Has anyone actually seen a performance of this ballet? Or know about what it was like or how it was received, either in 1951 or in one of its subsequent stagings?
I have learned from Choreography by George Balanchine: a Catalogue of Works that tghe premiere was at the City Center (NYC) in Sept. 1951, with an original cast of Janet Reed, Maria Tallchief, Andre Eglevsky, Frank Hobi, and Roy Tobias. Subsequent stagings include: San Francisco Ballet (1953), Eglevsky Ballet (1964), San Diego (1981) and Kansas City (1982. It was performed on television on the Kate Smith Hour in 1953.
Nancy Reynolds, in Repertory in Review, includes a frequently reproduced photo of Eglevsky and a tennis player (described as "the Dandy" in Macaulay's review).
Macaulay's piece makes it sound delightful -- AND something that a Balanchine follower ought to have the chance to see.
The following is especially intriguing:
“À la Françaix,” the third item on the program, shows us a flippant side of Balanchine we don’t often see today. Its five characters are (as named in the program) two Sailors, a Flirt, a Dandy and a Sylph. The Flirt does nicely with the Sailors until the Dandy (with handlebar mustache and a tennis racket: the role created by André Eglevsky) strikes her as better fare. The two are dancing promisingly together when along comes the Sylph (dressed in traditional Romantic-ballet attire, soft calf-length dress and floral headdress), who distracts him. He forgets about the Flirt; she even tugs at his trouser leg, but to no avail, and she departs, leaving him with the Sylph.
But you know how it is with sylphs: they come, but then they go. So, after experiencing this alluring little vision of otherness, our Dandy soon returns to the Flirt and starts a pretty duet with her. Sure enough, the Sylph (danced originally by Maria Tallchief) soon reappears. (This actually is the best way to bring any self-respecting sylph back into play.) This time, the Flirt no sooner sees her ethereal rival than she, very funnily giving up the game without a moment’s further ado, droops all over in the Dandy’s arms.
And the Sylph now clinches matters by removing her outer sylph layer. Underneath she’s a bathing beauty in a bright pink mini-dress.
At every point you can feel Balanchine’s freedom in making new coinage from old currency.