Although it was a testament to Shayer’s artistry and how he can adapt any character onstage convincingly, I was a bit disappointed to see him play a suave boyfriend in white washed jeans and a white tank top. The pas de deux, although nothing wrong with it in itself, felt very out of place between all new works on the bill and also featuring a heterosexual “first date night” themed pas in the middle of the Pride Night evening.
After the dancing, Ballet Theatre shared the stage with the drag queen Lypsinka, which the New York Times ate up.
The persona of the off-and-on ABT pianist John Epperson was delightfully crowd-pleasing, and it was ground breaking and kind for Ballet Theatre to share the stage, however her appearance felt a bit random.
I additionally found it a little upsetting that the New York Times placed the emphasis of their headline on something which felt a tad trivial in comparison to the complete masterpiece, Touché, which was so deserving of all of the accolades in the world.
I am enthralled that ABT put a Pride Night on their fall programming, especially emerging from a year of radical change amid the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement.
However, I did find it slightly perturbing as an audience member that they decided to headline one explicitly homosexual ballet, put a drag artist on stage, send a dancer out on stage waving a pride flag, and call it a day.
The fight for true equality and recognition is to have sexual representation consistently represented in programming.
There has been an ongoing debate on how heterosexual representation can fit into an organization whose mission is to primarily preserve traditional classical ballets, but I think Royal, Menegussi, and Rudd have proved that there is space, it is needed, and it works.
Audiences have one more chance to witness ABT’s Pride Night on Saturday, October 30th and the company will perform their closing mixed bill of their fall season on Sunday, October 31st.