Former Minnesota Ballet director takes Times Square by stormFormer artistic director of Duluth’s ballet troupe captured in classic photo during impromptu performance.
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
Allen Fields was just having fun with his students when he slipped into a tutu and began dancing in Times Square on Halloween.
The impromptu performance by the Minnesota Ballet’s former artistic director attracted hundreds of bystanders — and the eye of a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, whose image from the scene has popped up on websites from around the world.
“It’s just amazing,” said Fields, who recently opened Allen Fields Classical Ballet & Training, a Rochester, Minn.-based company that focuses on elite dancers. “The public was all around me.”
Fields was in New York City with his students for a trip that included viewing live performances and visiting with his mentors. There was a photo shoot in Central Park, which transitioned into Fields’ show in Times Square in front of a reported 400 bystanders.
The show lasted more than an hour and called for maneuvering by traffic police, according to Linda Pagnano, Fields’ program coordinator.
“The people just loved him,” she said. “They took pictures and they were asking him to dance. It just spiraled into him providing good-hearted fun entertainment.”
Pagnano can also be seen in the image by Reuters’ photographer Adrees Latif that landed on countless websites, including Huffington Post and the London Financial Times.
“I found it on a Korean website,” Pagnano said.
Fields allegedly attracted the attention of a celebrity known for being a dance aficionado: Sarah Jessica Parker. The “Sex and the City” actress was leaving New York City Center, where she is in a production of Amanda Peet’s play “The Commons of Pensacola” with Blythe Danner.
The actress mobbed, Fields said. Just before getting into her car, she looked at him and said:
“You’re gorgeous,” Fields said.
Robert Gardner, who joined the Minnesota Ballet with Fields in the early 1990s and later took over as artistic director, said he received real-time updates via phone from the scene this past Thursday.
He said the performance surprised him a little.
“When we were in our 20s, maybe,” Gardner said and laughed. “In our 20s, I’d be the one to put on (the tutu) instead of him.”
As for Fields’ form in the photo:
“It’s great,” Gardner said. “A ballerina would kill for those legs.”
Latif won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography in 2008. His award-winning photo captured an injured Japanese photographer, who later died, on the ground in front of a Burmese soldier in Yangon, Myanmar. Off of the center, troops attack protesters.
Fields said the best part is being part of this photographer’s catalog.
“It’s really the most important thing, as a person, is to have a picture that will go down in history by a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer,” he said. “I think that’s really cool.”