Yesterday afternoon, Philip Neal gave his farewell performance with New York City Ballet.  He’s been a principal with the company since 1993. He danced two of Balanchine’s most beautiful ballets — Serenade (photo above, with Jenifer Ringer), and Chaconne (below, with Wendy Whelan). In Serenade, he danced the part of the guy whom the fallen girl falls for, and he danced the main male lead in Chaconne. He and Wendy danced so beautifully in that. It was the absolutely perfect  ballet to end your career with.

Sandwiched in between those two ballets were excerpts from Balanchine’s Who Cares? with the main roles danced by  Sterling Hyltin as the snazzy girl in purple, Tiler Peck as the dreamy romantic girl, Ana Sophia Scheller as the quick-footed flirty girl, and Robert Fairchild as the poor guy who can’t choose between them. I can’t imagine anyone more perfect for that role than Robert Fairchild, though I’m told Neal danced the role himself earlier in his career and I can totally see him in that.

I remember him best as “Mr. Danger” who leads Janie Taylor to darkness in Balanchine’s La Valse, and of course as the happy hoofer smitten by Maria Kowroski’s stripper in Balanchine’s Slaughter on Tenth. And now I’ll think of him – with Wendy Whelan – in Chaconne as well.

I am told that he’s now moving to Palm Beach, FL with his partner. Lucky!

Photos by Paul Kolnik.

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