New York City Ballet’s Spring Gala kicked off on May 8 with a crush of limos disgorging socialites in spring finery, including one woman in a fluffy pink gown so huge she could barely squeeze into the lobby. Bored husbands hovered in their tuxes.
Onstage, an early Christopher Wheeldon ballet, “Soiree Musicale” to music by Samuel Barber, mobilized a dozen men, 10 of them from the corps, to tango with soloist Brittany Pollack. Wheeldon’s latest, the pretty duet “A Place for Us” for Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild, paired ornate movement with virtuoso playing by clarinetist Richard Stoltzman and pianist Nancy McDill.
The rest was basically snippets: There was a number from “West Side Story Suite” by Jerome Robbins and Peter Gennaro to Leonard Bernstein’s music, a shard from Robbins’ “Glass Pieces” and one song from George Balanchine’s “Who Cares?” featuring guest performer Queen Latifah crooning Gershwin’s “The Man I Love.” The grand finale was bits of Balanchine’s “Stars and Stripes” to John Phillip Sousa marches; Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette paced the mostly young cast.
Afterward, the regal audience dined and danced on the theater’s promenade. Outside the stage door, a select few were standing by to watch Queen Latifah, her tall silver sandals swapped for comfy slippers, hop into a limo and head into the night.
The Spring Gala was a sight, but there’s still more to see from New York City Ballet before the season’s through. The American Music Festival is still running for a limited time, followed by 33 ballets on 21 programs, featuring a new piece by corps member Justin Peck to music by Philip Glass.