Almost three years ago, David Hallberg, a native of South Dakota, became the first American to join the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet of Moscow. On Thursday, the company performed at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, its first time in New York in a decade, and Hallberg was there in the role of Prince Siegfried in “Swan Lake.”
“Mr. Hallberg could not have done more in this ballet to show what his Bolshoi experience has taught him,” Alastair Macaulay wrote in a review in The New York Times.
After the performance, the blonde, blue-eyed dancer had changed into a black suit for a late-night dinner held in his honor at Lincoln Ristorante. Hallberg, who is also a principal dancer for American Ballet Theater, was gratified with his homecoming.
“It’s a nice moment to come back and be in New York with the Russians,” he said. “Not many people have seen me dance in Moscow, so my New York audience and the dancers in the community here have been curious about what I’ve been doing in Moscow. I made a decision not to prove myself, but just do what I do, and I think inevitably the work I’ve put in in the three years I’ve been with Bolshoi comes out. Sergei brought me over, he really had the idea and it was his inkling,” said Hallberg about his mentor, Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin, who had plucked the protégé overseas three years prior. “I support him as much as I think he supports me.”
Filin, who was partly blinded late last year after a bizarre acid attack, was in New York for the performances — the Bolshoi program at Lincoln Center runs until Sunday — but skipped the dinner. Instead, Hallberg was feted by the likes of Derek Lam, Prabal Gurung, China Chow, Mary Katrantzou, Rosie Assoulin and Jeffrey Deitch.
“He certainly knows how to stand up straight,” Deitch said of Hallberg. Gurung was disappointed he didn’t get to meet Hallberg’s onstage partner, Svetlana Zakharova, who dances the leading white and black swan roles, and had skipped the dinner.
“It was the best thing I’ve seen all my life!” Gurung gushed. “I was like, ‘Is she around, is she around? I want to go and meet her.’ I’m like a fan.”