On Saturday night, several hundred people waited in a long line outside the Brooklyn Academy of Music in order to get in to see the New York City Ballet and the New York City Sinfonia dance at the 20th annual Faculty, Artist and Ensemble night. It was the first time in more than 20 months that the in-person audience has been welcomed back to the venue, and with this news comes the chance to have a new perspective and to see the city in a new light.
After gaining popularity during the ’60s and ’70s, who knew that the orchestra had prospered so much that it was now expanding the partnership and even returning to NYCB? For all those concert-goers, this opening performance of ABT’s third major season in the former theater that housed the New York City Ballet (now called the Koch Theatre) has to be the perfect way to welcome back New York to the area.
The program was curated by Simon de Nerval, who has served as the director of operations at the orchestra, and includes a conductor’s program and an “ABT/NYCS” (ABT/NYCS) program. The orchestra is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and set to have its 10-year contract with NYCB up for renewal. Many people have fallen in love with both companies and the venues, and now having both back in the city is so refreshing to see such huge troupes with big names and programs for all audiences.
In addition to the impressive lineup of dancers from the New York City Ballet, including company principal company dancers Akane Takada, Sascha Radetsky, Vladislav Sretenov, Tanja Petrov, Lauren Lovette, Asela Lubgin, Russell Thomas, Alina Cojocaru, and Cheyenne Jackson, the first half of the evening featured off-off-Broadway pieces for the Sinfonia, and featured many percussionist/artists for the New York City Ballet Company.
I first began my association with the opera and ballet with ballet class when I was in third grade at my family’s apartment building on Park Avenue. And while I was not always the brightest student in the class, there was always something exciting about the classroom. My parents were so proud when I returned to school the following year, because “we sent you to dance class,” I was told. It’s such a great feeling to have your parents think this highly of you, but to know that you are well respected by teachers, and are even considered among the best dancers in your class is special. It shows your hard work paying off.
During my teen years, I made my way to a local studio for dance lessons, and was very fortunate that I got to stay after school, because there was a ballet class every evening and I needed a little extra practice before I went home. This was when the dance renaissance was happening at this time, and it was a good experience to take that trip to NYC to see all the ballet companies I had admired. I was impressed to see and experience the history of ballet and the different talents it has produced all over the world. It was an experience I will never forget.
When I was in college, I became director of the NYCB weekly section in the theater department, and I interviewed the best students from the dance division, and I also interviewed some teachers who were here in NYC. I remember it very well because it was a true celebration for us all to meet each other, and to also show that we were building our own very strong ballet tradition while also exhibiting all the traits that NYCB is known for.
Growing up in a crowded building in Hell’s Kitchen for the first two years of my life, I did not have to worry about finding the nearest dance studio or to focus on mastering a specific class. I was always drawn to the dancers and the reason for dancing, and how good they were at what they were doing. It was truly a beautiful scene! And we will always love having our beautiful NYCB and NYCS in our backyard.
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