New York City Ballet's Robbins 100 Festival last spring included 19 Jerome Robbins ballets performed over the course of two and a half weeks, requiring extreme stamina and versatility from the company's dancers. No one rose higher to the occasion than principal Sterling Hyltin. The festival showcased the breadth of her range, yet Hyltin shone brightest in Robbins' 1953 Afternoon of a Faun. From her first entrance through the door of the gauzy studio set to the end of the 11-minute pas de deux, Hyltin's embodiment of the role was complete; each movement expressed the naiveté and ethereal sensuality of her character. Her leggy, lithe physique is reminiscent of Tanaquil Le Clercq, the NYCB ballerina on whom the work was made and is now dedicated.
Anatomy of a Dance: Craig Hall on Jerome Robbins' AFTERNOON OF A FAUN www.youtube.com
Hyltin's total focus was most evident in her facial expressions; when she brought her hands to her cheek after being kissed, she exuded pure tenderness. One hopes that upcoming seasons give Hyltin more opportunities to act as a vessel for Robbins' timeless works.