My favorite kind of ballerina is the kind that is not known for one particular quality. I love watching someone whose dancing is multifaceted and can adapt to any kind of choreography, music or mood. I think it’s a sign of artistic maturity and a true understanding of all the possibilities of expression that ballet can present. I was lucky enough to see two such dancers yesterday, Sofiane Sylve (a principal at SFB) and Savannah Lowery (a soloist at NYCB). I was invited to watch a rehearsal they had with Avi Scher, and since I’m a huge fan of Sofiane’s, and also now of Savannah’s, I jumped at the chance.
The piece they were rehearsing is a duet, and they were well matched. What really drew me in, though, was the ability of both ballerinas to be both lyrical and wild, often changing their quality from one phrase to the next. Sofiane, a powerful, seasoned ballerina, has really mastered this ability to vary her movement style, and she has one of the most beautifully expressive upper bodies and port de bras that I have ever seen. At the beginning of her solo in this piece, she starts by slowly undulating her torso, then her arms and head join in, and the fluidity of it all is amazing. Her lines are beautifully detailed; when she moves, she knows just when to flex a wrist, a finger, or tilt her chin. Watching her dance a fast passage was wonderful–in contrast to her solo, she was a wild thing, spinning and jumping with abandon, but never seeming blurry or out of control. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching her.
My fellow tall girl Savannah had a similar quality, but her dancing was a little “greener” than Sofiane’s, in that it had more of a coltish bouyancy to it, and less studied variance. Technically confident, she seemed to revel in the movement and in the opportunities to stretch her long lines in every direction, giving herself to the music. Hers was total dedication to the experience of dancing, and it was refreshing to watch her having so much fun. I particularly enjoyed the sections in which she was dancing in unison with Sofiane, as I could see the kind of authoritative and nuanced ballerina she could become. I’m going to be looking out for her in City Ballet’s upcoming season, and I suggest you all do too! Her radiance will make you leave the theatre with a lighter heart, and a renewed love of ballet.