5 Boroughs, 5 Minutes: Short Stories at the New York City Ballet



The New York City Ballet sings and dances in the West Side Story Suite.

Sofia Altamura, Contributing Writer

Mellifluous music, captivating story-lines and breathtaking dancing — these are all the components that result in a wonderful night at the ballet.

On Oct. 10, the New York City Ballet put on “Short Stories,” which included three performances: “Fancy Free,” “Prodigal Son” and “West Side Story.”

The first performance, “Fancy Free,” was about three sailors on leave during World War II. While at a New York City diner, they end up in a competition over a few girls that come and go from the diner. This witty and playful ballet, featuring lively music and impressive pirouettes and leaps, transported the audience to a common occurrence on the American home front in an entertaining way. This ballet was also the inspiration for the great Broadway success, “On the Town.”

The next performance, “Prodigal Son” (based on the biblical parable) transitioned into a more dramatic tone. When a son receives his inheritance from his father, he leaves his family and squanders it all on an extravagant lifestyle. Once he realizes he spent everything he has, he decides to return to his father. Instead of reprimanding him or turning him away, his father welcomes his son back and celebrates his return. The audience could feel the emotion when the son, broken down and in despair, returns to his father, who receives him with a loving embrace. It is the ultimate lesson of acceptance and redemption, which was quite moving.

The phrase “saving the best for last” can certainly be applied to this show.

The last performance was the “West Side Story” suite. Arguably one of the greatest films of the 20th century, this classic story of star-crossed lovers and divided families truly came to life. Even after seeing the film numerous times, I was on the edge of my seat as the feelings of love, the excitement of the dances and the tensions of alienation permeated the theatre. The theme of divisiveness is still prevalent in today’s time, so it was inspiring to see the different ending that this take on the story provided — in a bright, sky-like setting, Tony and Maria looked forward to the future.

Leaving the theatre with the idea of hope in my mind was not what I had expected when I walked in the Ballet, but was what I found.