An Amazing Surprise in New York City!
18 June 2010
Since moving to Boise two years ago, I had not been back to New York City, my hometown. So after the company finished this season and the Academy Year-End Performance had taken place, I felt it was a good time to make the trip and catch up. I love Boise, but there's nothing like New York! I saw lots of good friends, old friends, professional friends, teachers and dancers, and even new friends and got right back into the pace of the city. The School of American Ballet gave its annual workshop performances and they were amazing. The SAB performances are more like New York's 3rd professional company, the dancers were so accomplished. Heather Hawk, an alumnus of the school, was with me at the matinee and we saw a fantastic performances of two Balanchine ballets, Valse Fantasie and Bouree Fantasque, both beautifully danced. Bouree has always been one of my favorite obscure Balanchine works -- it's a comedy, which is rare for him, but also looks like a speeded-up Dior fashion show from the 1950s! It's so beautifully dressed, so witty, elegant, stylish, and full of great good humor ---- and that nutty music by Chabrier!! Perhaps the highlight of the trip was re-connecting with my old colleague and friend, Misha Baryshnikov. We hadn't seen each other in a long time. He looks great! Heather and I went to visit him at the Baryshnikov Arts Center on Wet 37th St. It's a building he founded as a center for new dance, new music, new ideas. A splendid building with two theatres and lots of big bright open studios. Misha likes to come in and warm himself up privately and he often entertains friends and colleagues in the studio while he works out. Heather had not seen him since they were both in New York City Ballet together so that was a nice re-union. We were having a great time catching up on our projects, sharing recent stories about family and friends, remembering choreographers and dancers were both knew, talking about the future. Misha was eager to know all about Ballet Idaho and was very happy to hear how well we're doing. I invited him to come out here and visit us next season --- he's a BIG FISHERMAN and I know he would have a great time fishing in Idaho! Then something really amazing happened. He was telling us about a new solo that Alex Ratmansky had choreographed for him --- he was about to fly to LA to dance it later that week. He simply asked Heather and I if we would like to see it and, in disbelief, we said, Sure! So he turned the music on and for the next 12 minutes we had a private command performance by one of the world's greatest dancers! He suddenly lost all age and infirmity and was the old Misha again. It was beautiful, touching, sweet, funny, melancholy, exciting, full of energy and brilliance. The solo is danced to Glinka's Valse Fantasie --- yes, exactly the same music Balanchine had choreographed and that SAB was dancing uptown. But this version was a story ---- a young man meets a woman he falls madly in love with. They are separated and many years go by. He comes back one day and meets her again ---- he thinks he still loves her, but too much time has passed, they have become different people, yet he has deep and confused feelings about her. It ends sadly, but with irony. There's a lot of old-fashioned mime in this solo, beside some brilliant dancing. Heather was astounded by the way Misha did the mime --- it's his heritage, of course --- it's what he learned as a student in Russia. He does it so simply and directly, so beautifully. It just flows out of him like the dancing --- and this is what mime is supposed to be. It's supposed to be MUSICAL! And that's exactly how he made it look. The solo is brilliant ---- I didn't even get the name of it, we were just so enthralled by Misha's performance and by the overwhelming generosity of him dancing it for us alone. We applauded, of course, then talked a bit more. Heather and I came out into the hot and humid New York sidewalks and floated our way across town. It was a stunning and unique experience and we were on a cloud for the rest of that day. Oh, and I got back in touch with my shopping gene ---- New York is one of the greatest shopping cities in the world and I put a lot of dents in my wallet....but who wouldn't? Coming back to Boise, I did feel like I was returning to my home. If you go to New York in the summertime you will gain a new appreciation for the dry climate we enjoy here ----- and you will NEVER complain about traffic again! -Peter Anastos