It's been an exciting few weeks in New York City with both American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet in the midst of their respective seasons at Lincoln Center. With so many homegrown stars in the spotlight, it's wonderful to remember the past generations of dancers who once lit up the same stages and helped shape American ballet into what is it today. One such luminary is former ABT principal Cynthia Gregory, whom Rudolf Nureyev dubbed the "American Prima Ballerina Assoluta." In this 1970's clip of her "Rose Adagio" from The Sleeping Beauty, it's plain to see how she enchanted balletomanes everywhere with her unaffected elegance.
In her opening solo, Gregory flutters with unencumbered joy, simultaneously exuding royal refinement. She graciously accepts her suitors' invitations to dance and soutenus as she takes each one's hand, lingering in ecarté before gently rolling down through her foot to step to her next partner. This piece is infamous for its balances, and Gregory's approach is perfection. In attitude she remains perched on pointe, leisurely taking each next prince's hand. Even at the end of the exhausting adagio, Gregory completes the sequence of promenades in attitude by lengthening her leg into a gorgeous arabesque, pausing for an extra second or two, and then placing her leg delicately into sous-sus. Happy #Throwback Thursday!