Sunday, June 21, 2015

Julie Kent Bids Farewell to ABT

Julie Kent, who for many ballet fans represent the epitome of the all-American ballerina, bid farewell to her artistic home, American Ballet Theater, after an amazing 29 year career with the company. She chose Sergei Prokofiev's demanding Romeo and Juliet for her swan song, and with her partner for the evening, principal dancer Roberto Bolle, she gave her all in a passionate performance that at times seemed the work of a much younger artist, while at the same time it was obvious that her Juliet came with a lifetime of technique, experience, and elegance.

It was a sold-out audience that was there to celebrate Ms. Kent's career, and her entrance in the second scene of Act I caused such a deafening roar that it must have been difficult for the performers to hear the music. As the evening went on, her flawless performance turned into a love fest for the audience. It was truly a perfect evening for her, and for the rest of the company, and one of the highlights of this year's ABT season.

The ovation at the end of the evening went on for close to twenty minutes.  The great curtain of the Metropolitan Opera parted and the assembled cast, each with a flower in hand, tossed them in her direction, while petals rained down from the rafters.  Meanwhile in the audience not a single soul left the place, and everyone remained on their feet. Then, there was the parade of colleagues onstage, all bearing flowers, positioning them in the middle of the stage, creating a mountain of flora. These included Xiomara Reyes and Paloma Herrera, who earlier in the season had their very own memorable ABT farewells. One of the last to pay her tribute was ABT's Associate Artistic Director Victor Barbee, a former dancer with ABT, and Ms. Kent's husband. There were some tender ovation moments as her children William and Josephine shared the stage with their mom.

It was an evening that few will forget, but as ABT finishes the last two weeks of the season, I'm sure that on everybody's mind is the question of who will fill the spots of these three artists who were so much an integral part of the company.  It promises to be a very interesting 2016 season.

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