There are two ways in which greatness is revealed. The first and most obvious is to do everything perfectly and that’s what Indiana Woodward did in this show. The second way is to triumph over adversity and that’s what Sterling Hyltin did. I didn’t get to see as many New York City Ballet performances as I wanted to this spring season but this performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. Looking back, I realize that it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Maria Kowroski dance. Seeing her again in the role of Titania, I gained new appreciation for her sumptuously long line and easy grace. She moves with simple and unaffected beauty and she proved to be a capable comedienne as she doted on Bottom, so well played by Harrison Coll. For his part, Coll balanced the pathos and comedy like a seasoned veteran. Antonio Carmena unfortunately struggled with the allegro choreography of Oberon but he acted the part very well. The pantomime between him and Kowroski was thoroughly charming as they disputed over the possession of her page, played by the adorable Konatsu Iwai. The pairing of Sean Suozzi’s Puck with Woodward’s Butterfly was a marvel. They both move with otherworldly lightness and speed. Suozzi was terrific. He flew, he capered, he was magical and mischievous. Woodward was transcendent. She was a swirling, fluttering wonder and she danced this part as though it was made for her. Here was the complete freedom of a creature of nature, flitting this way and that at whim. The children of the School of American Ballet who play the little fairies were typically outstanding. They have very real and challenging choreography and there’s no mistaking that these children are the product of one of the world’s best dance schools. Oddly, the only off note in the first act was Justin Peck’s Cavalier. He moved and acted like a thoroughly non-magical, contemporary person and it was jarring.

Sterling Hyltin, who is normally remarkably consistent, frankly struggled with her pirouettes in the second act’s Divertissement and kept falling off pointe. It’s something that happens to all dancers from time to time. Her greatness is that she never lost her placement or composure and she never looked awkward. Even coming down from pointe at a time not of her own choosing she was under control and delivered everything else with her trademark flowing lyricism. It’s a testament to every dance teacher’s admonition to always finish your pirouettes, no matter what. This show reminded me why she’s one of my favorite dancers. Even in an off performance she doesn’t fail to inspire with her artistry. Chase Finlay partnered Hyltin in the Divertissement and he was super clean and polished. 

When you add it all up, this was a perfect closing show. It wasn’t without flaws but they were minor and the good far outweighed the bad. Musically this was also a great show. Under the leadership of Andrew Litton, the orchestra is better than ever and this performance, conducted by Daniel Capps, was as good as it gets. New York City Ballet's is the best ballet orchestra in the nation right now. And we can never forget the children of SAB who were so well prepared for the stage by Arch Higgins and Dena Abergel. The work they do is seldom appreciated sufficiently but it’s so important in grooming the next generation of dancers for the stage. As another season ends, it’s time to reflect on the cultural treasure that is New York City Ballet. They work so hard to remain relevant and competitive in an environment that is increasingly hostile to artistic enterprises. Still, they go from strength to strength and continually nurture an astonishing array of new talent. Every show is an opportunity to be uplifted from the mundane into the transcendent world of ideas. Bravo, one and all.