What If a Man (Woman) Could Fly?

That line from one of the early Superman movies came to mind the other night as my wife and I were privileged to see the New York City Ballet performance of Sleeping Beauty. At times I had to remind myself to breathe as the dancers leapt, spun and “flew” to perfect landings again and again.

What was I worried about? The answer, I think, was the mind’s innate reluctance to accept so much defiance of the laws of gravity and the normal limits of physical stamina, all accompanied by the NYCB full orchestra playing the extraordinary music of Tschaikovsky, brilliant costumes and staging, and on and on. Just stunning. No other word for it.

I readily confess I am no authority on this art form, but one particularly interesting thing occurred last night. By virtue of a membership my wife bought, we were able to attend a full dress rehearsal of the performance a week earlier. We only stayed for the first act and thought it was amazing. The rehearsal was only stopped twice, for very brief consultations; otherwise, it was the complete show, so we thought. But the real performance was almost like a different ballet. Everything about it seemed outsized, bolder, more precise, more … powerful.

This was clearest in the performances of the Lilac Fairy danced by Miriam Miller, a member of the corps de ballet, and of Princess Aurora danced by Lauren Lovette, an NYCB principal dancer. As great as all the dancers were, these two seemed to be at a different and higher level. Miller’s use of her long arms made her seem, in my wife’s word, ethereal. Lovette exuded power, grace and confidence. And several dozen students from the School of American Ballet performed in the huge cast – they all looked like seasoned professionals to me.

I have nothing more to say about this without blathering, but if you ever have the chance to see Sleeping Beauty at NYCB, don’t pass it up. Or any of the other amazing performances at New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theater. You will be convinced, as I now am, that a man and a woman can indeed fly.