I loved yesterday's program "Short Stories" as much as I loved Thursday's "All Balanchine". I am so happy to have been able to support the company, see them dance, and give them the standing ovations they deserve. It is sad that they only sold 35 % of the amphitheater space, as @FPF noted. I see those two programs as perhaps sparking interest in ballet-going newbies for future SPAC seasons and I wish there had been more tickets sold because they could have easily sold additional amphitheater tickets (they eliminated the pod seating on the lawn, I believe) and still have maintained meaningful social distancing. It seemed Thursday's matinee performance had a larger audience, and I'm sure the rainy forecast had something to do with it..
I loved that Maria Kowroski hosted and she was generous and fun in her recollections, comments and compliments. It was great to see so many corps de ballet members, as well as principals and one soloist, Sara Adams, dance principal roles and dance them with rock-solid technique and great artistry. I loved Tess Reichlen's delicate, soulful handling of Odette and as always, her interpretation of the Firebird. How I longed to see her dance the Berceuse! Meaghan Dutton-O'Hara was absolutely lovely as Aurora and danced her Rose Adagio with secure grace, a beautiful technique and great confidence. Miriam Miller did not disappoint as Titania in MSND; she danced gracefully and beautifully, and conveyed playful sweetness in her infatuation with Bottom. I would love to see both these ballerinas dance these full-length roles. I have never seen The Concert, believe it or not, but I am not going to let that stand; I have recently purchased the Tribute to Robbins DVD. What a delight Robbins' choreography is, and it is fun and interesting to see it side by side again with Balanchine's mastery and sensibilities. They complement each other, I think, and Jerry R's genius is certainly his own. I loved the athletic, jazzy choreography in Fancy Free, too; the danseurs were sassy and sexy, the choreography conveying the joy and release of being on shore leave. Sara Adams danced an elegant and stunning Princess Florine with her marvelous Bluebird, Spartak Hoxha. I think Emily Kikta danced "Chapeau Girl" (my name for her) in Western Symphony with the required sass and bodacious charm that I often find lacking in others' performance. I think Gonzalo and she had chemistry and the pairing worked very nicely. Overall, I am as impressed with the men dancers as I am with the ballerinas. I have felt depressed that the company will no longer have Maria, whose artistry has reached a stunning high, in my opinion, and who represents the end to an era, too, but I feel confident the company is in excellent hands and look forward to seeing these corp members grow and hopefully reach their own artistic pinnacles. I know I am very gushy in my assessment but I can't help it; it was a breath of fresh air to see NYCB perform this week and I am on Cloud Nine today!
About yesterday, personally. We hosted after two years our annual ballet picnic. It was a small group of dear friends compared to past picnics where sometimes we had as many as twenty-five guests, which was grand fun, too. It was wonderfully relaxing, easy-breezy, but there was also a solemn feeling of gratitude and we were so grateful to be able to share this day together again. I have gotten into the habit of honoring dancers who have recently passed and so we honored Jacques D'Amboise. I shared the NYT obituary with everyone in an email and talked about his dancing with respect to the pieces being offered in both of the programs, including the elegant show-off, competitive-like shenanigans with Tanny in Western Symphony. We also honored fellow BA member, Katherine Barber, who graciously attended a few of our picnics with her friends, which was such a treat for my husband and me. Rest In Peace, departed souls.