Based on this, what I've read, and what Villella said in the pre-performance talks, I'm assuming that these are really two different ballets (not the case with Apollo). Villella himself focused on a major difference: 1967 has a lead couple and a small corps; 1953 has one man dancing with 3 women, and a great deal of solo work. In other words, "no couple," which allows for the grace and innocence of the world the dancers create. The lack of a conventional "couple" in the 1953 version seems to have intrigued Villella.
While both have many merits, they are similar only in sweep and lightness; little links the two choreographically.
Cristian, I'm glad you mentioned hair, because I had a couple of strong feelings about this during the weekend.
-- (1) Penteado looks great -- and much freer -- without the wig. There's nothing in MCB's rep which he couldn't perform just as effectively with a shaved head. That includes Siegfried and Albrecht, in my opinion, though this might be controversial. It certainly includes the Balanchine, Robbins and Taylor pieces. I hope he commits to the more natural look for the future.
-- (2) Callie Manning, looking stunning in both the Tharp and as the Strip Tease Girl in Slaughter. I don't know what you call that shortish but very fluffy, curley look, but it was eye-catching, good for dancing in, and very attractive. Hair that is too l-o-n-g can become distracting in ballet, especially when it sticks over the nose or something like that. This happened several times to Kronenberg (whose hair is long and very full) in Slaughter. No such problems with Manning's hairdo.
Re: Slaughter. Villella seems to be committed to multiple casting, at least as far as the Strip Tease Girl is concerned. I missed the Saturday matinee, in which Patricia Delgado took the role. (Thanks, Buddy, for that information.) Amanda Weingarten will be performing in Fort Lauderdale. Manning was a very pleasant surprise in this role. She has one of the most beautiful dancer's bodies in ballet, but sometimes seems a little tense in performance. She has seemed to have an affinity for darker roles: the Coquette in Sonnambula, for example. As the Strip Tease Girl, however, she blossomed. Her extensions and battements were even more dramatic and reckless (though perfectly perfomed) than Kronenberg's. It was a beautiful performance: sexy, risk-taking, intelligent, passionate -- and completely unexpected.
Re: Golden Section. the "first cast" (the caste that Macaulay saw) was superb, even when several roles were switched. At the Sunday matinee, there was an almost entirely different cast (either new to the cast or dancing different roles). This cast seemed significantly less rehearsed. There were confusions, a few new collisions, and problems with one of those excessively complicated lifts that Tharp likes to plop into her choreography from time to time. This was the first time I've seen an MCB performance in which I found myself thinking: this is not ready for the stage. That was unfortunate -- and unfair, I think, to the dances: because there were wonderful dancers on stage (Baker in the Wong role; Kronenberg in the Patricia Delgado role; Rebecca King in the Catoya role; Bramaz in the Penteado role -- not to mention corps member Nicole Stalker and two very promising student apprentices, Renan Cerdeiro and Alexandre Ferreira. It was just one of those times when the ensemble doesn't work even when the individual dancers are aoing fine.
Re: Divertimento. Ordinarily, I like to sit in odd locations in the house: side boxes, etc. Divertimento is a ballet that really needs to be seen from the center. So much of it is danced (and posed) directly facing the audience. For that reason, the Sunday matinee, which I saw from front-center orchestra, was the best performance for me. Tricia Albertson, as the lead ballerina, was at her best: fleet, graceful, and radiant. The ballet also was my second chance to see principal Katia Carranza, back from Mexico to dance in Programs II and III. What a joy to have Carranza back on stage again.
Re" Diamonds Pas de Deux. This was a dream-like performance each time I saw it. Instead of the usual palace ballroom setting, with dramatic crystal chandeliers, there was a black velvet back curtain scattered with stars. Perhaps that was what made me imagine Seay and Nikitine as celestial bodies moving slowly through outer space. I don't have the words to describe it. Fortunately, I looked up what Nancy Goldner had to say about the pas de deux in Balanchine Variations.
Seay is not a large and grand dancer in the style of Farrell. She is, however, a dancer of purity and honesty. In this peformance, dancing with her husband, Seay was able to express qualities of warmth and rapport (never sentimental, never romantic) that I don't remember from her performances in previous years.
Melancholy does indeed pervade the music, and so the dance. There's another kind of loneliness, too, which is odd considering the ardent attention paid to her byher partner. The ballerina in Diamonds moves in a kind of solitary splendor. She is not self-absorbed llike the Paul character in Emeralds, but her movements, so grand and large, register like syjmbols of adagio dancing.
EDITED TO ADD: Thanks to Jack Reed for catching my mistake in typing the name of the author of Balanchine Variations as Nancy "Reynolds" rather than "Nancy Goldner." I've corrected it above.