Photos by Paul Kolnik (top, of Albert Evans during final curtain call, bottom with Wendy Whelan in Herman Schmerman)
Sunday afternoon longtime beloved principal with NYCBallet, Albert Evans, gave his final performance. He danced two roles he is well-known for – the pas de deux from William Forsythe’s Herman Schmerman, with Wendy Whelan, whom he’s often been partnered with, and Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments (he danced the third variation – “Phlegmatic”). It was perfect – -a humorous, playful pas de deux and a very serious, emotionally moving classic Balanchine ballet. He danced both fabulously. I haven’t seen Herman Schmerman much, and he made me want to see it again. And he danced “Phlegmatic” so well, with such precision and intensity (honestly, better than I remember seeing it danced previously) it made me take notice of a Balanchine ballet I honestly haven’t much liked before.
Also on the program was La Source, a pretty in pink ballet by Balanchine set to Delibes and danced very well by Joaquin de Luz and Megan Fairchild in the pas de deux and Lauren King as leader of the ensemble. I have in my notes “dive!!!” which means Megan must have dove into Joaquin’s arms with brilliant gusto!
And in the middle was The Lady with the Little Dog, a newish ballet by Alexey Miroshnichenko that premiered last season, danced again very well by Sterling Hyltin and Andrew Veyette. I think they re-staged and / or re-thought it a bit because it seemed so much better this time. I remember liking parts of it last time; I really loved it this time. The lifts are stunning and it’s very emotionally moving with lots of climactic build-up. I think it’s more focused on the couple this time and the “angels” are more functional and less involved in the choreography and I think that made a big difference. I always love Sterling’s little dog. This time he (or she?) wanted to be picked up a lot.
Anyway, Albert Evans is quite the character and his curtain call was probably the most celebratory I’ve seen at City Ballet. I said on Twitter that it was of Julio Bocca-esque proportions! Of course everyone – audience and the dancers – loves him, and many of the female dancers came out and did a little dance with him when giving him their bouquet. He did several little goofy dances himself, with lots of Rocky Horror Picture Show-style pelvic thrusts. He picked up one of his bouquets and flung it out to the audience. Then, he took off his shoes. Oh and he had a glass of champagne, brought out by a group of male principals. See, what I mean – Julio Bocca all over again! Crowd went wild, and didn’t want to leave the theater.
Since it was a nice day, after the performance I sat outside on the benches near the stage door with Oberon and we waited for Albert to emerge. He never did! Well, he probably did after several hours – Philip and I imagined he was getting plastered with Wendy Whelan and Maria Kowroski (neither of whom emerged either during the time we sat there) and his other regular female partners. A good hour after we’d been sitting out, a dancer came out and talked with Philip a bit and told him she just saw Albert inside yakking it up with everyone and he was still in his ballet clothes. So we decided we’d be waiting all night and we’d better leave. Did get to meet a lot of dancers though — all very charming and immensely polite and gentlemanly! Amar Ramasar, Robert Fairchild, Troy Schumacher (who made me want to dig back into Proust – have the tomes of his work but have never gotten around to cracking them open), Craig Hall, Tiler Peck, Abi Stafford… those are the ones I can remember. Fun day!
For more on Evans’s career, Oberon has a really good write-up with lots of photos.