Jenifer Ringer as the cigarette girl in Ratmansky's "Namouna." Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Jenifer Ringer as the cigarette girl in Ratmansky’s “Namouna.” Photo by Paul Kolnik.

It was just announced that four principals will be retiring from New York City Ballet next winter and spring. I’m especially sad to see Jenifer Ringer go. She hasn’t danced much lately–she’s been busy with her two children–and she’s been missed. Ringer was one of the first dancers I fell in love with, unsurprising since she is a particularly warm, welcoming presence onstage. She seemed to me to represent something essential to American dancers: a kind of easy-going naturalness, musicality, and sense of freedom. She is always herself onstage. I’ve loved her in so many ballets, including as Sugarplum in Nutcracker, in which she exuded beauty and almost maternal warmth. She was the essence of femininity and interiority in Emeralds and Dances at a Gathering. And she could be  sophisticated too, as when she danced the fabulous role of the cigarette girl in Ratmansky’s Namouna (see above). And then there was Liebeslieder, most especially the duet in which the woman slowly slides her leg along the floor beneath her dress, and miraculously rises up, like a ship on the seas, then floats down again. I’ll never forget watching Violette Verdy at a public coaching of Liebeslieder with Ringer and Jared Angle; after the pas de deux, Verdy said only: “how lovely.” I’ll be at her farewell performance, on Feb. 9, and I’m sure I’ll shed a tear or two.

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