garybruce

Edward Villella on video: clips only

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i've not known any copy of BALLET WITH EDWARD VILLELLA to ever be on the market, so it's doubtful anything will be on ebay, etc.

I bought 2 copies (different sellers) of "Ballet with Edward Villella" on ebay -- as 16 mm reels. I had one of them made into a VHS tape so that I can watch it. It's wonderful! Eddie Villella was wonderful, still is, and I remember his dancing so fondly. He was everyone's favorite. The Tchaikovsky pas de deux with Patty McBride is a real treat. And, because I never saw him dance Albrecht anywhere, the excerpt from Act II Giselle is a precious gem.

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What I find remarkable about the clip is the way he starts out so slowly and accelerates from adagio in the blink of an eye.
That, and the smooth, quick rebounds from plie.

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What I find remarkable about the clip is the way he starts out so slowly and accelerates from adagio in the blink of an eye.

Yes, I so agree. I was also struck by his port de bras. He really knew how to shape his arms beautifully in a way that worked with his proportions.

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It's a wonderful segment, and even better -- I think -- if you replay it without the smaaltzy music (which has little do to with the choreography, anyway).

Is it safe to guess that Villella choreographed this himself? The smaltzy music makes me laugh at his serious demeanor as he enters. Poor guy -- I guess they didn't take class to The Little Drummer Boy at SAB! But then . . . wow! vipa, thanks for pointing out those beautiful port de bras, and the intelligence with which he must have shaped them. And that attack! I never saw Villella on stage, but this is the most impressive, in that respect, that I've seen him on film.

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I cut my teeth on Villella dancing on TV during the sixties, when they still showed ballet on television (remember that?). Although I have never seen him dance in person and have not seen those television programs for years and years, I will never forget their impact. I particularly remember the "Bell Telephone Hour," which had clips from "Rubies." He left me gasping -- such athleticism and wit. I went to D.C. a few years back to see Miami City Ballet and was sitting in the auditorium during intermission when he suddenly appeared just a few yards from me to chat with someone in the audience. I could feel the blood leave my face. It was like seeing a god step down from the heavens. And did he ever look good -- so handsome, and instantly recognizable as the same man who thrilled me so and made me love ballet.

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'The Man Who Dances' must be unique in terms of its documentation of an overscheduled period in a dancer's career. Is it? Because none of the things on Nureyev or any of the female dancers give anything like the detail during this period when Villella collapsed in a matinee and then did 'Rubies' at the evening performance. He is in agony at all points offstage in this group of performances. I wonder if this was a pattern, this overscheduling. He doesn't even say no to Melissa Hayden when she needs to have him fill in for someone else during the period. It's a remarkable film, because those moments in his dressing room when he goes into these exclamations of ecstasies about the 'soaring' have an almost maniacal repetition to them which is very effective--just short jabbing phrases about the same thing over and over. It sounds slightly crazed at first, until you begin to realize that it's just that kind of verbal repetition that makes it so you really understand precisely what he means by the ecstasy he got in dancing. It is much better than any dancer I've ever heard talking about the sensation of dancing, because it is so enraptured that it is still attached to the dancing he's thinking about ('I feel really good right now', he says after a performance, 'although it will be different tomorrow', or something close to that). With other dancers, the talk of the dancing is more detached from the sensation itself. Patricia McBride was exquisite whenever she appeared or danced, and as a result of never speaking once in the film, was like an ethereal being around his intensity--without even mentioning that to see her dance is always to love her--she is perfect. I also very much liked that it was really about Villella more than it was Balanchine. Balanchine was fully respected, but he was not every other word the way it is in some documentaries about Balanchine dancers. It is enough that he owes everything to Balanchine and his choreography without having to say 'Mr. B'... 'Mr. B, this'... 'Mr. B. that'... every few seconds (and in the rehearsal with McBride with Balanchine in which 'he didn't want to be photographed', you still get fleeting glimpses of Balanchine, which is nice). This film of a Balanchine dancer was more like Nureyev's 'I am a Dancer', which might be unique among Balanchine-dancer films, and could be because Villella was Balanchine's great male star. As a film, I definitely find it better than any other I've seen about a particular dancer at work, better than Nureyev's films and better than any of those by and about other Balanchine dancers. The old Martha Graham film from the late 50s, early 60s is the only one I can think of that comes close to being a really fine film about the dancer and his/her art. There's just infinitely more about muscle and bone, how the muscles 'think' and behave, than in any other dancer films I've seen.

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According to his autobiography, he danced as much as he did because he needed the money to fund a very costly divorce.

In "Prodigal Son" he describes his morning routine, and he could only crawl when he got up until he had had long bath and massage.

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Phaedra:

I cut my teeth on Villella dancing on TV during the sixties, when they still showed ballet on television (remember that?)

That, too, was my first exposure to Villella and to ballet--on tv--Villella leaping in a full circle around a studio in stark and distorted black and white. I thought now this is really dazzling, I could really watch a lot of this sort of thing. But then I seem to have dropped the ball on that project for many years. That's perhaps why I feel compelled to go to so many performances now, to correct for that loss, but with somewhat less intense balletic experiences.

I like Patrick's take on the film, which I haven't yet seen. Villella may not have mentioned Mr B so much because he was avoiding him and working intensively with Stanley Williams, or so it seems from what I recall from "Prodigal Son."

Incidentally, there is a lovely picture of Nureyev and Stanley Williams for sale now on ebay. It's not inexpensive.

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somewhat off the ballet angle of this thread not connected to the points brought up by Mel re: the 1930s, this trading? card from the 1936 Olympics shows 4 of the sprinters from those games:

Frank Wykoff (USA), Paul Hanni (Switzerland), Ralph Metcalfe (USA), and Jesse Owens (USA).

post-848-1219618785_thumb.jpg

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This has been a remarkable thread for me -- especially since I've found myself, since moving to Florida, listening frequently to Villella's pre-performance talks for Miami City Ballet, and watching him interact with his dancers and others in his company.

My respect for the man now is actually greater today than when I saw him dance regularly at NYCB, often on TV, and when I read his autobiography.

He really does love ballet -- not all of it, but especially the part of it he grew up at NYCB with and passes on to his own company. He loves the Balancine repertoire. He loves what his dancers are capable of doing. He respects his audience.

I also very much liked that it was really about Villella more than it was Balanchine. Balanchine was fully respected, but he was not every other word the way it is in some documentaries about Balanchine dancers. It is enough that he owes everything to Balanchine and his choreography without having to say 'Mr. B'... 'Mr. B, this'... 'Mr. B. that'... every few seconds [ ... ]
He talks about Balanchine much more now. One of the thrills of watching even the youngest MCB dancers is feeling that they are just one step removed from Balanchine himself. And that they feel the connection ... and the responsibility. :)

Figurante, if you're reading this thread, it would be wonderful to hear some of your own thoughts -- and your expereinces -- regarding these issues.

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According to his autobiography, he danced as much as he did because he needed the money to fund a very costly divorce.

But this had already been going on in this film 3 years before there was marital conflict, and the current wife Janet was shown in it several times, including at their apartment and also trying to convince him not to do that 'Rubies' that night. It was hard to even find her listed on the internet, but they apparently divorced in 1970, 3 years after the performances focussed on in the film, which were in 1967, I think late fall. So he was already really over-scheduling, with the performances inside and outside NYCB. Do you think it was in his nature to want to perform almost constantly, despite the exhaustion? Of course, maybe he needed the money, they had a child, and then later I think he sued for custody, although others will know these details. The other sources I saw don't specify that Roddy is the child from the first marriage, and that there are two other children by his current wife. Anyway, Pat McBride was clearly not going through such troubles right then--but then my impression is someone in agony every time they're offstage is a very rare and especially heavy time, but in his case I suppose it may have been more frequent, I don't know.

I like Patrick's take on the film, which I haven't yet seen. Villella may not have mentioned Mr B so much because he was avoiding him and working intensively with Stanley Williams, or so it seems from what I recall from "Prodigal Son."

I like it when they talk about Balanchine regarding the dance--and would also have liked Balanchine to have been photographed in that rehearsal had he not objected. I just was glad to hear no recipes for coulibiac or roast veal and no personal advice or cute quips, a la 'Mr. B. always says...' That is all right sometimes, but it wasn't relevant to enormous physical agony, chiropractors and being determined to dance at any cost anyway. The absence of anecdotes of any kind was actually extremely refreshing; he seemed to be a kind of fantastically driven animal artist like Maria Callas, perhaps, and for this you need a solid individual profile first, secondly a disciple, which I thought came across--even if it was the only period in which he was quite like that: Alone. Anyway, thanks quiggin, I think you will love the film, and he's glorious in 'Rubies', not to mention 'Tarantella' and the others (even though in that 'Tarantella' you even see the exhaustion very pronounced onstage.)

Edited to add: There was a piece he was dancing called something that sounded like 'Palinkia', but it's not listed in the NYCB repertoire. What is this, please? Thanks.

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There was a piece he was dancing called something that sounded like 'Palinkia', but it's not listed in the NYCB repertoire. What is this, please? Thanks.

It's the Divertimento Brillante from Glinkiana. Lovely :)

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the credits for the never-easy-to-say GLINKAIANA (or GLINKIANA) follow.

Villella was filmed in this for a 1968 CBC telecast called "Le New York City Ballet," on a bill that included CONCERTO BAROCCO, DIVERTIMENTO BRILLANTE and APOLLO (see NYPL cat. entry below).

it goes w/o saying this has not been released commercially and if it were to be put on themarket it would likely be minus the Villella/McBride pas de deux.

Glinkiana : Chor: George Balanchine; mus: Mikhail Glinka; scen, cos & lighting: Esteban Francés. First perf: New York, New York State Theater, Nov 23, 1967, New York City Ballet. The second movement, Valse fantasie, was subsequently danced without the other movements and was later spelled Valse fantaisie (not the same as Balanchine's 1953 ballet, Valse-Fantaisie).

*MGZB New York City Ballet. Programs. Spring, 1968. Variant spelling: Glinkaiana.

Le New York City Ballet 1968. 63 min. : sd. b&w.

Telecast on L'heure du concert, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Narration in French. Choreography: George Balanchine. Performed by the New York City Ballet.

Concerto barocco. Music: J. S. Bach (Concerto, 2 violins & string orchestra, S. 1043, D minor) Performed by Suzanne Farrell, Marnee Morris, Conrad Ludlow, and eight members of the female corps de ballet. Glinkaiana: Divertimento brillante. Music: Mikhail Glinka. Costumes: Esteban Francés. Performed by Patricia McBride and Edward Villella. Apollon musagète. Music: Igor Stravinski. Cast: Peter Martins (Apollo), Suzanne Farrell (Terpsichore), Marnee Morris (Polymnie), Karin von Aroldingen (Calliope).

if mem. serves, Villella restaged Divertimento B. in Miami but i don't know how long it lasted.

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Thanks, chrisk217 and rg. I had read of Glinkaiana here numerous times, but never saw it. I don't think I even remember seeing it listed on programs, so that maybe it's not in the repertory that much; or I could have just missed it. Wouldn't really know Glinka's music automatically either. Is it still done by NYCB?

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Do you think it was in his nature to want to perform almost constantly, despite the exhaustion?
The absence of anecdotes of any kind was actually extremely refreshing; he seemed to be a kind of fantastically driven animal artist like Maria Callas, perhaps, and for this you need a solid individual profile first, secondly a disciple, which I thought came across--even if it was the only period in which he was quite like that: Alone.

These are (to me) remarkable and intriguing possibilities that open doors to Villella's career that I haven't seen explored before. Thanks, papeetepatrick. I'd be very interested to hear others' thoughts about these matters as well.

rg, Divertimento Brillante is listed (under that name) in MCB's repertoire, without dates. It must have been before we moved to south Florida in 2001. The only Glinka I've seen since then is Glinka Pas de Trois. Valse Fantasie is also listed in the MCB Rep -- twice, under the dates (versions?) 1953 and 1967.

Does anyone know why Glinkiana was quickly split up into separate short ballets? My dim memories of this from the late 60s was that it didn't really coher as a single long piece, anyway. It certainly made sense for Villella have offered the pdd separately when guesting or for tv. It certainly worked as an alternative to Tchaikovsky pdd, which everyone had already seen many times.

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Something else to consider:

In the late 1960s the company was undergoing an upheaval when Suzanne Farrell came onto the scene, and Mr. B started lavishing attention on her and her alone, to the detriment of the other ballerinas in the company. This affected the males as well, as the tall Jacque d'Amboise and Arthur Mitchell became the favored partners for Farrell, and the shorter Villella could not compete. From "Prodigal Son," it seems as if Villella did not resent Farrell so much as he did d'Amboise, with whom he had a testy relationship. Because of his enormous talent, Villella was able to hold his own and keep Mr. B's attention, but his overdancing may have been a way to make sure he stayed on the radar in the minds of both Mr. B and the public.

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the only section of the longer ballet still seen at NYCB is VALSE FANTASIE (from the '67 GLINKAIANA and performed by itself for the first time in '69). during the Bal. Cel. the ballet was was given in both the '53 version - still danced by MCB, showcasing one male dancer and 3 more or less equal female soloists - as well as the later GLINKAIANA version, reworked by Balanchine for 1 male and female lead, w/ an group of 4 women. this doubling-up however hasn't happened since, and i think all one can likely expect is the later version, until another celebrational season rolls around.

i don't know if any co. other than MCB does the '53 version nowadays, nor for that matter, what companies have the later version now in repertory.

(Fokine choreographed both the Valse F. (part 2 of GLINKAIANA) and the Jota Aragonese (part 3 of GLINKAIANA.) For all i know he might also have tackled at some point the Polka and the Divertimento B, (parts 1 and 4 respectivelyof GLINKAIANA.)

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I sure would like to see "the Man who Dances."

Villella is a performing animal. I was once attending a conference he was speaking at, we both got caught in an elevator, and in hte five minutes we were tstuck in there he told me 15 stories at least, with FULL moxie and eyes sparkling. And I was nobody, dressed down, just there to hear the talks. THe man is an entertainer -- and so is Jacques d'Amboise -- they might well have been rivals, for both are hungry for the chance to make you enjoy their company. i'm a total fan.

Bart wrote: "Does anyone know why Glinkiana was quickly split up into separate short ballets? My dim memories of this from the late 60s was that it didn't really cohere as a single long piece, anyway. It certainly made sense for Villella have offered the pdd separately when guesting or for tv. It certainly worked as an alternative to Tchaikovsky pdd, which everyone had already seen many times.

Bart, have you SEEN "Divertimento Brillante"? From what I remember of the production RG mentions, the CBC broadcast, it could NEVER substitute in hte public's affections for Tarantella; it's not very likable, the music and hte dancing are both brittle and geeky and hectic in their phrasing -- the piano part is written so as to encourage capricious rhythms, sort of cadenza-like, so it never builds up any sweep or momentum -- it is the opposite in its appeal from Tarantella, which builds and builds and overwhelms us with delight.

The suite may well have felt "uncohesive." Valse Fantaisie is also odd - rhythmically odd, since (if I remember right) its phrases are 3 bars long -- DAAAH,dumbaDAHdah, DAAAH,dumbaDAHdah, which disturbs most hearer's expectations (since usually everything always comes in twos or fours), so hte whole surge of it -- and it does surge, surges a LOT, feels like pretty big waves on the sea of galilee...

Glinka is a VERY great composer, he is to Russian music what Pushkin is to Russian literature, the genius who could suddenly do everything when before there was nothing. When SF Opera did his "Russlan and Lyudmila" here a decade or so ago (with Bakst's designs and Fokine's choreography, same version Balanchine danced in as a student), everybody went out of hteir minds, because it was delightful as Rossini, spectacularly beautiful, staggeringly great theater, and capable of hilarity of hte most champagne-like frothiness and we had no idea. (Here's the overture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HX-gR-zzZgc...eature=related; a Russian would probably conduct it even faster. you'll notice when it works itself up to sounding Polonaisy, it sounds Tchaikovskian, like the finale of Diamonds or Theme and Variations.)

Amazingly inventive, and beautifully sustained. All Russians seem to revere him like Tchaikovsky; certainly Balanchine. Gergeyev conducts

the Mazurka from his "A life for the Czar" as the big musical finale to "Russian Ark," the ballroom scene at the Hermitage http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEaRgxJ8NNU.

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Canbelto said

it seems as if Villella did not resent Farrell so much as he did d'Amboise, with whom he had a testy relationship

Villella said in Prodigal Son that d'Amboise played some tricks on him--they may have been tests and puckish jokes of sorts, but Villilla took them quite seriously. d'Amboise may have wanted to be the only man at NYCB, in the same way Susan Sontag and Mary McCarthy wanted to be the only women among men.

I like Patrick's call (at least I take it as such) for a period of abstinence from stories about Mr. B's stories. For Balanchine the story materials may have been protective devices in a some way, so that the real Balanchine could really be thinking about the choreography and the next steps to himself.

Thanks Paul for the clip, it's a great performance of the Glinka overture--is it Barenboim? but he seems so vivacious. I don't think Glinka is the Pushkin of Russian music, maybe, not a bad thing, the bubbly Tatiana Tolstoya. Glinka doesn't develop as much as Tchaikovsky does I think. I do agree though that the music is champagne-like in the best sense.

Thanks too for the Russian Ark clip--it's a great film--the great one reeler of life (it's all done in one shot). I had forgotten how delightful and at the same time profoundly moving it is. Gergiev by the way is doing four Prokofiev symphonies here in San Francisco with the London Symphony Orchestra in March--single tickets just went on sale.

Gergiev also did the full, three hour version of Sleeping Beauty with LSO for the Proms--temporarily on line at BBC Proms What's On portal. Both performances got raves in the Financial Times.

Back to Villella...

Edited 8/26. Poster's remorse--too long.

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I like Patrick's call (at least I take it as such) for a period of abstinence from stories about Mr. B's stories. For Balanchine the story materials may have been protective devices in a some way, so that the real Balanchine could really be thinking about the choreography and the next steps to himself.

Thanks quiggin, I wouldn't say it's quite a general call for a 'period of abstinence' from charming Mr. B. anecdotes (although we've all heard a lot of them), but just noticing when they serve a purpose and when they don't (as in a very serious sort of film like this one on Villella) and may serve as a protective device not so much for Balanchine as for some of his dancers and perhaps others. Although your point is probably well-taken on that, at least his own use does make sense and has logic, whereas too much quoting of them by some of the dancers tends to point up their own not having something to say that is more their own--at least some of time. In other words, if he needed them as a protective device, a certain amount of real control was necessary for him to exercise his dominance, but that is not threatened by the dancers being able to express some individuality of their own, without too much resorting to quotes from the master. And if they can't say a lot of it with their own expression, then the loss of individuality 'to a greater power' is maybe a little too apparent (although I'm sure there are plenty who feel this submission can never be enough, no matter who the master.) Villella is different from most of them in that his individuality asserts itself no matter what, perhaps more strongly than any at least of whom I've been aware. As Bart points out, he talks about Balanchine more now, but in this film--which is not just about a dancer, but about a very serious, intense moment: That evening performance of 'Rubies', if a certain injury occurs, may destroy his whole career--Balanchine is always honoured by what Villella says about the ballets themselves, e.g., in one of his quite thrilling rhapsodies he starts naming all the ballets he loves to dance in and they are, of course, all Balanchine ballets. What greater homage except to then go and dance them over and over? I mainly meant that in this film that it was all right to leave out 'Dear, you don't understand...' and 'But what does it mean?' 'Nothing', etc. Villella's relationship with Balanchine is inspiring, moving, but Villella by himself is also deeply affecting, not least that wonderful operatic smile--you can easily see that face in a lot of Verdi roles.

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Of course, maybe he needed the money, they had a child, and then later I think he sued for custody,

Babies are expensive. A family to support and a less than amicable divorce later on, as Helene noted, explain the need for funds fairly readily. Also, from Villella’s account it sounds as if the marriage didn’t go so well generally. Maybe he was just looking to get out of the house. However, as Paul says, he was a performing animal.

I also very much liked that it was really about Villella more than it was Balanchine. Balanchine was fully respected, but he was not every other word the way it is in some documentaries about Balanchine dancers.

That probably has something to do with the concept – the ballerinas interviewed in ‘Dancing for Mr. B,’ for example, are there to talk about, well, dancing for Mr. B, and many dancers are interviewed in films made primarily about Balanchine and not centered on their own careers. (Farrell talks about Balanchine a lot but then it could hardly be otherwise, given her story and the structure of ‘Elusive Muse.’)

In addition, because Villella was a man I suspect he would go out of his way, consciously or otherwise, to establish his independence of the big guy. A woman wouldn’t feel the need to do this, not in the same way.

And if they can't say a lot of it with their own expression, then the loss of individuality 'to a greater power' is maybe a little too apparent (although I'm sure there are plenty who feel this submission can never be enough, no matter who the master.) Villella is different from most of them in that his individuality asserts itself no matter what, perhaps more strongly than any at least of whom I've been aware.

Melissa Hayden, to take only one example, could speak very clearly and cogently for herself. Villella is not in general as deferential as many former Balanchine dancers, but then his love-hate relationship with him was more complex. I have not seen this documentary, but if it was focused more on Villella alone as opposed to a Me-and-Mr-B type of thing, that would make a difference both in the questions asked and how they were answered.

Villella said in Prodigal Son that d'Amboise played some tricks on him--they may have been tests and puckish jokes of sorts, but Villilla took them quite seriously. d'Amboise may have wanted to be the only man at NYCB, in the same way Susan Sontag and Mary McCarthy wanted to be the only women among men.

I think a rivalry between the two men was natural and probably inevitable, given their personalities and ambitions. I don’t know that d’Amboise wanted to be the ‘only man’ but he surely wanted to be number one, not unreasonable or unprecendented. Any male performer of Villella’s caliber would be a threat and some jostling for position only to be expected. As Paul mentions, they were both similar in their audience appeal and and their appetite for the stage.

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Paul, thanks for your explanatiaons about the Glinka pieces. I think there is some confusion about the following, however:

Bart wrote:
"Does anyone know why Glinkiana was quickly split up into separate short ballets? My dim memories of this from the late 60s was that it didn't really cohere as a single long piece, anyway. It certainly made sense for Villella have offered the pdd separately when guesting or for tv. It certainly worked as an alternative to Tchaikovsky pdd, which everyone had already seen many times.

Bart, have you SEEN "Divertimento Brillante"? From what I remember of the production RG mentions, the CBC broadcast, it could NEVER substitute in hte public's affections for Tarantella; it's not very likable, the music and hte dancing are both brittle and geeky and hectic in their phrasing -- the piano part is written so as to encourage capricious rhythms, sort of cadenza-like, so it never builds up any sweep or momentum -- it is the opposite in its appeal from Tarantella, which builds and builds and overwhelms us with delight.

I was thinking of the Glinka pdd as an alternative to the Tchaikovsky -- not that they are similar, so much, as that the both offered audience-pleasing opportunities for the dancers.

I'm grateful to those who have spoken of Villella as a stage animal. I sometimes get to see him introduce the same MCB program 3 or 4 times, and I've been amazed at how confidently, consistently, smoothly he does it. What comes to mind is not the young Villella dancing; it's more like the older Sinatra singing -- mellow, beautifully spun out, with just a hint of the schmooze.

He always walks out from the break in the curtain, center stage. A mike and stool await him. He appears almost shy when entering, as if not knowing what to expect. Then he sits and talks. Sometimes he says the same things, word for word, in each presentation. At other times, he takes off in an improvised and entirely unexpected direction.

You can tell which ballets he prefers by the amount of time he devotes to them. Some works, get very little time indeed. Balanchine -- always -- is the Gold Standard. It's fascinating to observe.

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I have not seen this documentary, but if it was focused more on Villella alone as opposed to a Me-and-Mr-B type of thing, that would make a difference both in the questions asked and how they were answered.

It's a documentary in a literal sense, but not a reminiscing sort, and little biography. It's focussed mostly on this very short period in 1967, and there are no questions asked as such within the film. You see Villella talking, and he would have been responding to something or not that was suggested, but there would have been much that was cut to make the film--this makes it have more of a 'real film' quality rather than the usual 'at home with and up close to and personal...' documentary. The Bronx High School thing was, I believe, a separate television broadcast from even earlier. The way it is edited and cut is what makes it more like a film rather than the usual documentary, because the parts about the physical agony and the actual performing are what dominate it. Condensing it in this way makes it much more dramatic, rather than concentrating on his family background growing up, etc. So that it's more about a sense of immediacy and a moment in a specific present than a comprehensive thing about the whole milieu and/or history of his past. It's that sense of immediacy which set it apart from the Nureyev films I've seen.

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I got a little curious about this "documentary" The Man who Dances that everyone refers to and Patrick describes as if it were a short story, so I did a little digging. The film didn't come out of nowhere, it was made by Robert Drew who made the film Primary about JFK and Hubert Humphrey and gave documentary film making in America a new life.

Leacock and Pennebaker came out of Drew Associates and they made A Stravinsky Portrait (more Leacock than Pennebaker I think) with the great single shot of a fascinatingly intimate but self-conscious throwaway glance between Balanchine and Suzanne Farrell. Albert Mayseles who did Grey Gardens comes out of Drew Associates, too.

This was American cinema vertite' and it paralleled the work of Jean Rouch (Chronicle of a Summer and a film about lion hunting where there is an apology given to the lion before killing it) and very early Godard (All Boys are Named Patrick and Le Petit Soldat) that were so influential to young filmmakers at one time (disclaimer, etc.). All of this came out of the of the Dzigza Vertov ("truth at 24 frames per second": Godard) with whom Balanchine probably would have had a lot in common.

Sorry for the long digression, but it may explain some of the deeper esthetic behind the film, which may at first glance seem perfectly casual and found-object like.

My second bit of digging was at IMDB where there is a nice Villella bio that lists his Toast of the Town performances.

And the Museum of Television (now passing as the Paley Center for the Media) lists intriguing Villella projects from the Armstrong Circle Theatre era (Armstrong made floor tiles) such as Carousel, for which Villella did the choreography, and Brigadoon (with Peter Falk) which was choreographed by Peter Gennaro.

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