May in Manhattan. Think maypoles. Which means, think ballet. Ribbons don’t only hold the pointe shoe in place. The lofting, circling ribbons on ballet’s maypole, though manipulated by artists onstage, are a metaphor for our interwoven society, and for the ballet audience, which includes tween “ballerinas” (long-necked and big-eyed, like baby llamas), size-2 socialites and their momentarily subdued husbands (the art of the deal!), and a vast landscape of classical dance connoisseurs. As for the critics, as the late dancer Vadim Strukov once told me, “You learn more from a brilliant enemy than from a stupid friend.” Emotions, ambitions, opinions—tied up in ribbons—that’s spring season in New York. For the first time in our memory, the ribbons are missing. Friends of Air Mail weigh in on the absence. —Laura Jacobs, editor, Arts Intel Report

This year May will come and go without dance at Lincoln Center, leaving an unprecedented gap. But memories can be sustaining, especially hopeful ones. In May of 2015, American Ballet Theatre performed Alexei Ratmansky’s interpretation of Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty, his choreography of 1890. It is now one of my most cherished memories. Ratmansky returned to the earliest notations and scrubbed away many of the Disney flourishes that have recently found their way into the ballet. Instead of the simplified narrative that so many productions now use—a bounding prince (aided by the indefatigable Lilac Fairy) who obliterates the evil Fairy Carabosse so that he can settle down with Aurora in a Hallmark-card castle—Ratmansky’s Beauty offered a more nuanced and profound approach. Carabosse is defeated but not destroyed, forgiven and invited to the wedding, but kept at a wary distance. Aurora and the Prince have won their triumph because they are merciful. I walked out of the theater that night with the feeling that we can be generous. And that although there will always be darkness, there will also be lilacs. —Mary Cargill, critic, Dance View Times