Pennsylvania Ballet principal dancer Riolama Lorenzo's final performance before retiring is Sunday, but it was already a lovefest Thursday night, when the company opened its Pushing Boundaries series at the Merriam Theater.
The theater was buzzing with talk of Lorenzo, both before the show and during the two intermissions. And she didn't disappoint, dancing two Matthew Neenan ballets: 11:11, set to six songs by Rufus Wainwright, and Keep, in a gorgeous, mature pas de deux with Zachary Hench.
Created in 2009, Keep is a beautiful ballet, featuring a suite of, mostly, duets about relationships, set to string quartets by Alexander Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov. But it also could be interpreted as Lorenzo's bittersweet bourrée into the next phase of her life, as fresh-faced dancers in pink eagerly fill the gap. Lorenzo, in a yellow gown, stands in the shadows during a long section, then kneels to lean over a fallen colleague and, with bits of chiffon floating around her, melts into her partner in pirouettes and dramatic ports de bras.