|Ariana Lallone in Lambarena|
It was a spectacular evening of dance showcasing the multi-faceted talents of these dancers. Stacy Lowenberg danced in Agon and her own choreographic piece, Rushed Goodbye. She and the stage were showered with flowers and after numerous curtain calls, the show had to be delayed while all the flowers were swept up.
Jeffrey Stanton danced in Petite Mort, Agon, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, Who Cares and brought down the house in his Fred Astaire-like dancing in Silver Lining. His dance partners past and present brought flowers for him and joined him during the thunderous applause onstage including gorgeous Patricia Barker in a bright red cocktail dress, whom I still miss seeing onstage now several years after her retirement. He was also honored onstage by PNB Artistic Director, Peter Boal, and PNB Founding Artistic Directors, Kent Stowell and Francia Russell.
Neither Stanko Milov or Olivier Wevers danced. Stanko has been recovering from an injury for almost the past two years so we had to make do with our memories of him along with a few photos and snippets of video featuring Stanko dancing with Ariana. Olivier presented Monster, his choreographic piece which premiered in his new dance company, Whim W'Him earlier this year and the audience responded enthusiastically. He was joined on stage and presented with massive bouquets of flowers by Peter Boal, Francia Russell, Kent Stowell, Kaori Nakamura and Lucien Postlewaite.
Biggest focus of the evening was for Ariana Lallone, who danced in Petite Mort, Rubies, Carmen, and Lambarena. A film showed snippets of her dancing in dozens of ballets during her PNB career with Stanko Milov, Olivier Wevers, Jeffrey Stanton, Karel Cruz, Bathurel Bold, Christophe Maraval, among many others. Before she took the stage for the final time to dance Lambarena, choreographer Val Caniparoli, talked about how much Ariana has meant to him as she has danced the roles he has created, with some created especially for her. She danced joyfully and brilliantly and at the conclusion of Lambarena, was rewarded with tumultuous applause and a standing ovation. It took two strong men to bring a giant basket of flowers to center stage for her and then artistic directors, dancers, past dance partners, staff members, and friends joined her onstage each bringing massive floral bouquets in recognition of her amazing career.
As Founding Co-Artistic Director, Francia Russell, said it so well in the beautiful keepsake program, "It is both wonderful and painful to be celebrating the eight dancers who end their careers with PNB tonight. The evolution of an arts institution inevitably includes saying goodbye to people who have been important parts of its very fabric-in some cases, builders of the Company."
Having served on the PNB Board for 17 years and as Chairman of the Board for five years, I am invested in the careers of each of the dancers retiring and in my mind, they are all "my" dancers. You have brought magic to all who have seen you perform! Brava! Bravo!