For­mer bal­let star Al­bert Evans dies af­ter ill­ness aged 46

The China Post - - ARTS - BY JOCELYN NOVECK

Al­bert Evans, a for­mer New York City Bal­let (NYCB) prin­ci­pal dancer and one of the most prom­i­nent African-Amer­i­cans in clas­si­cal dance, has died at age 46.

Evans died at New York’s Mount Si­nai Hos­pi­tal on Mon­day night “fol­low­ing a short ill­ness,” said Rob Daniels, a spokesman for the bal­let com­pany. He did not have fur­ther de­tails.

Evans was one of only two African-Amer­i­can prin­ci­pal dancers in New York City Bal­let’s 67-year history. The first was Arthur Mitchell, who is now 81.

As a prin­ci­pal, Evans danced a huge va­ri­ety of roles in the City Bal­let reper­toire, from clas­si­cal to mod­ern, from Ge­orge Balan­chine to Jerome Rob­bins to Christo­pher Wheel­don. He joined the com­pany in 1988 and quickly rose through the ranks, be­com­ing a soloist in 1991 and a prin­ci­pal in 1995. Evans re­tired dur­ing the spring 2010 sea­son with an emo­tional farewell per­for­mance, and had been serv­ing since then as a bal­let master at the com­pany.

“The en­tire New York City Bal­let fam­ily is heart­bro­ken by the loss of our beloved friend and col­league Al­bert Evans,” said Peter Martins, the com­pany’s bal­let master in chief, in a state­ment. “Kind, warm, gen­er­ous, and al­ways a joy to be with, Al­bert is quite sim­ply ir­re­place­able.”

Evans was born in At­lanta, Ge­or­gia, and trained there as a young­ster. In 1986, he was awarded a full schol­ar­ship to the School of Amer­i­can Bal­let, NYCB’s of­fi­cial school.

His more prom­i­nent roles in Balan­chine bal­lets in­cluded the Cava­lier in “The Nutcracker” and Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” among many oth­ers. He had fea­tured roles in Wheel­don’s “Poly­pho­nia” and “Liturgy.” And he orig­i­nated roles in a num­ber of works by Martins, in­clud­ing his 1991 “Sleep­ing Beauty,” in which Evans danced Puss in Boots, and “Romeo + Juliet,” in which he played a com­mand­ing Prince of Verona.

Friends and col­leagues in the dance world took to so­cial media on Tues­day to praise Evans.

“Good­bye dear Al­bert, a beau­ti­ful soul,” wrote chore­og­ra­pher Alexei Rat­man­sky on Face­book.

“He gave us all the strength, beauty, joy, laugh­ter, smiles, pas­sion, and in­spi­ra­tion to keep go­ing, to keep push­ing on­ward, to be the best we could be,” wrote prin­ci­pal dancer Sara Mearns on In­sta­gram.

Dancer and ris­ing chore­og­ra­pher Justin Peck, also on In­sta­gram, called Evans “such an in­cred­i­ble, lu­mi­nous per­son. Al­bert al­ways brought warmth, hos­pi­tal­ity, en­thu­si­asm, hu­mor to any sit­u­a­tion.”

In ad­di­tion to his dance roles, Evans chore­ographed sev­eral works, incl ud­ing “Haiku,” to mu­sic by John Cage, for New York City Bal­let’s 2002 Diamond Pro­ject, as well as a solo for NYCB prin­ci­pal Peter Boal in 2003, per- formed at the Joyce Theater.

Evans also ap­peared in the 2002 “Live From Lin­coln Cen­ter” broad­cast of “New York City Bal­let’s Diamond Pro­ject: Ten Years of New Chore­og­ra­phy.”

AP

In this June 20, 2010 photo re­leased by the New York City Bal­let, Al­bert Evans ap­pears dur­ing his farewell per­for­mance in “The Four Tem­per­a­ments,” in New York. Evans, who was in his 40s, died at New York’s Mount Si­nai Hos­pi­tal on Mon­day, June 22.

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