Thoughts on Joaquin De Luz Final NYCB Performance

Hard to believe that Joaquin De Luz is 42 years of age based on his work in his final New York City Ballet performance Sunday, putting on a show that many dancers 20 years to his junior would envy. After starting his career in 1996 at Pennsylvania Ballet, then to American Ballet Theatre in 1997, and finally to NYCB in 2003, he is going out on top with great dramatic flair and technique. Check out my photography website for curtain call photos.

Joaquin started his busy afternoon with a memorable Theme and Variations with Tiler Peck to a rousing ovation when the curtain was raised. Joaquin handled the treacherous solos with great ease, particularly the second gut buster solo featuring high rond de jambe en l’air along a diagonal, multiple sissonne, and a controlled pirouette/double tour combination to the knee. A hallmark throughout his career, he displayed bravura with great modesty. Tiler demonstrated flawless technique combined with great musicality and timing. She knows exactly when to slow down a step followed by accelerated movements in synch with the music.

Joaquin De Luz NYCB final performance

Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz. Click for more curtain call photos of Joaquin’s final NYCB performance

Joaquin showed off great timing and range in A Suite of Dances. Jerome Robbins choreographed the work in 1994 for Mikhail Baryshnikov to a Bach score with a single cello on stage. The solo work is a stream of consciousness, unpredictable with a lack of flow that makes the work compelling with standard ballet steps mixed in with front rolls and cartwheels. At times, Joaquin was whimsical, smiling broadly, while other times introspective. A delightful piece that demonstrated his care and devotion to his craft.

Last up was Todo Buenos Aires, a forgettable Peter Martins work with Latin themes. Although not great choreography, it showed off Joaquin’s beautiful double assemblés done with meticulous form and energy. At the end of the performance, Joaquin was showered with flowers by current and former ABT dancers including Sascha Radetsky, Carlos Lopez, and Flavio Salazar. Most humorous was NYCB’s Gonzalo Garcia presenting Joaquin with a flag from their native Spain and playing bullfighter and bull with Joaquin as the bullfighter. At the end of the tribute parade was his father, Joaquin De Luz Dieguez and mother Gloria Perez, clad in a flaming pink dress. She lit up the dance floor with Joaquin with great Latin flair (see photo at top). I can see where he gets his style.

Joaquin is not finished in the ballet world. He will perform in Jerome Robbins’ Watermill at the Brooklyn Academy of Music later this month with more performances at the International Havana Ballet Festival and in South Africa and Spain. He will also teach at the Jacqueline Onassis School and ABT’s Studio Company according to The New York Times.

Sunday marked the end of NYCB’s fall season, a much-needed successful run after recent controversies. The company was in great form with NYCB classics starting with Jewels with standout debut performances from Joseph Gordon, Taylor Stanley, and Unity Phelan. Concerto Barocco and Symphony in C were done with great delicacy. The same cannot be said of debut works, particularly The Runaway set to misogynistic rap songs. Not the smartest choice after a lewd scandal.

At the end of the season, the company promoted Joseph Gordon to Principal Dancer and Daniel Applebaum, Harrison Coll, Claire Kretzschmar, Aaron Sanz, Sebastian Villarini-Velez, and Peter Walker to Soloist (see the NYCB press release for more detail).