My first summer in New York I was 17, training at The Joffrey's summer intensive and spending my spare time taking extra classes at Steps, with jazz master Luigi, and at ABT (which, in it's pre-JKO days, offered an amazing daily open class). I was also seeing as much ballet as I could squeeze out of my limited allowance.
One night, my roommate Ali and I decided to get standing room tickets to ABT's Le Corsaire at the Met. It was about 45 minutes before curtain, our apartment was on the other side of Central Park and our feet were covered in blisters. We ran. Tourists laughed at the sight of two bunheads sprinting, the horse-carriage drivers kept calling out to us, jokingly asking if we needed a lift. We reached the lobby, sweaty and breathless, with less than five minutes to spare, only to find that every ticket under $100 was already sold. Crestfallen, we walked away, but the box office worker called us back. He had two press seats in orchestra center that were going unused, and he handed them to us for free.
That night, for the first time, I got to see Angel Corella dance. It was literally jaw-dropping. Those jumps were just so high. I couldn't figure out how exactly he managed to seemingly defy gravity. And I will never forget his seven priouettes that he finished by gradually slowing down to a halt in relevé, holding it for a second, letting the audience go crazy, then closing to fifth with complete control. I'd never known that a body could even do that—and with charisma! For me, seeing Corella dance blew open the possibilities of what ballet could be.
Yesterday I received a press release that Corella will retire as a principal dancer with ABT this season. His final performance is scheduled for June 28, dancing Prince Siegfried opposite Paloma Herrera's Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. Although he will continue his career as artistic director and principal dancer with Barcelona Ballet, he will be sorely missed in New York. ABT has many other great male dancers, but none hold the same place in my heart as Angel Corella.