The dance theater that bears the name of tycoon David H. Koch in the plaza of the Lincoln Center has been the scene of memorable events. The one on this Sunday was exceptional. The Spanish dancer Joaquín de Luz said goodbye to the demanding New York public 15 years after debuting with the New York City Ballet with a formidable performance full of energy, during the wasted charm. It is leaving an emotional vacuum difficult to fill in a moment of transition for the company.
With the ambitious program of his final function he celebrated the choreographers who defined his career. The Madrid dancer led in his farewell Theme and Variations, by George Balanchine, co-founder of the City Ballet. With A Suite of Dances he paid tribute to Jerome Robbin, another of the parents of the company. The closing left him for Peter Martins, his last teacher in chief, with tango All Buenos Aires. The repertoire included Concerto Barocco of Balanchine, of his favorites, in which he did not act.
Joaquín de Luz, 42, was trained in the dance school of Víctor Ullate. He danced for the Madrid company between 1992 and 1995. "Since I was a child he had a light, an aura," commented the teacher while he remembered with emotion how the artist grew up, "whoever has a child will understand". In August of 1996 the American adventure like soloist in the Pennsylvania Ballet began and a year later comprised of the group of dance of the American Ballet Theater in New York.
In 2003 he crossed Broadway to Lincoln Center to join the NYCB as a soloist. I wanted to work as it was with Peter Martins. Until this Sunday he was one of his 20 main dancers. The wide repertoire that he made during all this time includes interpretations for August Bournonville, Justin Peck, Alexei Ratmansky and Christopher Wheeldon. His career also includes the original role of Tybalt in Romeo + Juliet of Peter Martins and he just resuscitated in Suite of Dance.
"We will miss you", could be read in the farewell message that the NYCB posted on Twitter coinciding with his last act. The National Dance Institute also wished him the best before starting to mark his movements on the stage for the last time, precise and sincere, without effort. "Act as if it were nothing," says Ullate after the third act, while standing out as the melody of Ann Kim's cello with her body, "is a very versatile artist."
The staging lasted more than two hours. There were capotazos with a Spanish flag and the last measures were sevillanas improvised with their mother. His farewell does not come at an easy time. The scream that a year ago was raised with the movement #MeToo also rumbled in the City Ballet, in one of its many forms. Martins left in January the artistic direction after being accused of abuses, leaving his future in the hands of figures such as De Luz. And in September, a dancer sued the management for condoning a climate of excess towards women.
As the newspaper pointed out The New York Times In an extensive report dedicated to the artist from Madrid, the San Fernando de Henares always stood out for the temperament, the drama and the spark that he imprinted on his dance. In the scene he always showed a very original accent. "A mixture of attack, extroversion and bravery", summarizes as soon as the article starts. But as demonstrated in his last act, the physical is not all in dance and had a natural ability to reach the audience.
Joaquín de Luz showed on the stage a rhythm, a musicality and attitude very different from that of other artists that make up the dance company. His height was a problem but not an impediment to being on top. And with his permanent smile he contacted the public of the most frenetic city in the world. Although he says he feels American after so many years outside of Spain, the blood inside him can be more. That is why he does not rule out the possibility of returning home one day.
The withdrawal from the stage, as Ullate says, comes at the right time. "You have to know when to put an end," he insists, "people will remind you how you saw him tonight." Although it was announced at the end of June, he decided long ago looking at his age, before the scandal hit the springs of the institution. He leaves, in any case, leaving an important gap in the City Ballet. Three main dancers were dismissed in recent months and another has just been injured.
He recognizes that working under another direction would have been strange, because of the close friendship he had with Martins. The abandonment is not total. Now he will put his artistic, technical and physical experience – he surpassed important injuries – to train future stars. At the end of the month begins with Jerome Robbins an experimental ballet program at the Academy of Music in Brooklyn. Then he will give classes at the Jacqueline Onassis School and the ABT study.