Post by Tricia Albertson, Principal Dancer
Oh, 2011, what a whirlwind of a year! There was no time to reflect, barely time to rehearse, yet, for me, just enough time for some of the most exciting and gratifying of MCB experiences. The standouts for me were three particular ballets and one mind-blowing month in Paris.
Having danced for MCB for almost 14 years, I have performed most of our repertoire. In my very first season we performed Scotch Symphony; I was second-cast of the corps. I remember watching Deanna Seay rehearse the Sylph-like principal and admiring her lyricism and control as she rolled through her beautiful feet in the romantic pas de deux, and then fly around in the 3rd movement in some of Balanchine’s most bravura dancing. It was a role I had loved to watch from the corps. As a soloist, I imagined dancing many roles, but never the Sylph in Scotch Symphony; I never thought I suited the role. Then, in 2011, I was privileged to dance the Sylph, and was forced to move outside of my comfort zone. I felt so lucky for the chance to grow.
Then, there was Promethean Fire. I always find myself having the most fun in Paul Taylor works. He’s a genius with a sense of whimsy and a musicality that I appreciate. When I found out Patrick Corbin was coming to stage Promethean I desperately wanted to be in it. Patrick is one of the very best to work with. He loves dance, and has a deep sense of the artistry beyond mere technique. The central pas de deux that I ended up dancing is slow, dramatic, and weighty, the opposite of what I’m typically cast to dance. As it was originally choreographed on Patrick, he shared with us every intricate detail and idea behind each step. On a personal level, he helped me explore a new way of moving, in a non-balletic language, and his positive feedback gave me the courage to be less hesitant and to really go for things. I cherished every show of that work.
When I was 12, NYCB had a Balanchine Celebration on PBS. My mom taped it and I think I watched it everyday after school for about a year. The pas de deux in Theme and Variations had such an impact on me. It was a powerful awakening. The musicality spoke to me. It was like no other steps could be put to that music. When I joined MCB, Theme was just being staged here. I danced the corps, and later danced one of the four soloists. When I was called to learn Theme principal last season, I nearly cried! Theme and Variations, one of the most historically challenging and frightening ballets ever! Then, I thought about when I was 12 staring at the TV in awe of this magic in front of me and felt in some way that my life in ballet, my dreams of ballet had come full circle. I got to dance to that music and to dance those steps that belong to that music; I got to be that ballerina.
When I first found out we were definitely going to Paris I thought, “Oh boy, we might be in trouble!” The Paris audience is known to be tough. If they don’t like something, they let you know it. The Paris audience has somewhat been exposed to Balanchine, though not necessarily to the way we do it. Also, just the thought of the workload, 14 ballets in 17 shows was, overwhelming. I convinced myself that the best part of this journey would be getting to experience Paris and if we weren’t appreciated, so be it. I steadied myself for the worst case. Opening night, when the curtain came down to roaring applause and was lifted again and again, and again, curtain call after curtain call, I was blown away! But, still, I thought that response couldn’t possibly last for 3 solid weeks. But it did, and not just for the final ballet of the evening. Every ballet in every show received curtain calls and many received standing ovations. I am so grateful to have been a part of the MCB Parisian debut, and welcomed by the most embracing, warm, and appreciative audience for whom I have ever danced. It was the biggest success MCB has ever seen, and it filled my heart with pride to be a part of it and to share that success with some of my closest friends.