Rio, Riolama Lorenzo, making her her final bows. © Alexander Iziliaev.

Saying goodbye to Rio

Since joining the company in 2002, Lorenzo has created roles in several of the company’s new works. And without doubt, Rio has distinguished herself in many classical roles here ~ the short list includes Giselle, Swan Lake (Wheeldon), Carmen and Prodigal Son.

Barbara Weisberger, who founded PB in 1963, was among those standing for the thunderous ten-minute ovation. PB artistic director Roy Kaiser came onstage with a huge spray of flowers and embraced the star, gesturing her repeatedly to center stage under waves of lusty applause. Her husband and four-year-old son laid flowers at her feet and roses rained down on the stage of the Merriam Theater as Rio’s colleagues kept coming on to say goodbye.

Rio appears in Greek Song dance from Mat Neenan’s 11:11as the elusive pick-up of Francis Veyette, with great unexpected variations. Lorenzo’s trademark, diamond-hard arabesque flashes, and there is such flow in this pas de deux with these dancers. The full ensemble finale of Oh What a World is a riveting stage picture. Wainwright samples Ravel’s Bolero, with a rush of dancers streaming onstage with Lorenzo marching slowly through them. The last song was a bit scrambled because of a technical glitch — a curtain panel was supposed to make dancers vanish, but the effect didn’t go smoothly.

Keep choreographed for Lorenzo in 2009, is postmodern classicism with few Neenanism and very romantic scenarios scored to String Quartets by Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov, played with pulsing clarity by four members of the ballet orchestra. The robust partnering for the four supporting couples featured standouts Amy Aldridge/Francis Veyette and Brooke Moore/Ian Hussey. Rio appears in silhouette, role as the sultry dancer floating around the stage in a gorgeous, scallop-skirt yellow flamenco dress. At one point, her partner Zachary Hench had his head on her shoulder and it was symbolic picture of her exit. We know how he feels- Lorenzo has been simply luminous in her technical and dramatic artistry- the complete dancer.

Eventually all eyes were on Rio’s every move, knowing they would be her last moments with the company. You had to love that fact that Neenan leaves her spinning on a bar stool, because yes, we all need a drink to think about life without Rio on the stage of the Pennsylvania Ballet.