At the conclusion of Tuesday night's performance of La
Bayadere, Kevin McKenzie escorted the ever-glamorous Natalia Makarova to center
stage. It was a remarkable sight - this tiny lady who, as McKenzie reminded us,
40 years ago chose ABT as her new home and went on to make a gigantic impact on
ballet in this country and in virtually every significant classical role.
Ten years into her new homeland, Natasha created the
first western production of La Bayadere based on her memory of performing in The
Kingdom of the Shades and on her own historical research. She re-choreographed
it, rehearsed every role, and starred as Nikiya at the premiere and in many
performances thereafter. For the past 30 years - the precise anniversary being
this Friday, May 21st - Natasha has stood over La Bayadere like a divine
caretaker. How many Shades has she coached and coaxed into delivering the
perfect combination of line, movement, and modesty? Hundreds for sure, maybe
thousands if one considers all the other companies the world over on whom she
has set her version of La Bayadere.
It is always a treat to revisit the memories of special
performances by great artists who always will have our admiration. But our debt
of gratitude to Natasha extends far beyond her individual performances - and
that is what we celebrated this evening.
For the record, Vishneva and Gomes knocked it out of the
ballpark tonight. Haglund bestows this little snake-skin-under-the-bouquet Pump Bump
Award for the terrific performances by one and all: