Oh, ballet dancers: We're nothing if not perfectionists. From our first class we're programmed to eliminate flaws--or at least camouflage them.

But what happens when things go truly wrong? Last night at New York City Ballet, soloist Savannah Lowery was blazing through the lead role in the Second Campaign of Stars and Stripes--a part she dances frequently--with her usual brio. Then, during her second entrance, she took a tumble, and appeared to injure herself. How do you "camouflage" the fact that you're sitting on the floor and some part of your body is no longer working?

Savannah couldn't quite--nobody could--but she made a laudably valiant effort. She survived the remaining 30 seconds or so of her solo, performing the port de bras, if not the legwork, full out. She even managed the final relevé in arabesque before exiting with as much grace and dignity as she could muster. (Feel better soon, Savannah!)

That's what I call professionalism. Also earning a gold (or red, white and blue?) star: Gwyneth Muller, who pulled off an impressive quick change and stepped in for Savannah in the coda, making nary a faux pas.

What happens, then, when disaster strikes? At NYCB, cool heads and strong wills save the day.

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