Thanks, Quiggin, for that information about the Verdy dvd.
While dipping into Robert Gottlieb's Reading Dance, I found Edwin Denby's long interview with Robbins: "Dances at a Gathering." (pp. 1157-1166), which is worth checking out.
On another thread, kfw posted two YouTube clips of Manuel Legris and of Simon Valastro dancing the Villella variation in a (to me) inappropriately "big ballet". (Grand jetes: ta-DAH, ta-DAH
! All wrong somehow.)
Here's Robbins discussing how Edward Villella's gentler, more reticent version was developed:
At so many rehearsals, they didn't dance all out. They sort of walked. That's how I got Eddie to do that first variation the first night. He came into rehearsal and had to save himself for the performance and just marked through it. I ran back and said, "Now, that's what I want." The same with Allegra -- when she marks something she shoes ou what it is. I don't think they realize how trained they are -- so clear. Like someone with a great voice who can whisper and you hear it. And that's what you see. And that's what they do.
This helped to to understand why I have had a hard time responding emotionally to some of the revivals of Dances I've seen.