Best of what I saw in this calendar year:
1. Mariinsky in Swan Lake w. Lopatkina at the Mariinsky. Extraordinary corps, extraordinary character dancing, fine soloists and one of greatest Odettes I have ever seen (possibly the greatest). Plus the thrill of being in that theater.
2. Cornejo as Aminta in Sylvia or more specifically his dancing in his Act III variation. Pure, light, airy and dazzling: extraordinary elevation, wonderful ballon, clear crisp beats, beautiful line--all easy and effortless. Fantastically beautiful dancing.
3. Sara Mearns in the Fairy's Kiss w. NY Philharmonic: imagination, daring, power. Wow!
4. Wonderful dancing from a whole new generation of NYCB ballerinas in the Tchaikovsky festival -- Peck in Allegro Brillante, Hyltin in Mozartiana, Reichlin in Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.
5. New choreography that matters: The third and final ballet of Ratmansky's Shoshtakovich trilogy which I saw on its own at ABT's fall season--with two different casts. A ballet that has stayed with me and that I would be happy to see again.
6. Revival of Substance: Ashton's a Month in the Country with ABT (two different casts). Honorable mention to Tharp's Bach Partita.
7. Special partnering highlight: Bolle and Semionova, the long difficult lift that opens the Sylvia Act III pas de deux genuinely danced as if a pleasure -- not performed as if a feat. Even better: her large, easy, joyful leap into his arms as he immediately dipped her into a fish dive. The audience sighed audibly....with reason.
8. Gillian Murphy at the height of her career: whether in Ashton, Tharp, or Mark Morris. Just a pleasure
9. David Bintley's Carmina Burana with the Atlanta Ballet. Atlanta's company often turns to modern dance and "contemporary" ballet. Bintley's work seemed to me legitimately neo-classical with its playful riffs on tradition including a ballerina taken through her partnering paces by 4 men (rose adagio citation) and a medieval feasting scene with "swan" on the menu. It's not Balanchine or even Ratmansky but certainly one of the more interesting ballet works they have performed and happily had live music from the GA State University Chorus.
Worst of what I have seen this year:
1. Clear at ABT. Dreadful ballet, mediocre dancing (at least with the one cast I saw). Dancewise I exempt Thomas Forster from this worst list.
2. The magic of the opening scene of ABT's Sylvia just ever so slightly spoiled in all three performances I saw because of of miscues in the ensemble--Ashton's magic is a delicate affair. One muffed performance I might overlook. Not three.
3. Disastrous partnering: Jared Matthews (replacing Gomez) and Gillian Murphy in matinee ABT Sylvia doing difficult opening lift of the Act III pas de deux. It was like watching a car crash in slow motion though the final explosion never occured as he did get her safely to the ground. Since he was a replacement we can say mitigating circumstances but it was genuinely painful to watch. Less egregious, but plenty awkward; Alexander Sergeyev and Daria Pavlenko missing a shoulder lift in Ratmansky's Cinderella at the Mariinsky--since the choreography had him carrying her across the stage, she just had to hold on to him with one hand as the other went through half the port de bras. In this case, she was a replacement, so we can also say mitigating circumstances, but aesthetically ...