Last week, the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center was lit up by more than just electric stage lights. The 20th anniversary performance of Stars of the 21st Century brought the ethereal grace and stunning power of a dream team of international dancers, the likes of which most of us are lucky to see one of once–let alone all of them back to back on one stage.  To say they set the stage on fire would be an understatement.

Ranging from contemporary and avant garde to ultra classic (who knew that the tutu is always a crowd pleaser?) the night was composed of a series of pas de deux or dances done by just 2 dancers, male and female, alone on stage.  It was intense to say the least, to see these pairs effortlessly cut through the air and entwine around each other.  There is something captivating about ballet — the combination of tradition and control with languid grace.

An annual international ballet event, Stars of the 21st Century has graced stages across the world, from Paris to Panama City, winning resounding acclaim along the way. Bringing together international dance companies and their greatest dancers for one unforgettable night of a singular performance, this year’s Stars of the 21st Century performance featured: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Alicia Graf Mack and Jamar Roberts; Bolshoi Ballet’s Svetlana Zakharova, Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin; Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s Desmond Richardson; The Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet‘s Maria Shirinkina and Vladimir Shklyarov; National Opera and Ballet of Ukraine’s Katerina Chebykina and Denis Matvienko; Royal Ballet’s Sarah Lamb and Erik Underwood; Staatsballett Berlin‘s Elisa Cabrera, Nadijda Saidakova, Vladimir Malakhov and Mikhail Kaniskin; and the Vienna State Opera Ballet’s Olga Esina and Eno Peci.

Though each performance was stunning, a personal highlight was the breathtaking performance of Sarah Lamb and Erik Underwood of England’s Royal Ballet.  Dressed simply in form fitting body suits, the two created a visually mesmerizing flow, and a raw grace that was accented by the ambient, at times discordant, music.

At intermission, champagne and passed hors d’oeuvres provides a pleasant sustenance, and after the performance, certain attendees were privilege to a celebratory dinner, shared with the dancers themselves and other members dance company staff.

– Ava Fedorov

Photos via Jonathan Marder + Company