On Saturday, April 28th patrons of Lincoln Center enjoyed a tribute performance for the legendary Russian “ballerina assoluta” Natalia Makarova at the David H. Koch theatre presented by the Youth America Grand Prix as part of their “Legends in Dance” series. Leading ballet dancers from the American Ballet Theatre, Mikhailovsky Theatre St. Petersburg, Royal Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, New York City Ballet, Stuggart Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet  paid homage to one of the most internationally renowned ballerinas in the business.

Just as famous for her beauty as she was for defecting from Soviet Russia, Natalia set the bar as one of the best prima ballerinas in modern history, and was even versatile enough to win a Tony Award for her performance in On Your Shoes. Throughout the evening’s tribute Natalia narrated her life story via intimate video clips from her youth through retirement. While the performances by the young dancers were superb, I couldn’t help but long for Natalia to go en pointe and give us one last performance.

A reception followed the performance with libations sponsored (naturally) by Russian Standard Vodka and NTV. While the dinner supplied by Pushkin Brasseries was absolutely divine, it was a complete tease to have all sorts of delicious looking dishes with no utensils to eat with. Granted, the roasted rack of lamb was the highlight and easily adopted as finger food, but it was a bit odd to see people eating tuna tartar fritters and chocolate mousse tarts with their fingers while dressed in their finery.

Despite the quirky finger food twist, the evening appropriately lauded the achievements of the elegant Makarova who humbly deferred her “greatest achievement” to be that of her son, Andre Mikhail.

Happy Dancing,