Darcey Redux: When Memory Doesn't Lie

October 21, 2007

As a dancer and audience member, my experience is filled with anxiety (and pleasure of course), knowing that the moments are intangible; after I have chewed on the delicious art, there is no doggie bag for left-overs. And I am accutely aware that whatever images I take away will ultimately be altered by time; many times I have returned to see pieces or dancers I love, only to find my impression changed (even if not for the worse). So when I re-experienced my favorite ballerina (Darcey Bussell, recently retired from The Royal Ballet) in the first role I saw her perform, I was overjoyed and mystified that the performance matched my memory.

    I first caught Bussel in a luscious and mysterious pas de deux in London. Although I couldn‘t get tickets to the Royal’s performance at Covent Garden, the theater had set up a simultaneous screening in the courtyard. Bussell’s back-breaking arabesques and the silvery smooth partnering were exquisite, but the moment that struck me most was when Bussell, perched on her partner’s deep plie in second, sat for a moment in a full straddle and then shifted seamlessly to a split. I was so mesmerized that I never took note of the choreographer’s name or work title.

    While waiting for Wheeldon’s Tryst to begin at City Center, I only felt thrilled that I would see Bussell dance again. And while I had a slight inkling that I was repeating my past, only when her legs shot pointedly from his thighs did I realize it…this was the same piece!!! It was just as beautiful, touching and perfect as I remembered and my Bussell-adoration was secured.

    There may not be a dance doggy bag, but maybe you can return to the three star restaurant.–Lauren Kay, assistant editor, Dance Retailer News