It was an emotional good-bye for Houston Ballet's principle dancer Amy Fote during the company's Jubilee of Dance: A Tribute to Amy Fote; she retires from the company later this month. A Wisconsin native, Fote joined the Houston Ballet in 2005 as a first soloist after spending 14 seasons with Milwaukee Ballet. In 2006, she was promoted to principle dancer.
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The three-act Jubilee included Fote in a pas de deux from Marie, as well as excerpts from Manon and Merry Widow. Throughout the evening, Fote proved over and over that she didn't need big, dramatic movements or showy tricks to captivate her audience; her dancing is about more than endless pirouettes or gravity defying leaps. She embodies her characters, revealing them through the subtle nuances of her performance.
Fote gave herself completely to the emotion of the evening, dancing not with abandon but with a restraint that made the performance all the more touching. Her waif-like body has often masked her strength on stage, but here her delicate physique helped to accentuate the emotional depth of the three characters she portrayed.
The highlight of the evening came, ironically, not when Fote was dancing, but when she was standing still. After her performance of excerpts from Merry Widow, Fote took her final bow of the evening. Houston Ballet's Artistic Director Stanton Welch stepped on stage and presented her with a bouquet of roses (by then several long-stem roses had already been thrown up on stage). Each member of the company then filed on stage, dropping roses at Fote's feet while the audience applauded ... and applauded ... and applauded. With the entire company assembled behind her, a mound of roses at her feet, Fote graciously accepted the applause and cheers. It was a magical moment in what has been an illustrious career.
Amy Fote appears as the Sugar Plum Fairy in select performances of the Houston Ballet's The Nutcracker through December 30. Wortham Theatre Center, 501 Texas. For information, visit the Houston Ballet's website or call 713-227-2787. $25 to $110.