April 30, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Her ethereal rendition of Mikhail Fokine’s “The Dying Swan” is a to-die-for delight. His gracefully rugged athleticism—not to mention a mop-top of untamed curls—makes him among the most recognizable figures in Omaha dance.

Bret Samson and Sasha York fell in love with the ballet at an early age, but it was as company dancers with Ballet Nebraska that they fell in love with each other.

Omaha Magazine caught up with the couple during a reception following the company’s performance of Duets, where Samson’s gossamer swan met its poetic demise.

“It’s kind of weird,” says Samson, “because work is work and home is home. We don’t often dance together in productions, so we can really get lost in rehearsals and forget that we’re even in the same room. Then we get home and it’s like, ‘Oh, hi! How was your day’?”

“I’m just glad,” the Russian-born York demurs, “that I’m paid to lift pretty women for a living.”

Samson’s accompanying eye roll suggests that a sharp elbow to the ribs may have been in order had she not been surrounded by so many wine-sipping, canapé-noshing witnesses. Is it possible that York had just uttered one of his “Greatest Hits” lines, perhaps now for the hundredth time?

“Make that the millionth time,” Samson replies with a coquettish grin.

On tap (make that en pointe) for Ballet Nebraska, the state’s only professional ballet troupe, is Momentum, the award-winning mixed-repertory series that showcases a vibrant mix of shorter works in a broad array of styles and themes, both contemporary and classic.

The program includes Poseidon, an elegant, original ballet in the neoclassical style by company ballet master Matthew Carter. It is based on the Joslyn Art Museum exhibit Poseidon and the Sea: Myth, Cult and Daily Life. Also featured will be Party Animals!, where ‘60s beats meet African rhythms in a whimsical, high-energy work by company founder Erika Overturff.

Ballet Nebraska’s Momentum will be performed May 2 in the Joslyn Art Museum Witherspoon Hall and May 4 in The Arts Center of Iowa Western Community College. Visit BalletNebraska.org for additional information.

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