Albert Evans and Wendy Whelan in Herman Schmerman pas de deux, photo by Paul Kolnik
On Sunday afternoon, after twenty-two years with New York City Ballet, principal dancer Albert Evans took his final bow at the David H. Koch Theater. The warmth, generosity, and grace that defined his performances were evident even when he expressed gratitude to the audience and marveled at the immense applause. As confetti rained down and the company’s dancers joined Evans on stage to present him with flowers, it became clear that he is deeply respected and admired by his colleagues. He spontaneously swung some of the women around amidst laughter and enthusiastically accepted a drink in a silver goblet from two cheering men.
Some of my earliest memories of Evans include his frequent partnership with Wendy Whelan, so it was gratifying to see him perform with her in William Forsythe’s Herman Schmerman pas de deux. This 1992 piece, set to an electronic score by Thom Willems and a bright blue backdrop, is a witty conversation – perhaps even a playful argument – for the two dancers. Evans and Whelan infused every push and pull and every dramatic angle with their unique quirks and mesmerizing fluidity. Halfway through the piece, they both appeared in bright yellow skirts – designed by Versace – that showed them as equals. After a momentary chuckle from the audience upon seeing Evans in a skirt, it became clear that his poise and elegance were stronger than ever.
Albert Evans takes his final bow, photo by Paul Konlik
The program also included a shining performance from Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz in Balanchine’s La Source, along with Lauren King, who gave a pleasant but overly zealous debut. Alexey Miroshnichenko’s The Lady with the Little Dog, which premiered last January, was the lowest point of the afternoon. In spite of Sterling Hyltin’s lovely, expressive performance and Andrew Veyette’s strength as a partner, the choreography lacked nuance and subtlety.
Fortunately, that ballet’s mediocrity was quickly replaced with Evans’s marvelous farewell in Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, a praiseworthy choice for a final performance since it features many dancers and not just a soloist in the spotlight. This emotionally rich work, set to a wonderfully moody score by Paul Hindemith, reflects the four medieval moods. Teresa Reichlen continued her powerful streak in “Choleric”, as she did earlier in the season, and Jennie Somogyi and Jared Angle’s “Sanguinic” was pristine. In “Phlegmatic”, Evans was calm and remarkably poised as he effortlessly shifted from severe angular positions to softer, sinewy movement. Amidst the jovial atmosphere during his bows, the curtain lowered and then rose to show Evans striking the final iconic pose from the ballet. Both he and the audience savored the moment and took in the last few breaths of his remarkable career.