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New York City Ballet's Dance with the Dancers 2005

by Robert Abrams
June 13, 2005
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023
212.875.5456

New York City Ballet's Dance with the Dancers 2005

New York State Theatre
New York, NY

www.nycballet.org

Robert Abrams
June 13, 2005

Those in the know regard the New York City Ballet's Dance with the Dancers benefit as the party of the year. They lived up to their reputation once again, presenting a party with the theme of the glamour of Cannes, an evening on the Riviera. About half of the male attendees were in black tie, and the other half were dressed up as one might find in France: several white suits with open collared shirts, an orange suit that took some daring to wear, and among other creative options, a suit covered in crushed beer cans. The women were either glamourous or scintillating.

The party started at 8 pm with cocktails on the New York State Theatre balcony. The featured drink was Alize, a combination of vodka and cognac that comes in two flavors, orange (wild passion) and blue. The blue flavor doesn't appear to have any ingredients that would justify it being blue, so I can only assume the drink was dreamed up as a concept in the marketing department. Fortunately, the stuff also has flavor.

It was a hot, humid sweltering evening, so they had less trouble than usual getting people to come inside for dinner. They served white gazpacho (a good choice given the weather) with grapes and almond crostini, wood fired skirt steak with sauce vierge, rosemary and scallion potatoes and sautéed haricots verts. This was followed up with mini ice cream cones in various flavors.

The dancers of the New York City Ballet presented a Gershwin-esque take on beaches and movie premieres. They managed to include all of the film archetypes, including producers, leading ladies and comic foils. As is typical of NYCB's stage performances, even though this was a skit, they worked well as an ensemble, such as when the beach beauties lay on their towels and pedaled their legs rapidly in the air.

By the time they got to the ice cream after the performance, most of the attendees were on the dance floor, so the servers threaded their way through the revelry and delivered the cones in person. Kind of like refueling an airplane in flight.

In the past, the music played was mostly hustle-conducive. This year they broke with tradition and varied the music so that it included more hip hop and club music. There was still music you could hustle to but it was less prevalent. I came alone to the event this year, but still managed to find people to dance with. This is an event that combines danceable music with serious energy. As evidence, the dance floor filled up quickly after the performance was over and kept going strong until the end of the music around 1 am.

I had the great honor of dancing with Carrie Lee Riggins at the end of the night. She was wearing a white dress with vertical scalloped cinches. Even set amidst all of the rest of the gathering's fabulousness, this was an outfit that set the pace for style. Her dancing was at least equal to her outfit. She proved that the New York City Ballet can dance. Sure, we already knew they could dance choreography en pointe, but that is only half of the heart of dance. The other half is improvisation, which from a social dance perspective is the real thing.

The whole evening was inspiring. One couple even came from Chicago just to attend. Make sure to get your ticket for next year. It is a little pricey at $300 a ticket, but it is worth it. And to keep your calendar filled up with other worthwhile NYCB events, consider joining Society in C.


NYCB's Dance with the Dancers 2005 - the gathering gets down
Photo courtesy of Robert Abrams

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