My budding ballerina granddaughter, Mercedes, had been dancing with Ballet Abilene for 6 years when I took her to NYC to see Swan Lake performed by American Ballet Theatre. I was uncertain as to whether or not she would be able to sit still for the entire performance, so I told her at the beginning it was going to be long, and if she was too tired, we COULD leave early if she wanted to. Well, Mercedes did not even move her eyes from the stage the entire performance and was sitting on the edge of her seat as well! It was amazing to hear her describe it later. She was 9 years old and had picked up on every movement and told me about every detail. The love of ballet and the staging, the music, and the Metropolitan Opera House’s magnificence will be with us forever. Thank you for enriching our lives with all the hard work you do. We will be forever grateful.
Gladys Knight
Abilene, TX

Over the years, my mother and I had an annual outing. She loved Swan Lake, and every spring we made a date and would see the ballet together. I think it was in July of 2012 that I purchased tickets for a Saturday matinee. She was ill that day and wanted badly to stay home, insisting that she had nothing to wear. I persisted, we "cabbed" it to Lincoln Center, and a wheelchair was produced for her use. The staff was very kind, she looked lovely, and she completely enjoyed the performance. It was the last time that she saw the company dance because she passed away in October of that year. This was also the last ballet that she saw, and the dancers were in excellent form. I still get tickets for performances and think of her as the curtain goes up.
Sidney Hodges
New York, NY

I was 16 and ABT came to my hometown of Syracuse, NY. I saw Eric Bruhn dance and it inspired me to continue my ballet training. It was life changing for me. ABT continues to amaze and inspire me. I've been attending since the ‘70s. Thank you ABT from the bottom of my heart for all these incredible years of entertainment.
Dick Corrigan
New York, NY

The first ABT performance I attended was in the early ‘70s at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was Swan Lake and starred Lupe Serrano and Royes Fernandez . It was a bravura performance by both principals, which led to many curtain calls, and the boxes, for some reason, were filled with uniformed cadets who threw white roses at Ms. Serrano's feet! We were smitten with her, the company and ballet for life.
Anonymous
Levittown, NY

I saw La Bayadère in May 2014 with Diana Vishneva in the lead role. It brought me to tears. I had not watched a ballet in about 7-8 years, and Diana's grace, elegance and the emotion she invested into her role was unbelievably transporting. I left the performance completely reminded of the power of ballet to express many aspects of the human experience.
Bernice Tsai
New York, NY

ABT has really been wonderful over the years; I have enjoyed every performance and watching dancers grow over time. I remember Cynthia Gregory and Susan Jaffe dancing, later Alessandra Ferri and Julio Bocca (both incredible) and of course Nina Ananiashvili, who is my favorite Odette/Odile that I have ever seen. The movement of her arms as a swan was incredible. It has also been a pleasure to watch Julie Kent, whom I noticed when she was in the corps de ballet, become a principal dancer. I will be sad to see her in her final performance this year. I was also present at Alessandra Ferri's final performance, Romeo & Juliet. She was so wonderful as Juliet and as Giselle. I'm not quite sure who my new favorites are, but I continue to enjoy watching Marcelo Gomes grow since he joined the company. I'm looking forward to this new season!
Anonymous
Brooklyn, NY

In 2009, I was a student at Mary Washington in Virginia. I took the train to DC to see Gillian Murphy in Swan Lake. I was mesmerized by her. Everything about the ballet was beautiful, and it transported me to the lakeside castle for 2.5 hours. The sets and costumes were breathtaking. The only company whose Swan Lake I want to see is ABT’s. There's something about ABT that other companies do not have. And every time I see a ballet from them it's as if I am seeing it for the first time. The dancers, costumes, sets, and music breathe life in to every ballet and every performance. I now live in NYC and every summer I attend as many performances at the Metropolitan Opera House as possible. I can't wait to see Gillian in 2015!
Caitlin Brady
New York, NY

Literally breathtaking was my experience of seeing Cynthia Gregory and Fernando Bujones perform in Swan Lake. Her slow, seemingly effortless pirouettes in his arms appeared to result in the audience collectively holding its breath as she completed her turns. Unforgettable. When I need my "fix" of Swan Lake, I know exactly where to go. No other company brings such spectacle and majesty to my very favorite full-length ballet.
Anonymous
Little Neck, NY

The striking beauty of the scenery, costumes, and the dancers: it's an escape from the real world to find a place where beauty, grace, and serenity exist. I feel so privileged to have introduced my godchildren to this experience with The Nutcracker.
Joanne Romeo
Brooklyn, NY

It was at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in the mid-1960s when I was in high school and I saw Giselle on a weekend matinee - it was a revelation. The dancing was excellent, and I recall being very impressed by the death of Hilarion, rolling off into the lake after being cursed by the Willis. It was so unfair for him to die! I was then overcome by the final pas de deux - another beautiful, sad moment. I was in a daze after the performance and have been coming almost every season, now from out of state.
John Shields
Baltimore, MD

My first performance was one to definitely remember. It was Giselle featuring Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg, and this was my first live performance. To say I was excited would be an extreme understatement. ABT was on tour in Chicago at the Auditorium Theater in 2010, and I just remember sitting there in awe and thinking this is what I want to do with my life. ABT inspired me to want to become a professional dancer and inspire other young aspiring dancers. I will always remember this day not only because it was my first ballet, but because it was ABT. Most recently I saw a young dancer in the corps, Skylar Brandt, perform a lead role in Ratmansky’s Shostakovich Triology. This young dancer came out and truly lifted the whole energy of the theater, and I could not take my eyes off of her! She was so strong and had such an airy feel to her dancing that it looked so easy! These are just a few of the moments that I was truly inspired and changed by ABT. Thank you!
Joseph Massarelli
Elk Grove Village, IL

The performance that most sticks out in my mind was shortly after Angel Corella joined ABT. He was dancing Romeo and Juliet with Yan Chen at a matinee performance. I was about 14 at the time; his boyish performance was so heartbreaking that I instantly developed a teenage crush on him. I hadn't known that was possible - everyone else my age crushed on movie stars, but here I was, in love with a dancer. Over the years, I followed his career avidly and was most excited when he was on the bill, knowing I would be in for a treat. He always carried his partners, gracious as a prince, helping his partners shine. Also, I already very much miss Jose Manuel Carreño, who was the embodiment of a statuesque, charming yet steely prince. I am not a dancer myself, but ABT gave me a love for dance; it helped me appreciate the beauty of the body and how mesmerizing it can be.
Karissa Chen
Guttenberg, NJ

My daughter Oriana and I traveled to New York this past June to celebrate her fifteenth birthday. It was our first visit to the U.S.A. - we are Argentinian. My child has been learning ballet since she was 5 years ago, in Paraná, the city where we live. Oriana wanted to see ABT's Giselle with Polina Semionova. It was a dream made true for her and for me, a father who enjoyed not only the play, but also seeing her face watching that marvelous dance, all the scenes, and the theatre itself. When we came out from Lincoln Center, we went to take a look at the Big Apple's city light from "The Top of the Rock"... I can guess for my daughter it will be one of the five most unforgettable days of her entire life, and I'm sure it is one of mine. So, my best regards for all the people who make ABT in your celebration!
Osvaldo Trossero
Paraná, Argentina

My first experience with ABT was actually at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA. It was a performance of Giselle, which was absolutely gorgeous. However, my first performance at the Met was of Onegin in 2013. I absolutely, completely loved the production. I was completely pulled into the story, absolutely captivated by the dancing, the movements, and emotions. It had been a while since I wanted to cry for the characters in any sort of story, and I was very close to tears.
Irene Liao
Durham, NC

Every performance carries with it the sense of excitement and awe, from the moment I step into the magnificent Metropolitan Opera House to the raising of the chandeliers and the first orchestral notes. Then the curtain rises on the splendor of the scene, be it Giselle, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Le Corsaire, La Bayadère, Romeo and Juliet, or in recent years Manon and Lady of the Camellias. The moment when the curtain rises is always a thrill. Over the last 10 years or so, the principals who have electrified the stage for me have been Julie Kent in any dramatic ballet, Marcelo Gomes in everything he does, Gillian Murphy for technical brilliance and musicality, and Ethan Stiefel for being the great quintessentially American dancer that he was. But I can't complete this form without mentioning the Baryshnikov years, especially his innovative partnership with Twyla Tharp. No modern ballet has been better than or since Push Comes to Shove. Thank you for giving me so many years of the very best culture that New York has to offer. It takes me two hours door to door to come in from Connecticut for a performance, and it's worth every moment of my time.
Anonymous
Woodbridge, CT

I took my then fiancé to see a ballet. Fernando Bujones danced. He leapt into my fiancées heart, such that we enjoyed the ballet together for many years to come. I have enjoyed so many "firsts" at the ABT. My first professional ballet was The Nutcracker. My daughter's first professional ballet was The Nutcracker as well. My 50th birthday was celebrated with Coppélia, and my 60th, Romeo and Juliet. When I think of celebrations, I think of ABT.
Denise Budnitz
Baltimore, MD

My daughter (5 years old) and I saw a performance of Cinderella at the Metropolitan Opera House in NY. It was magical for her. I enjoyed it as well. The dancing was amazing and so enjoyable. We just saw The Nutcracker at BAM, and my daughter cried at the end because she enjoyed the ballet so much, she didn't want it to end.
Sonia Silva
Brooklyn, NY

I first saw American Ballet Theatre as a young ballet student growing up in the Washington, D.C. area. I saw them perform at the Kennedy Center and remember buying an ABT sweatshirt that I wore to shreds as I grew up. About 10 years ago, my husband and I became subscribers of the Kennedy Center's ballet series, and we saw Gillian Murphy and Angel Corella perform in Swan Lake the night that PBS was taping the performance. We were absolutely star-struck by their performances that night, and we felt like we witnessed history in terms of ballet dancing at its best. Flash-forward to April 2013, and our daughter, Rachel, had the good fortune to be chosen as a supernumerary in the Le Jardin Animé scene of ABT's Le Corsaire at The Kennedy Center. She had the life changing experience of performing with so many of ABT's esteemed company members, and one of the highlights of her lifetime was being able to speak with and dance with our idol, Gillian. Gillian graciously posed for photos, signed countless shoes and programs for all of the young dancers and was such a generous brand ambassador for ABT. Meeting one's idol is one thing; witnessing her kindness and genuine warmth of spirit is another and something our daughter would not forget.
Deanna Nelson
Great Falls, VA

I attended Le Corsaire - I had seen online performances of the ballet so I had high expectations for my first ever ballet. I attended with my mother and sister, it was a sort of girls’ night out, and I can definitely say that Le Corsaire exceeded all my expectations - the dancers, the costumes, the set - it was all magical. It has become a special moment when my sister and I can bond over our love for the art of dance. So far we've seen Le Corsaire, Coppélia and Swan Lake and are looking forward to so many more.
Ashley Tulloch
Brooklyn, NY

ABT has always been known for presenting a complete lavish performance starting with its dancers and including sets, costumes and never to forget the live orchestra. My girls both attended several ABT summer programs and as a parent, I thought the programs were dance experiences that would stay with them a lifetime.
Phyllis Salta
New York, NY

My first time at an ABT performance was during the summer of 1973 when we were guests of friends. I don't remember the program but I remember that Eric Bruhn was performing. It was a wonderful experience. But what stands out in my memory are the many performances I saw during the mid ‘70s when Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland partnered in many ballets. Those performances were magical. He was energetic and artistic, and she was a fluid and flexible dancer who projected so much emotion and artistry. They were special occasions, and I was glad to be able to be there.
Anonymous
Kew Gardens, NY

Having saved all my pennies for a long time to be able to buy a plane ticket to NYC (all the way from Brazil) and finally attend, for the first time, a performance of the beloved ABT (November 2013), I felt like I was on cloud nine - most definitely on top of the world!!! I cried half the time, amazed by the brilliant performances, and then I was completely moved by the beautiful music, the wonderful choreography, the expertise of the orchestra and the impossible perfection of Polina Semionova. I'll never, ever forget that amazing experience!!! Simple perfection on every level: brilliant performers and wondrous works.
Anonymous
Curitiba, Brazil

The first performance that I saw was when I was a little girl. I remember being completely mesmerized by Swan Lake. It was pure magic! One of the highlights of my life (seriously!) was being a supernumerary in The Sleeping Beauty at the Shrine in Los Angeles and at the (then named) Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA. I will never forget the experience of being on stage with my favorite dancers night after night! It was a very special gift.
Konnie Gault
Santa Barbara, CA

I attended my first ABT performance early in 1980. I had been offered a position on the rehearsal staff as a choreologist and joined the Company on January 1st that year. I was "blown away" by the dancers’ energy and passion on stage! The way they used their bodies and formidable techniques to express their characters and emotions, individuality and style - such artistes. They were American, and it was great theatre! There was also a real sense of "a Company" - that each person gave their all and cared about each other, which made one feel a great sense of belonging to a special family.
Wendy Walker
Melbourne, Australia

When I was in my teens, I had the privilege of seeing Ivan Nagy and Natalia Makarova in Giselle during ABT's tour to Berkeley, California in the 1970s. There was a part in the second act when Makarova hopped in arabesque across the floor held by Nagy. It was the most breathtaking thing that I had ever seen. Makarova seemed to float across the stage, and the audience went wild. I have never seen any other dancers duplicate the effect. I witnessed the unbelievable performance of ABT's Swan Lake with Cynthia Gregory and Fernando Bujones. Their Act 3 was exquisite, but what brought the house down was when Gregory performed simple lame duck turns holding each turn for so long with the conductor accenting the hold that it seemed that time stopped. Another memorable performance was Gelsey Kirkland and Baryshnikov in Giselle. Gelsey was the ultimate spirit in Act 2 and Baryshnikov's single grand jete en tournant during a musical crescendo had the audience gasping, and his famous brise's across the floor had the audience at the edge of their seats.
Kathleen Rakela
Livingston, MT

I am an orthopaedic and hand surgeon, now 71 years of age, and my wife Dana is a ballet dancer who still takes class almost daily. I am also a flautist, and because I love dance as an art form and became interested in ballet annotation, I took class for some time in years past to "learn the lingo." For many years we have enjoyed ABT during visits to New York City and when they have come to Chicago. My wife has had friends in the company. We have had the opportunity to meet a number of the dancers and Kevin McKenzie over the years. In years past my wife was on the Chicago Committee for ABT. What I remember MOST was being a super in several performances of Giselle at the Auditorium Theatre here in Chicago about 25 or more years ago. I was one of the two men who carried the boar across the stage in the opening scene, and then I emoted as a villager throughout the first act. Since I was in several performances, I was able to see a variety of dancers as Giselle. What a phenomenal experience for a ballet lover - to see all of this up close and personal (I still love that ballet!). I have a wonderful photograph which sits right in the middle of my desk at my orthopaedic office of me in costume!
Michael Treister, M.D.
Chicago, IL

Every year, Ballet Theatre came trekking by bus or train across the US, always stopping at the Eastman Theater, Rochester, NY. They unloaded at the stage door on Swan Street, a narrow lane between ballet and Rochester Philharmonic rehearsal studios and the Eastman School of Music and Theater. These tours were the building blocks as ballet caught fire in America. I can still remember my first ballet performance as Igor Youskevitch escorted Alicia Alonso onto the stage in Giselle, dancing performances for the ages. Aside from the magnificent memories, I wish to thank every single dancer and staffer who made this yearly visit possible. No matter the exhaustion from travel, they gave their all with exquisite performances. And in particular too was John Kriza's exuberant performance in Fancy Free. This was our first glance at Jerome Robbins' amazing talent. To all ABT members past and present, thank you for the inspiration and unforgettable memories.
Eleanor Lange
Manhasset, NY

It was in 2004. I attended a performance of Swan Lake with Paloma Herrera and Marcelo Gomes, who is a Brazilian dancer so I was very excited. I cried from the very beginning, as soon as I heard the first notes from the orchestra, and didn't stop until the last bow from the dancers. I've been to ABT performances two more times since then, but I never forget that first time.
Gisele Jesus
Campinas, Brazil

The first performance that I saw was Don Quixote, and it was amazing! My favorite part was the pas de deux. My first experience attending ABT was at the age of 12 when I attended the Young Dancer Summer Program in New York. I was so excited to be in a place where professionals rehearsed. At the age of 13, I was accepted into the Summer Intensive Program in New York. I loved experiencing the different teachers and making new friends from all over the world. Most importantly, I loved the challenges that each class taught me and how they have made me a stronger dancer. Next summer, I will be attending the Summer Intensive Program in New York as a National Training Scholar. I am thrilled to be returning to the excitement and training of the ABT Summer Program.
Cynthia Ryan
Greenlawn, NY

In 1983 I was living in Southern California and had read much about the ballet Giselle and had seen the Live at Lincoln Center performance of it on TV with Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov, but I was beside myself with excitement to see it live on a stage. I remember my boyfriend coming over to me with the Sunday newspaper to show me the ad for ABT and how they were bringing Giselle to Los Angeles and how I was sobbing tears of joy that I was finally going to be able to see this ballet. I do not remember who performed it on that magical night, but I remember being completely amazed by it. We did return the following year to see Giselle again in Los Angeles with Marianna Tcherkassky, a lovely Giselle, and Fernando Bujones as Albrecht. After that I have never stopped going to ABT, and I'm so thankful that I now live on the Upper West Side and can go all the time!! For me, the Angel Corella years were especially magical. Thank you ABT, I love you.
Adin Dalton
New York, NY

My first time seeing ABT was in the 1970s when you started your residency at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. I would go to the ballet quite often 4 times on the weekend and sometimes evening performances during the week. On the weekends I often went to some sort of lounge area at the Kennedy Center, and I can remember being there at the same times as Daniel Levans, for instance, who had just danced Billy the Kid. I got an autograph from Lucia Chase, and the doorman introduced me to Karena Brock. I was so young and was so impressed and so star struck! I saw Misha Baryshnikov the first time he danced Vestris and can remember being so awed! I went to every performance I could with Ivan Nagy or Ted Kivitt. It was a magical time for me!
Judith Booth
Albuquerque, NM

I was six. It was Texas, 1946 I believe. I still have visions in my brain of what I saw. I believe it was Alicia Markova in Pas de Quatre and a ballet I later identified from photos of its costumes as Le Baiser de la Fee. I became a dancer because I saw that performance. It was a world of beauty I knew I needed to be a part of. I had a career in Europe and a teaching career here in the USA. Ballet Theatre, in a sense because of that performance I saw at 6, is the cornerstone of my life. Thank you, Lucia Chase and ABT, especially for continuing to bring us the classics and the greatest dancers from all over the world. Ballet, through which I was introduced from that performance, not only gave me my life but a very, very happy life. I wish you all every continued success and joy. What you bring this world is, as the commercial so aptly says, priceless.
Anonymous

First Performance: I am 85, and it is so long ago. I do remember the feelings of "how could something so magical be real". As a child in Canada I was devoted to the dance - my body totally unsuitable so they gave me the character parts. Now I live vicariously watching my great niece, Skylar Brandt, perform so exquisitely. I fly in from Los Angeles whenever you are in season. ABT is the essence of classical ballet with the ability and taste to still welcome and recognize the excitement of today's choreography. I love it all.
Florrie Shaen
Los Angeles, CA

I would have to go way back into my scrapbook to find the actual program for the first performance, but it was at the beginning of Ballet Theatre's first season!! I do know that I went to every performance I could possibly attend. I think perhaps my favorite was Fokine's Les Sylphides. I also was at the premiere, a little later, of Robbins’ Fancy Free and will never forget that performance in particular. Of course this was all performed at the Old Met, which was really wonderful for viewing ballet. I have followed the company through all the years, and although I never had the opportunity to perform with them, I have remained in the ballet world, dancing, teaching, doing costuming-----and still taking barre!! (I will be 91 years old in April of 2015!!!)
Nancy B. Welch
Westfield, NJ

November 1, 2013 was the very first ABT performance that I attended. I had seen many ballet performances before, but I had never seen such an excited crowd. At first I could not understand why the crowd would roar when there was nothing exciting happening on the stage. I soon realized that they were cheering in support of each of their favorite Principals and Soloists as they entered the stage for the first time. I could see that there was something very special about this ballet company and how it connects to the people of New York. In 2013, our daughter attended the ABT JKO School’s Summer Intensive in New York. We decided that while she was in town it would be a good idea to also do a second intensive with one of the more diverse companies so that she could have the experience of being comfortable and free to dance in her own brown skin. We did not expect that she was going to find that total acceptance of who she was at ABT, but she did in an effortless way from the very first day. She was able to spread her wings, be at peace with her color and let her curly hair curl. As a result she now dances with all her heart and soul. ABT is a leader in the quest to include total acceptance of the ethnic diversity of our country on multiple levels. Our family has been blessed to experience this happening on a small personal scale as well as in a huge way with a broad national commitment. Words cannot describe our gratitude.
Hermoine Lall
Houston, TX

At age 77 I was finally sitting at the Met to see my first professional ballet. I was like a child with emotions running wild! As a child I used to keep a scrapbook with pictures of ballet dancers and now to actually be sitting at the beautiful Metropolitan Opera House, my heart was pounding. The Bright Stream started, and I was mesmerized and did not come to reality until intermission. I have been to 3 more spring ballets of ABT, and the feeling just never goes away. I am a ballet enthusiast and will be until death. By the way, my daughter goes with me, she also being a ballet enthusiast. I loved Swan Lake and watching Daniil Simkin do his solo. I also enjoy watching Marcelo. Actually, I love all the dancers right down to the very talented corps members. They train so hard and long and all for us, the audience!
Ellie Scotland
Rindge, NH

The first live ABT performance I attended was a gala in July of 1986, featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev. The dancing was, needless to say, amazing. And then I crashed the after-performance dinner, at least until everyone sat down to eat (I hope the statute of limitations has run!) and ended up close enough to Gene Kelly to get a smile. Be still, my heart...! I've been a friend of ABT since 1986, and even though I only lived in New York City for five years, being a friend has let me feel like a part of the Company and the city I love. And my favorite memory is of supering in Swan Lake the first time Nina Ananiashvili and Julio Bocca danced the lead roles together. I was standing right behind the Queen's throne when Nina danced the most incredible Black Swan solo I have ever seen - doubling every single fouette turn, tripling the ones that were supposed to be doubles, doing it all on a dime and giving back seven cents change. I don't think there was a single mouth on that stage that wasn't hanging open when she was done, and I have never heard an audience react the way the audience did that night. And Julio stared along with the rest of us, then went and had a word with the conductor and revisited his own solo at something like double tempo. Just amazing. And I had one of the very best "seats" in the house.
Susan Swann
New Hope, MN

I think it was 1947-48 that I saw my first Ballet Theatre performance. I don't remember what it was, but it was at the old Met on 39th Street. I may have had standing room because I remember Fernand Nault talking to people in the intermission and telling them he had brought back "Crepe de Chine" perfume from Mexico for Alicia Alonso. ABT is a unique company because of its combination of classical dance and the drama and emotion of the theatre. In the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, I lived in LA and worked at the Music Center part of that time. I still loved ABT. Kevin and Martine were two of the dancers from that era. I have been back in NY for 9 years, and I am still in my seat when the curtain goes up. I have never lost my love for ABT, and I never will.
Anonymous
Brooklyn, NY

My first performance with American Ballet Theatre was when I saw La Bayadère with Gillian Murphy playing Nikiya and Cory Stearns playing Solor. I went with my sister and best friend, and we made friends with a tourist who had decided on a whim to go to the ballet by himself. It was a great night of fantastic dancing. I look to the ABT Spring season at Lincoln Center every year. I always joke to my friends that it is my Christmas because of how happy it makes me. I gush over the amazing productions I have seen and your dancers as if they were rock stars and movie stars. I love Gillian Murphy, Polina Semionova, Hee Seo, and of course seeing Natalia Osipova dance was a real treat. Marcelo Gomes and David Hallberg are also fantastic. I got to see Ethan Stiefel's last performance in Le Corsaire and felt great to be a part of that moment. ABT is perfection to me.
Mariely Gonzalez
Ozone Park, NY

We were planning my birthday. It was not one of those important ones that end in “zero,” but it had to be spectacular because it would be our last in New York. In a few weeks, Dave and I would be moving to Los Angeles. After endless discussions about events, restaurants and free stuff that would constitute a perfect New York farewell, we finally settled on the ballet. “American Ballet Theatre is performing Swan Lake at the Met,” I said. “It doesn’t get any better than that.” Dave volunteered to pick up the tickets, but the next day he called to say that the June 19 performance of Swan Lake was sold out. I thought for a moment. “Then let’s just go to Lincoln Center. We’ll go early. Get dressed up in our Gatsby clothes and watch people from the café outside Avery Fisher Hall.” We had no Plan B, but nature indulged us. June 19 was a beautiful day. We were enjoying our first drink, toasting my birthday and our move to LA. It was a sweet moment, so I was confused when Dave suddenly put down his drink and excused himself. I saw him hurrying to the Metropolitan Opera Building across the way where in a few minutes, the chandeliers would rise toward the ceiling, the house lights would dim, the orchestra would begin to play and the dancers would assume their poses. The next time I saw Dave, however, he was running across the plaza waving a small white envelope. I reached out as he raised both his arms in a victory salute. He twirled me around before he gave me the envelope. I grabbed it and looked –two tickets for the best seats in the house: Row J, center orchestra. We were just on time and from the first note of the overture, I was electrified. My whole body tingled. I closed my eyes and when I opened them, I was surprised to find my glasses fogged up and tears running down my face. I choked and tried to keep from crying at the wonderment of it. We settled in, enjoying every minute, celebrating at intermission with a farewell glass of champagne. And then came the second act. If we’d been pleased with the fairy tale of the first act, we were stunned by the dancing of the second. How could one not respond to the pleas of the swans? The solos, the pas de deux, the sad fluttery wings expressing the terrible anguish of Siegfried, Odette and Odile. I had entered their magical space and held onto it fiercely. I wanted to never let it go, to never leave the magic of the ABT, of ballet or the magic of New York. My heart hurt as I contemplated this inevitable – and necessary -- loss. Dave and I stood in our center orchestra seats until the last curtain had been called and the last musical note had echoed through the building. “It’s so beautiful,” I said. “I’ll miss it so much.” Dave put his arm around my shoulder and joked: “Don’t worry, Judes, no swans were harmed in the production of this ballet.”
Judy Anderson