It was a last minute decision (the doors were literally closing when my friend Jenny and I decided to attend), so we rushed to our seats and eagerly opened our Playbill to find out what we were seeing.
Dances at a Gathering was choreographed by Jerome Robbins in 1969. The movement was beautiful, and featured ten dancers performing to Chopin’s piano music. In general I love simple ballet pieces that are focused solely on the music and the dancing, and don’t distract with elaborate costumes and scenery. However, because the piece lasts for over an hour, I felt that Dances at a Gathering didn’t quite have enough to keep the audience engaged for that long.
Union Jack, on the other hand, had plenty of entertainment value! It was choreographed by New York City Ballet’s world-renowned George Balanchine. It was first performed on the United States’ bicentennial in honor of our British heritage. And oh my gosh is the opening cool! Part I, my favorite, was modeled after Scottish military tattoos. The stage was filled with dancers performing synchronized movements in military formations, and the level of precision was mind blowing. Part I is now one of my absolute favorite pieces, it was that stunning!
Part II was a strange pas de deux (think Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen in Les Mis) so I could have done without that. But Part III was a fun tribute to Royal Navy chants, jigs and dances, and the audience had a lot of fun with it. Then the grand finale resulted in the unfurling of a massive United Kingdom flag, which obviously I loved.
Notice the lone dancer on the stage. This is Jenifer Ringer, a New York City Ballet principal dancer who took her final bow after this performance. She was retiring after an impressive ballet career, and Jenifer was given the most generous sendoff by the audience and her fellow dancers. There were flowers everywhere, and people just kept throwing more!
Since Jenny and I both danced, it made us tear up watching her say her final farewell to dance.
After the show, we headed out into the atrium and were casually looking over the railing (as demonstrated by Jenny) when we noticed something…
Do you see it?
How about now?
That’s right. The entire floor is covered in dancers!
Why? We don’t really know. But we liked it.
And we were left with no other choice…
I know, I know. We’re naturals.
The New York City Ballet is an impressive company that I highly recommend. And if you get a chance to see them perform Union Jack, you must take it!