On Sunday afternoon, principal ballerina Yvonne Borree gave her farewell performance at New York City Ballet. I always find farewell performances so sad, especially for the ballerinas, for some reason. And Yvonne just doesn’t seem old enough to retire! At all.
Anyway, it was a really lovely program and she looked beautiful. She danced the third, “Andante,” movement in Balanchine’s Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet. She was partnered by Benjamin Millepied, a very good partner for her, as she looks very comfortable dancing with him, and when they first took the stage, the audience really went wild with applause — and really wouldn’t let up! That’s uncommon for NYCB fans – even with a farewell performance; they usually save their applause until the very end. And the applause wasn’t just clapping; people were really whooting and screaming and calling out “Yvonne, Yvonne!” I think I am not the only one who will miss her. At the end of each section, she got more applause and at the end of Brahms, she and Millepied got three curtain calls. She deserved it. And he did too — I think Natalie Portman is giving him some acting lessons because he’s really doing much better, not just dancing (he’s always been a good dancer) but really projecting as well.
Then came Wheeldon’s new Estancia, which grew on me. I think the dancers found the humor in it — or maybe they did before and I was paying too much attention to the choreography to notice, but it seemed they really vamped it up, with Tyler Angle failing hilariously miserably at taming Andrew Veyette’s “horse,” letting Veyette get away after Tiler Peck roped him all up nicely, then Tyler being felled and rolling around the floor, nearly sweeping Tiler off her feet (in a bad way). It was really cute. And the dancing is really marvelous.
Then, the performance ended with Yvonne doing a pas de deux with Jared Angle — another good partner for her (for everyone really) – Balanchine’s Duo Concertant, which I love.
I love how the couple interacts with the onstage violinist and pianist, with the music, and with each other, and yet it is at times a very abstract ballet with lots of angular shapes. And the end is gorgeous but bittersweet, as the stage darkens and the spotlight begins to highlight only her, her head, then various parts of her body, ending with her arm, in the air, reaching upward and outward. It almost made me cry.
And of course the applause went on and on, and all of her partners (besides Nikolaj Hubbe unfortunately) came out onstage to give her a bouquet. Damian Woetzel and Peter Boal got the most whoots.
I’ve only been coming to New York City Ballet regularly for about the past three or four years and I feel I didn’t get to see enough of her. My favorite performances of hers are the delicate, ethereal sleepwalker in Balanchine’s La Sonnambula, which I think she danced with Sebastien Marcovici, and in that ballroom-esque ballet with the art deco mirror of Peter Martins that I love but no one shares my feelings about … Can’t think of what it’s called right now but she was always Nilas Martins’s partner. I loved it. And now, my other favorite of hers is Duo Concertant, which I’d never seen her dance before.
Apparently, she’ll still be around. According to Oberon, she’ll stay at NYCB’s School of American Ballet and teach.
Photos by Paul Kolnik.