American Ballet Theater’s Opening Night Gala

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There is such thing as a New York moment. It could come in the form of being splashed in the rain by a speeding taxi hugging a curb or exchanging a smile with a beautiful stranger from across the subway platform that you’ll probably never see again. After two years in this magnificent city, I’m always surprised when I find myself in the middle of one of these quintessential moments.

Yesterday, I found myself in the middle another one.

While my shift was nearing its end at my current post production facility, I read a tweet by American Ballet Theater aiming to get their fans amped up for the 2014 Opening Night Gala. I checked the clock and read 5:58PM. I checked ABT’s website and saw that the ballet program started at 630PM. Ten minutes later I was out the door, running across 7th avenue to catch the 1 train uptown. By 625PM, I was in line, only in my jeans, t-shirt and blazer ensemble I had hastily put together that morning, to hopefully snag a ticket to the night’s performance.

“Do you still have student* tickets available?” I asked the box office as the ushers played their xylophones indicating to all that it was time to take their seats. “No.” he said. My shoulders shrank. “But we have $25 Family Circle tickets!” he said. I pushed my debit card through the small window and said I’d take it!

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As I weaved my way through the dolled up creatures in couture evening gowns and tuxedos, I stared in awe and reminded myself that this, this right here, is one of the many reasons why I came to New York. After all, where else in the US could I experience such impromptu access to the arts?

Most of the ballet goers ignored my presence and some gave me the look over my “choice” outfit to wear to the Metropolitan Opera House, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to walk about the red carpeted lobby and out onto the balcony to soak it all in.

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The solo, elder gentleman who I sat next to talked with me about the underwhelming Cinderella sneak peak and how achingly beautiful Julie Kent’s performance was in the Manon excerpt. Honestly, only a few things can make me cry on the spot – a well scored sports montage, remembering my beloved great aunt, Dr. Greene from ER, and more on pointe (pun intended!): Julie Kent dancing. The old man and I shouted, “Bravo!” as she accepted her customary bouquet of roses from the wings. Watching her strength and grace, lyricism and beauty with every leap and turn was as if she were dancing with the wind. I became drunk off of her truly moving performance…

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The night air was thick and warm as all the swishing gowns shuffled past me like a stone in a rushing river to the grand courtyard of Lincoln Center. I watched, transfixed as if I were at the zoo, these grandly dressed gala attendees make their way toward the illuminated purple and white tents – where the real party began.

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I lingered outside a bit, making circles in the small garden, before deciding that I had already had my proper fill of the evening.

Dreams do happen in New York City, especially the small ones that only require a bit of gumption and a cheap ballet ticket.

What a night…

*ABT offers discounted, day-of tickets to students. Luckily, my student ID doesn’t have an expiration date.

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