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2018 Spring Season

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I saw last evening's (May 29) program: Mozartiana, Not Our Fate, Pulchinella Variations, and Glass Pieces. Mozartiana: I take it all back that I was disappointed in Maria Kowroski's dancing last month. In Mozartiana she was spectacular, like a fleeting butterfly or a water sprite, ethereal, almost surreal, every move flowing from the one before and perfect. It is a demanding role and from my perch in Orchestra row F she didn't seem to tire, her energy as high at the end as the beginning. It was a privilege to witness her performance. Tyler Angle was of course an excellent partner and his solos were executed well, but he is not a butterfly! Daniel Ulbricht executed his intricate solos well, but I like him best in comedic roles where his ebullient personality can shine. The four little girls from SAB (about 8 or 9 years old) were delightful. 

What surprised me was Lauren Lovette's Not Our Fate. I expected it to be a throwaway little piece created for the gala, but it was the highlight of the evening and the audience responded with the most loud and sustained applause of the evening, plus multiple curtain calls. Michael Nyman's music is intense, throbbing, pulsating, and the choreography matched it with whirling, nonstop, riveting action. Best was the same sex couple of Taylor Stanley and Preston Chamblee--the intensity, fearlessness, emotion and action of this couple caught the entire audience in its thrall. Wonderful piece of work for Lovette and I hope to see more of what she has up her sleeve.

For me the disappointment of the night was Justin Peck's Pulchinella Variations. The audience gasped at the costumes when the curtain went up and revealed the cast on stage but as soon as they started dancing the costumes became an impediment to the dancing, at least for me. The distracting images (eyeballs??), teacup skirts that flopped ridiculously, crazy patterns from neck to toe that obscured the usual beautiful line of the dancers' bodies--all of these got in the way of the dancing and choreography and prevented me from enjoying the piece. What was Peck thinking when he chose these costumes? On the dancers: at the last minute Sara Mearns was replaced by Miriam Miller (I hope Mearns is not injured, she is scheduled to dance tonight). Miller is tall and it seemed like she and Jared Angle did not have time to rehearse or get comfortable with each other--early in the pas de deux their hands did not catch and he had to upright her. The lifts were awkward as well. The rest of the cast was wonderful, especially Anthony Huxley's solo (although the flapping streamers on his arms were distracting). Best was Unity Phelan--she has it all! I see principal dancer in her future. Her partner, Joseph Gordon, continues to unimpress me. 

Glass Pieces is one of my favorite Robbins dances and on this viewing I deepened my appreciation of it. I love the music so much I bought it a few years ago and play it often. Such brilliant choreography it stuns me every time. Teresa Reichlen and Ask La Cour were perfection, their bodies so beautifully suited to each other, the classic, cool interpretation and poses contrasting with the pulsating staccato music of the rest of the piece. This role suits Reichlen to a T and she reminded me here of Suzanne Farrell. This is my last NYCB performance for this season and I wish I could have seen more. 

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Posted (edited)

Ashley Hod fell badly at the end of today's Mozartiana. Not sure how she fell- I was looking at Schumacher(who performed wonderfully. I actually attended today's performance to see him in this role) then I heard her scream and realized she had fallen on stage. She was able to walked off from the stage by herself but it looked very painful. I really hope the injury isn't too serious... 

Because of Ashley's injury Emilie Gerrity substitued her part in Pulcinella Variations(the announcement incorrectly stated Unity Phelan will substitute). She literally just had her lipsticks on without the usual pancake foundation. Thank god she was available to step in last minute. Another substitution was Daniel Applebaum who stepped in for Joseph Gordon in Glass Pieces(I'm assuming he's saving his body for tomorrow's debut in Coppelia)Bravo to all the dancers who kept the show going after such a startling accident. 

Edited by alexL

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1 hour ago, alexL said:

Ashley Hod fell badly at the end of today's Mozartiana. Not sure how she fell- I was looking at Schumacher(who performed wonderfully. I actually attended today's performance to see him in this role) then I heard her scream and realized she had fallen on stage. She was able to walked off from the stage by herself but it looked very painful. I really hope the injury isn't too serious... 

Because of Ashley's injury Emilie Gerrity substitued her part in Pulcinella Variations(the announcement incorrectly stated Unity Phelan will substitute). She literally just had her lipsticks on without the usual pancake foundation. Thank god she was available to step in last minute. Another substitution was Daniel Applebaum who stepped in for Joseph Gordon in Glass Pieces(I'm assuming he's saving his body for tomorrow's debut in Coppelia)Bravo to all the dancers who kept the show going after such a startling accident. 

It was awful. Considering dancers are in pain quite often, it must have been pretty bad for her to scream like that. 

I don't know if it was just me but Mozartiana felt 'off' from the beginning. The ladies' quartet was by my favorite part, and Ashley was doing really beautiful work before she fell.

I hope all she needs is some ice and a good period of rest. At least it happened at the very end of the season. 

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10 hours ago, Inge said:

Ashley was doing really beautiful work before she fell.

I hope all she needs is some ice and a good period of rest. At least it happened at the very end of the season. 

Hod has been dancing beautifully all season! I saw her in both Mozartiana and Pulcinella Variations on Wednesday evening, and thought she was something special: she has a style all her own, which isn't always the case early in a dancer's career. (Or in many cases, ever. There are plenty of able, reliable dancers—and not just in the corps—who are more or less generic representations of the house style rather than individually interesting realizations of it.) 

If she's injured, I wish her a speedy recovery. Although ...  I do hope she will take all the time she needs to recover fully and achieve what her dancing to date has promised.

And just a quick observation: all four of the women in the quartet I saw (Hod, Kitka, LaFreniere, and Wellington) were a delight to watch, as was Schumacher. He dances the Gigue with real wit, and it's refreshing. 

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That's so unfortunate to hear about Hod. I was particularly impressed with her earlier this season. Speaking of Ashleys, any news on Ashly Isaacs? I haven't seen her dance in the longest time.

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3 hours ago, Emma said:

That's so unfortunate to hear about Hod. I was particularly impressed with her earlier this season. Speaking of Ashleys, any news on Ashly Isaacs? I haven't seen her dance in the longest time.

Ditto Harrison Ball.

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Reporting late on last Tuesday's performance, with Mozartiana, Not Our Fate, Pulcinella Variations, and Glass Pieces (I did not stay to see Glass Pieces). I have loved Maria Kowrsoki since she's returned from maternity leave (well, since before then, as well), but for the first time she didn't look so great to me. I thought she looked tired and wobbly. Tyler Angle had more ease than I expected in his variations. I am ready for some fresh casting in this piece (Ashley Laracey?). This was my first viewing of Not Our Fate. I found the music bombastic and could not figure out what the piece wanted to say. This seemed to be the "Dancers Running Around" school of modern choreography, with much frantic to and fro under dark lighting. The audience roared with approval, which I found disheartening. Really? Finally, this was also my first viewing of Pulcinella Variations, and I'm relieved to be able to say I found it very interesting and rewarding, with whimsically intriguing costumes. Emilie Gerrity continues to look very grand. Glad to see it again. Too tired to sit through Glass Pieces again., so I left at intermission 

Looking forward to the season closer tomorrow. 

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Just back to our hotel from the season closer. What a perfect Balanchine 3ple bill: Concerto B, Agon & Four Ts.  Not only did the knowledgeable audience cheer heartily for the dancers who are leaving - Lowery particularly poignant in the first two ballets -  but I cheered for the future principals so spectacular here, such as Ashley Laracey, channeling Le Clerq in Concerto Barocco, Miriam Miller so drop-dead gorgeous in Agon’s pdd w/ Tyler Angle, Emily Gerrity in Four Ts Sanguinic w/ Zachary Catazaro, Megan Le Crone spot-on In Choleric, Unity Phelan and farewell-guy Cameron Dieck so sharp in the 3rd Theme! On and on. This program was a winner!

 

Best wishes and heartfelt thanks to those retiring!

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I am sorry there wasn’t special recognition for Lowery - I expected her to step forward for a solo bow and maybe flowers brought on by Jon Stafford. I feel I didn’t get to properly say goodbye or thank her for many wonderful performances. The audience clearly wanted more, and she looked like she was crying. Thank you and heartfelt best wishes, Savannah!

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1 hour ago, cobweb said:

I am sorry there wasn’t special recognition for Lowery - I expected her to step forward for a solo bow and maybe flowers brought on by Jon Stafford. I feel I didn’t get to properly say goodbye or thank her for many wonderful performances. The audience clearly wanted more, and she looked like she was crying. Thank you and heartfelt best wishes, Savannah!

If you look on the instagram stories you'll see that during class apparently there was a farewell before the performance. Looked very emotional. I agree it was a lovely way to end the season. The Bouder-Gordon Coppelia was wonderful as well:

https://humbledandoverwhelmed.blogspot.com/2018/06/sab-workshop-ushers-in-new-stars-while.html

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23 hours ago, cobweb said:

Reporting late on last Tuesday's performance, with Mozartiana, Not Our Fate, Pulcinella Variations, and Glass Pieces (I did not stay to see Glass Pieces). I have loved Maria Kowrsoki since she's returned from maternity leave (well, since before then, as well), but for the first time she didn't look so great to me. I thought she looked tired and wobbly. Tyler Angle had more ease than I expected in his variations. I am ready for some fresh casting in this piece (Ashley Laracey?). This was my first viewing of Not Our Fate. I found the music bombastic and could not figure out what the piece wanted to say. This seemed to be the "Dancers Running Around" school of modern choreography, with much frantic to and fro under dark lighting. The audience roared with approval, which I found disheartening. Really? Finally, this was also my first viewing of Pulcinella Variations, and I'm relieved to be able to say I found it very interesting and rewarding, with whimsically intriguing costumes. Emilie Gerrity continues to look very grand. Glad to see it again. Too tired to sit through Glass Pieces again., so I left at intermission 

Looking forward to the season closer tomorrow. 

I too was confused by the fact that Not Our Fate received the loudest applause. I'm assuming it's because of the impressive pas de deux by Preston Chamblee and Taylor Stanley. 

There is a good ballet buried under all the excess. I think perhaps a lack of confidence pushed her into overstuffing it. And boy oh boy did the piece bring out the melodramatic side of Michael Nyman's music. 

I really wanted to like this. 

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Posted (edited)

What an incredible afternoon at the ballet and a close to the season. It felt like the company was dancing full-out, and they delivered some of the most exciting performances I've seen all season.

It's hard to believe Ashley Laracey and Silas Farley were making their debuts in Concerto Barocco. Laracey was exquisite and soared in Farley's arms. Their PDD brought me to tears. Lowery was fantastic. I've been very critical of her dancing over the past couple seasons, but this afternoon, I think I saw the qualities that others have so admired in her really come out. She was bold, effervescent and her dancing had great attack.

I had no idea Miriam Miller would be so fierce in Agon. It's been quite a long time since I've seen the scorpion leg-whip around the partner's back executed so quickly and perfectly. T. Angle was of course a super solid partner. I couldn't take my eyes off of Unity Phelan. Those extensions! It looked like she was practically whacking herself in the head with her leg. Again, Lowery was so impressive. Daniel Appelbaum, who was subbing for, I believe, Andrew Scordato, needs to do something with his hair. There's all this weird length in the back that flops around as he's dancing; it's really distracting. 

Four Temperaments was danced with more energy than I've seen all season. Villarini-Velez made a fantastic debut in Melancholic. I haven't seen much of him in the past, but I was so impressed with his dancing -- fantastic leaps -- and characterization. Ask la Cour probably made the least impact. LeCrone really was great in Choleric, as noted above. I seem to remember others weren't impressed with her Choleric earlier this season, but she was really on today.

This afternoon's performance made me really excited for the talent pipeline at NYCB -- most roles were danced by corps members and soloists, and they delivered some of the strongest performances I've seen all year at NYCB.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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I too was surprised that Lowery wasn’t presented with a bouquet, on stage. She was a Soloist. Maybe the protocol is that only Principals receive on-stage bouquets at their farewells? 

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As everyone has said, it was a bittersweet final performance/final weekend (with the Workshop as well). On the "bitter" side, I am sorry to see long-term company members depart. They feel like old friends. Likolani Brown and Savannah Lowery had probably taken their dance career as far as it could go, whereas Cameron Dieck, IMHO, definitely had larger roles in his future. For that reason, I am especially sorry to see him leave. On "sweet" side were fine debuts by Ashley Laracey, Silas Farley, and especially surprising to me, Sebastian Villarini-Velez's Melancholic. Wow. Whoever had the idea to pluck him out of the corps should be commended. I never paid attention to him before, but I am very glad to make his acquaintance. Then there's Miriam Miller. I have been a doubter for some time, finding her lacking in interest, but I was thrilled to be proven wrong. Way more capable and fierce than I imagined she could be. (Now, if only I can keep a similarly open mind about the apparently much-improved Erica Pereira...??). Finally I thoroughly enjoyed Emilie Gerrity's Sanguinic once again. So, the young new generation of soon-to-be apprentices, the up-and-coming dancers like Gerrity, Miller, and Villarini-Velez, and the departures of dear old friends. I don't know whose decision it was (Lowery or management) not to give Lowery a solo bow, but IMHO it was a mistake. The audience wants to say goodbye to such a well-known, long-term soloist. 

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IIRC, Craig Hall didn't get an on-stage acknowledgment during his final appearance (which I believe was at Saratoga, where they'd perhaps be even more likely to do so since it is more of a casual environment). Though, I agree it would be nice to do some type of on-stage acknowledgment for departing non-principle dancers.

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I think the most gracious farewell performance I've ever seen was Ballet Arizona's last performance of this season.  It was Natalia Magnicaballi's farewell to the company, and her last performances of the Siren in "Prodigal Son" and The Sleepwalker in "La Sonnambula."  Also retiring from the Company were Chelsea Teel, who danced with Roman Zavarov as the first couple in the opener, "Symphony in Three Movements" and as a Guest in "La Sonnambula," and Annier Navarro, who danced with Eric Hipolito Jr. as a Servant in "Prodigal Son" and then in the Pastorale divertissement in "La Sonnambula."

Typically for "Symphony in Three Movements" curtain calls, the order is first, third, and second (pas de deux) couples, but for her final performance, Teel and Zavarov were the last couple out.  Teel got to take solo bows and was applauded by the Company.  After their bows in "Prodigal Son," Magnicaballi and Poet Helio Lima ceded the stage to Navarro, who also received appreciation from the Company.  Magnicaballi took her final solo bows at the end of the program, after "La Sonnambula."  

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13 hours ago, wonderwall said:

IIRC, Craig Hall didn't get an on-stage acknowledgment during his final appearance (which I believe was at Saratoga, where they'd perhaps be even more likely to do so since it is more of a casual environment). Though, I agree it would be nice to do some type of on-stage acknowledgment for departing non-principle dancers.

Neither did Rachel Rutherford, whose last performance, IIRC, was the Verdy role in Emeralds. 

I too agree that the company could make a little bit of a fuss over retiring dancers who have served the company well and honorably, and that includes the corps stalwarts who show up and do what needs to be done night after night.

Edited by Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted (edited)

But didn't Antonio Carmena got a bouquet, just a year or so ago? I recall a little something extra for him. 

Edited by cobweb

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For a program in which none of the splendid female principals that chiefly make NYCB performances rewarding to attend participated, Sunday afternoon’s spring season finale—Concerto Barocco; Agon; The Four Temperaments—proved eminently engaging. No matter how magnificent the ballets on a program may be, having appealing dancers enact the most significant roles is essential of course to imbuing these works with life. Happily, although no one generally should be promoted to principal (or soloist) status at the drop of a hat, NYCB currently has such dancers in its lower ranks.

First of all, Savannah Lowery and Cameron Dieck, each appearing in two ballets during the afternoon, were both in excellent form for their farewell performances. And Likolani Brown for one last time graced a ballet—fittingly the divine Concerto Barocco—with her lovely presence in the corps.

During certain rare moments in life suddenly time appears suspended, and an instant (through some ostensible supernatural alchemy) paradoxically acquires the aspect of—infinity! A reminder of this phenomenon occurred Sunday in the course of the pas de deux in Agon, when the male dancer drops to the floor on his back while grasping the hand of and supporting the ballerina on pointe in a 180 degree extension. This sequence was pulled off distinctively by Tyler Angle and Miriam Miller, who appeared utterly at ease and held her unswerving position for what seemed like an eternity! No doubt Angle's steadying influence aided the comparatively inexperienced Miller's overall solid performance Sunday in Agon.

A memorable debut by Sebastian Villarini-Velez in "Melancholic" and a superb turn by Emilie Gerrity in "Sanguinic" anchored a wonderful rendition of The Four Temperaments. All the corps women (and apprentices) in the Variations, through their laudable efforts, drew attention to Balanchine's stupendous choreography. Two that appeared early in the First Variation throughout this year’s run of the ballet—Meagan Mann and Olivia MacKinnon—are standouts.

To be sure, I wanted to witness Mimi Staker's debut as the second woman in "Theme," a role she performed impressively. However, what sealed the deal for me buying a ticket for Sunday’s season finale was the casting in Agon and The Four Temperaments—debuting as the third woman in "Theme" in the latter—of Unity Phelan, who was dazzling in both.

Yet what truly made the final NYCB performance of the season unmissable was the debut of Ashley Laracey as the main ballerina in Concerto Barocco ... an estimable artist performing a magnificent part in one of the greatest of all ballets. The gracefulness which is intrinsically an essential attribute of every admirable ballerina appears in Laracey—partly on account of the exquisite shapeliness and proportionality of her limbs, partly as a result of her experience, her skillfulness, her artistry, and partly (perhaps) since she is not observed in roles with splashier choreography—in concentrated and primordial form. And Concerto Barocco provided her with plenty of scope Sunday to showcase her strong suit. Not surprisingly, therefore, her time on stage in this pivotal role resulted in a continuous flow of wondrous, ethereal movement that was enthralling. In consequence of the height of Silas Farley, who in his debut was an outstanding partner, spectacular lifts materialized during the gorgeous second section of the ballet. All three performances of Concerto Barocco this season with Laracey in the primary and secondary ballerina roles were, in sum, among the most treasurable in what was another fantastic NYCB season.

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On 6/3/2018 at 10:19 PM, fondoffouettes said:

 

Four Temperaments was danced with more energy than I've seen all season. Villarini-Velez made a fantastic debut in Melancholic. I haven't seen much of him in the past, but I was so impressed with his dancing -- fantastic leaps -- and characterization. Ask la Cour probably made the least impact. LeCrone really was great in Choleric, as noted above. I seem to remember others weren't impressed with her Choleric earlier this season, but she was really on today.

This afternoon's performance made me really excited for the talent pipeline at NYCB -- most roles were danced by corps members and soloists, and they delivered some of the strongest performances I've seen all year at NYCB.

I have been rooting for Sebastian V-V to get soloist roles for a while now, so I was obviously excited to see him dancing this part. He has a very easy musicality and a fluidity of movement with just the right inflection to make it interesting. (He also has movie star looks--just check out his "screen test" interview on Youtube.) As to this particular performance, I thought he could have been freer, but I guess nerves were understandable.   

I know LeCrone is not widely loved but I've always liked her in 4T and Agon, mixing angularity with a hint of seductiveness. I certainly prefer her to Reichlen in Choleric. Neither la Cour nor Janzen works for me as Phlegmatic. I wish I had seen Adrian D-W live for once. 

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Posted (edited)

I'm surprised to read so many generous impressions on Sunday's performance. Perhaps my impression was colored by my seat, and the fact that I was and remain rather indifferent to both retiring dancers.  

Ashley Laracey was certainly much more expressive and spiritual than Reichlen in the primary ballerina role in Barocco. Reichlen, though technically secure, often appears impervious and too "objective" in many roles that calls for more interpretation. And Farley partnered her well, smooth and secure, fully utilizing his height during some of the more complex "pretzeling" moves.  Lowery has expressive port de bras but there is this slight disconnect and lack of precision from the waist down. 

Agon really needs a great cast to exert its power. And this was not one. The (ideally) thrilling opening section (the moving blocks of four, the two rows with dancers switching places) did not project much power, at least not to the fourth ring.  Peter Walker was completely wrong for the first pas de trois, his slender height making his central axis wobble wildly and discordantly. Last time I saw Lowery in the second pas de trois, her being one of the least slender women in the company obviously impacted the partnering of the two thinner men who were dancing with her, and this time it improved a little. Miller seemed competent enough in the pas de deux, but I did not sense any star quality or any reason to feel excited, especially given how well Kowroski has been dancing this pas this season. (Miller's Titania last Spring didn't make much of an impression either.) The ending of this Agon just fizzled completely.

I'be been told by a seasoned NYCB goer that 4T has been in good shape for many years, while Agon is not. There may be quite some truth in this observation. I've never been "disappointed" by a 4T by NYCB in the past couple of years.  I have no opinion on Dieck because he never stood out in any way to me. But I think overall it was a solid, solid performance. Sebastian V-V was lovely, though obviously not to the level of Huxley. Gerrity had projection and presence in spades. The finale never fails to move and inspire, particularly when the score opens up to the major note. I remember in a winter performance a lady sitting next to me exclaimed "This is a masterpiece!" right as the curtain dropped on 4T. 

 

With injuries, retirements, leaves of absence, the roster of male dancers at NYCB is looking depleted. I continue to hope for the emergence of a male dancer with the proportion, the presence, the expressive and technical prowess of a true danseur noble. 

 

Edited by bcash

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On 6/4/2018 at 11:16 PM, wonderwall said:

IIRC, Craig Hall didn't get an on-stage acknowledgment during his final appearance (which I believe was at Saratoga, where they'd perhaps be even more likely to do so since it is more of a casual environment). Though, I agree it would be nice to do some type of on-stage acknowledgment for departing non-principle dancers.

I saw Craig Hall's final NYC performance. He didn't get a bouquet, but they added After the Rain ppd to the program so that he could perform and NYCB posted online that he would be retiring and becoming a ballet master, so most of the audience knew. I don't think he got a solo bow, but it was very moving to see him perform that piece one last time. I wish they would do one solo bow for departing soloists. What could it hurt?

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On 6/8/2018 at 2:50 PM, BalanchineFan said:

I saw Craig Hall's final NYC performance. He didn't get a bouquet, but they added After the Rain ppd to the program so that he could perform and NYCB posted online that he would be retiring and becoming a ballet master, so most of the audience knew. I don't think he got a solo bow, but it was very moving to see him perform that piece one last time. I wish they would do one solo bow for departing soloists. What could it hurt?

Well, on the one hand, he got a dance rather than a bouquet.  But it would be a graceful gesture to give a moment for dancers who are moving to the next adventure.  I don't know the policy at NYCB -- at PNB they seem to get to choose.  Some dancers prefer not to make much of a fuss, but others are happy to stand in front of their peers for a moment and let us recognize the work that goes into the career, whatever your rank.

 

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And others would have chosen no fuss, but indulge us anyway.  And, for that, I am grateful.

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