I hope this isn't too OFF TOPIC or too much of a diversion from a fascinating discussion, but I'd like to return briefly to the dancer who gave a "hearty winking laugh and devilish look directly at the audience" during the run-around-the-stage near the end of Rubies. Here's Alistair Macaulay in the NY Times, who saw several PNB casts, including the one at issue:
The Pacific Northwest “Rubies” at once showed what had been missing from Miami City Ballet’s recent New York performances of this dance: fun, repartee, naughtiness, even devilry. The Seattle audience, rightly, kept laughing out loud.
This doesn't quite square with Robert Garis's account Villella's original peformances, published in Following Balanchine
The high point, at which Villella circled the stage with his gang, crystallized the period-piece nostalgia and parody you sensed throughout the ballet -- it looked like a trick-cyclists' actd. But its loose carefree charm was fiercely charged by Villella's brilliant speed, and the spins as he left the stage were just this side of violence.
In the accompanying Martha Swope photo, 2 of his gang are running alongside Villella, looking at him, and grinning. As for Villella himself -- his eyes are almost closed. There is a kind of blissful grin on his face. This man doesn't have to charm or seduce anyone outside the scene -- he IS
Villella himself, in his autobiography, says that Balanchine put Villella's own background into this role:
The section after the pas de deux in which I dance with the boys chasing me was straight out of my street days in Queens. It was as if he had tapped into my memory. There was always a leader of the pack in those days, always a chain of kids behind him. The movement called for self-assured, cocky gestures. It was aggressive and reminded me of playing roller hockey. Home turf all the way.
That is the image of the role that sticks in my mind. I recall a number of reactions: excitement, release, thunderous applause. I even can accept the image of what Arlene Croce called Villella's "elfin charm" in the role -- and Nancy Goldner's description of this section as a "merry chase." But an entire audience "laughing out loud"? That I don't remember. That's what Fancy Free is for.