Pride Night at the American Ballet Theatre

Two men in a lake leaning backwards and looking into each others eyes
Pride Night at the American Ballet Theatre

American Ballet Theatre Pride Night shows

The American Ballet Theatre returned to live performances at the David H. Koch Theater in New York City, October 2021 for the first time since 2019. American Ballet Theatre introduced its first-ever Pride Night shows—on October 27 and October 30—to celebrate the LGBTQ community and LGBTQ History Month.

Both shows included a series of short ballet performances representing “the innovation and can-do spirit that has long defined Ballet Theatre,” as Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director, writes in a Playbill letter to the audience. A special guest appearance by veteran Off-Broadway, screen and stage award-winning artist Lypsinka (John Epperson–Black Swan, Witch Hunt); and a post-performance panel discussion moderated by actress Tommy Dorfman (Netflix series 13 Reasons Why). In addition, a photography exhibition by Quil Lemons, a photographer “known for creating portraits that often challenge traditional ideas,” was also displayed throughout the David H. Koch Theater building.

On the first of the two Pride Night shows, the American Ballet Theatre opened its doors to a full audience of ballet lovers. The first part of the show included four short ballet performances: Bernstein in a Bubble, Some Assembly Required, and Indestructible Light, and Touché.

If My Friends Could See Me Now, an unforgettable performance by Lypinska, preceded the panel discussion moderated by Tommy Dorfman, with the creators and performers of Touché—choreographer Christopher Rudd, intimacy director Sarah Lozoff, and dancers Calvin Royal III and Joao Menegussi.

In Touché, Calvin Royal III and Joao Menegussi took the art of “physical storytelling” (dance) to new heights in a magical and surreal performance. Touché is a powerful, emotional, intimate dance celebrating gay love and lust. It is also the remarkable result of a remarkable, creative team effort.

Rudd mentioned recent events that helped him find “the courage to create [this piece] and the wisdom to bring [it] to the stage.” Lozoff discussed the challenges of expressing the issue of consent and lack-there-of while simulating and expressing intimacy through dance. Royal and Menegussi talked about preparing for Touché by coming together and sharing their experiences as gay men and then working together in their “ballet bubble.”

Coming out of that bubble and returning to live performances means something different to each creative team member. Menegussi calls it “freedom” to Menegussi; Royal, “community;” Lozoff, “magical” and “surreal.” Rudd agrees with them all. His “mission in life is to better the world through dance.”

The Pride Night’s celebration was a beautiful example of people coming together to create a memorable experience. The night closed with an emotional tribute to the “beautiful souls who lost their lives to AIDS,” artists like Alvin Ailey and many others, who made it possible for present and future generations “to stay […] on stage, with pride.”

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