croce's wasn't the only one or her final word, although I think she was right in wanting the famous Balanchine "More!" from her. In her 10 June 1985 review of the newly revived "Firebird" for Merrill Ashley, Croce wrote:
If you are lucky, you see Lourdes Lopez as the Firebird and Helene Alexopoulos as the Princess-two handsome brunettes of the Chagallian sensuousness...
Lopez, the ballerina who fits it best, was given one performance, impressive in every way but somewhat too cautious.
I didn't that performance with Lopez and Alexopoulos, but one in the week before the "Nutcracker" later that year, back when they did a week of rep to start the Winter Season, and then again the following June with Diana White as the Princess.
Lopez was my favorite of the three -- Ashley, who I thought was rather harsh, and Kozlova, who I thought was too glamorous, along with Lopez -- although she danced it least often. I've written before that I thought Lopez was wonderful in Tallchief roles, like Firebird and Sugar Plum Fairy, and she danced with stature and clarity in "Theme and Variations", in which I saw her as part of the full ballet, "Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3" with Ib Andersen and in the Pas de Deux with Peter Frame for the 1988 Dancers' Emergency Fund benefit.
I think she worked very hard to become a better dancer, and that this will help her in her new role.