The Auditorium Theatre buzzed with excitement over the weekend, and not just in celebration of its 125th anniversary. As the American Ballet Theatre was set to take the stage in its All-American Celebration, all I heard around me were whispers of one dancer's name: Misty Copeland.
Before the lights dimmed, the three girls in front of me watched Misty's Under Armour ad on an iPhone, mesmerized. The lights went down and two dancers took the stage. "Is it Misty?" No, not yet. When she finally took the stage, the crowd erupted into applause. I imagine many dance lovers' eyes welled with tears, the way a teenage girl's does when she sees Lady Gaga in concert for the first time. The elderly couple next to me fought over the binoculars until Misty ran off into the wings and the wife said, "you can have them next time she's on stage."
While the excitement Misty brought to the Auditorium Theatre Saturday night was palpable, it wasn't the only beautiful thing to happen to the stage that night. Her dancing was impeccable - her hands, her feet - but more than that, her stage presence was captivating. When Misty, with principal Gillian Murphy and fellow soloist Stella Abrera danced side-by-side in Bach Partita, it was like watching three power-house rock stars up there, only set to about as classical music as you can get.
The second piece, Some Assembly Required, featured two lovers (Sarah Lane and Sterling Baca) trying to find happiness in their off-and-on tumultuous relationship set to an up-and-down musical duet of violin and piano.
Misty returned to the stage with Marcelo Gomes in a masterpiece version of Sinatra Suite from Twyla Tharp. I had seen it before performed by The Joffrey, but Misty and Marcelo absolutely owned the theater this time. Marcelo moved to Sinatra's "One for My Baby" in a way that would have moved old blue eyes to tears, as the audience - my S.O. and myself included - had been.
The evening ended with Fancy Free, the playful piece set on a Manhattan side street in 1944 featuring three sailors back on leave out to have a few and chase a few ladies. It's theatrical and humorous, and more than anything takes us back to time. Fancy Free was first performed in 1944 by ABT and Jerome Robbins (who choreographed the piece) at the Metropolitan Opera House.