NEW YORK - New York City Ballet principal dancer Lauren Lovette floated down the sidewalk outside Lincoln Center on the Upper West Side on Tuesday evening. She had good reason to: the New York City Ballet returned after going dark during the coronavirus pandemic.
"No matter what happens — whether it's a perfect show or whether it's just a bunch of dancers fighting for their lives, I hope the audience takes away the realism of it all," Lovette said.
This will be the 29-year-old dancer's final season — she is retiring from the New York City Ballet after leaving home at 14 to pursue her dreams. She told me this building in Lincoln Center is her home, the company a family. Lauren is thrilled her final season will have a live audience.
"We are back in that moment, and it's so special — just the touch of a hand against another, to be able to embrace and to throw yourself into your partner's arms and be lifted into the air," Lauren said. "Those are things to be cherished and hold on to, and I hope the audience can feel that, too."
Artistic director Jonathan Stafford said opening night brings up many emotions for him — ones he hopes the audience will feel, too.
I'm anxious, I'm worried, I'm feeling all of the emotions of returning to our likelihoods, really, that we had to give up for 18 long months," he said.
The performances will move from serious and sentimental to overwhelming joy. Dancers will perform classic dances and work from newer choreographers.
"It's a thrill — it's an historic night," Stafford said.
Safety protocols are in place. Audience members must be vaccinated and wear masks inside.
Lauren Lovette's farewell performances are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 9. The season runs through Sunday. Oct. 17.
New York City Ballet | David H. Koch Theater | 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10023 | 212-496-0600 | nycballet.com