In 1984, when I began reviewing dance in New York City, I was living in Philadelphia. The commute on Amtrak was an hour and a half each way, with a bus or subway on each side. I was on that train three or four times a week, and sometimes both days on weekends. I was seeing dance at City Center and the Joyce, at DTW, P.S. 122, and BAM. American Ballet Theatre, then under the leadership of Mikhail Baryshnikov, would plump down at the Met in late spring through June; July would follow with an international treat—the Paris Opéra or the Bolshoi or the Kirov. The destination that meant most, however, that was the most important and rewarding and demanding, sometimes five performances in one week, was the New York State Theater, home to the New York City Ballet. When I moved to Manhattan in 1987, I rented an apartment eight blocks away.

George Balanchine, the...

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