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Thanks so much Phillip for your report. Hayden was before my time and like you I first got to know her from the Balanchine Ballerina's video. She impressed me with her fiery devotion, strength and wisdom. She was never "The Muse" in the long list of Balanchine's muses. Not the way that Farrell or Diana Adams was. But he made many important ballets on her and she was "The Ballerina" at NYCB while many of the muses left, got married or faded away. I'm glad she got her tribute last night, and any night that Jacques D'Amboise is onstage at The State Theater is a good night. As for the moaning interuption during Liebeslieder, it would have been anoying during any ballet but for it to have happened during this one! You can really reach a mental state of grace during this ballet, I'm sorry yours was interupted!

Bob Arrigon

Amen to all that you said. I thought that last night's program was one of the best of this or any other NYCB season. You could not ask for a better variety of Balanchine ballets or better performances by the dancers. Yes, the poor woman in the wheelchair with her moaning (she happened to be sitting at the end of the orchestra row in which I was seated)was a distraction but I managed to overcome that and stay focussed on the first part of Liebeslieder. And you are right - Liebeslieder is not for everyone - at first sight it might seem repetitious to some - but I think it is perhaps the most beautiful and exquisite of all the BAlanchine ballets. Years ago, I heard a dance critic (I think it was Anna Kisselgoff) say at a seminar that Liebeslieder was her favorite Balanchine ballet. At the time, I had not seen the ballet and I was saying to myself - what? Better than Apollo, Agon, Cocerto Barocco, Symphony in C, Jewels? Then I saw the ballet for the first time and since then I have seen it many times and I understand perfectly what that critic was saying. It unquestionably now ranks for me in the top two or three among all my BAlanchine favorites. When I watch it, I feel transported to another world.

I thought the performances last night were extraordinary across the board. As you noted, there is no way to capture in words the beauty of the divine four (Kyra, Darci, Wendy and Miranda) in Liebeslieder and the men were marvelous as well. Megan and Sebastian were superb in Square Dance and as for Stars & STripes, I have seen that ballet countless times over the years, and last night may have been the best I have EVER seen it danced. Ashley, of course, was all-world and Andrew matched her. But in addition to them, as you noted, Abi was terrific and Sterling (one of the best performances in the first regiment I've ever seen) and Danny were truly exceptional.

What a night! And Jacques and memories of Melissa (whom I sadly never saw dance, except in that video you mentioned) too.


PS You were right about Ethan and Gillian - they were seated in my row (about 5 or 6 seats to the left of me) but I didn't see Paloma.


Wish I would have been aware that this was a tribute to Millie. It seems as if it wasn't publicized at all (I didn't see any mention on the website.) Having trained under Millie for four years I am sure she was looking down giving her wry comments throughout the evening. As for Jacques....he gave what I imagine was a similar speech at Millie's memorial in October. While it rambled, it was touching nonetheless. I am having major memories of Ms. Hayden screaming while rehearsing us for "Stars" while I was at NCSA! Thanks for sharing this evening :-) I recently posted my thoughts on a few City Ballet performances on my blog as well.


P.S. Thank you for sharing the picture as well. What fierce beauty she was. I keep a truly stunning picture of her from rehearsal during "The Cage" at my spot in the dressing room but had never seen this one before.


It is great to see all these comments here; thank you for reading AND responding Perky, Bob and M.

LIEBESLIEDER is a ballet I think one can best enjoy about once every three years which is about how often they do it. The first half can be a bit 'same-y' even with a great cast, but once those toe shoes go on it is pure heaven.

M, I agree it is too bad they didn't publicize that this would be a Hayden tribute evening. I think there are lots of people who would have attended had they known. And they would have seen NYCB dancing just about at its best into the bargain.

Two of the stories Jacques told were especially great, in different ways. He mentioned that on his 16th birthday Millie gave him a kiss and promised to kiss him every day for a year. Amd she did; but after a couple of weeks she came in one day and gave him endless kisses and said: "That will hold you til you're 17th birthday and maybe then you'll get SOMETHING ELSE!"

At the end of his speech, he told about making the trip down to visit her when she was hospitalized. On entering her room, she removed her oxygen mask and said: "Jacques! You've come for my last dance!" You could hear the whole audience start quietly sobbing.

I'm going to watch that Balanchine Ballerina tape again tomorrow. Rarely have I so strongly felt that I was simply 'born too late', at least in balletic terms.

Bob Arrigon

As always, your comments are extremely perceptive and thought-provoking but I must respectfully disagree with your appraisal of Liebeslieder as a ballet best enjoyed about once every three years and your crtique of the first part as "a bit same-y." I know that Part I does seem to be somewhat same-y but I honestly think that underlying its apparent sameness is a wealth of choreographic variety (endless subtle and delicate variations on the waltz, if you will)that is a testament to Balanchine's genius. I recall that the famed dance critic John Martin once wrote of Liebeslieder that "nothing at all happens - nothing, that is, but the constant revelation of beauty."

I actually saw Liebeslieder twice on Tuesday - first at the dress rehearsal in the afternoon and then later at the actual performance in the evening. Not only did I not tire of it but I enjoyed it even more at the evening performance. And to tell the truth, I would love to go back and see it again tomorrow evening but given the fact that I'm going in for the Friday evening and Sunday matinee programs and that I live out in Eastern Suffolk County, well, I just have to draw the "travel into the city"
line somewhere.

So perhaps the distraction of that unfortunate incident in the orchestra negatively affected your experience of Part I even more than you realized. Or perhaps I'm just a hopeless romantic when it comes to both parts of Liebeslieder and I'm seeing things in Part I that are not really there. Or perhaps, and most likely, it's just a case of an honest disagreement. In any event, what we CAN agree on is that we both love Part II and that whether Part I is good or not so-good, Part II is clearly still superior to it.



There's no disagreement at all; I feel as you do about the work. I do think it is not an 'everyday' ballet; it's too special and therefore more potent if seen somewhat rarely. Seeing it twice in one day might be almost too poignant an experience for me.

The audience distractions on Tuesday would have spoiled any ballet for me but the fact that it was LIEBESLIEDER made it really unfortunate.

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