Like most New Yorkers, I’ve dreaded the arrival of September 11 every year since 2001. I don’t think it will ever cease to be a heartbreaking day, nor do I think it should.
Every year, it seems, brings a new memorial. A beauty arrived on Youtube this morning at dawn in the form of a pas de deux danced on the 57th floor terrace of Four World Trade Center in the shadow of Freedom Tower.
The three-minute piece, performed by New York City Ballet principal dancers Maria Kowroski and Ask le Cour, is an excerpt from Christopher Wheeldon’s exquisite 2005 ballet After the Rain.
Set to a musical pas de deux for piano and cello by Arvo Part the ballet is tender, touching and brimming with heartfelt emotions.
Dance enthusiasts are accustomed to seeing the piece on a bare darkened stage, performed by a spotlighted ballerina with hair flowing, garbed in pale pink and ballet slippers instead of point shoes, and a male dancer wearing silky white pants. Like its minimalist music and setting, the dance is stripped to its essentials and is touchingly raw.
Seeing it performed on a roof in the soft light of dawn is a reminder that context matters in art. It’s daybreak instead of the black of night. The pale blue sky lighted by silvery silhouettes of skyscrapers – the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and directly behind the dancers, Freedom Tower – creates a sense is of expansiveness and of hope.
It’s windy on the roof – you see the dancer’s pant legs rippling, the ballerina’s hair twirling and can easily imagine goosebumps dotting their skin. Theaters, unlike rooftops, are controlled environments. But as we know all too well some things cannot always be controlled.