Stretched to the extreme as she begins in a low-slung position mirrored by Mr. Soto, she moves her leg eventually into a split up her partner's chest. The most acrobatic of embraces is followed by a ceremonial dance for all, full of floating veils kicked up by flicks of a leg. Mr. Soto's performance is especially likable: light in his leaps and beats but solid as a masculine foil, he exudes grace without exaggeration.
I don't remember seeing this revival, but I think the movement passage Kisselgoff delicately describes here is the one shown in a sequence of three Fred Fehl photos in B. H. Haggin's Ballet Chronicle
on page 172: In the first picture, we see Kent suspended in an inverted split between Villella's legs, looking up at him, her arms outstretched behind her, he hunched over her, hands under her hips. Thus, reminiscent in some ways perhaps of the pas de deux
of the Siren and the Prodigal Son in that ballet, their contact is crotch-to-crotch, although as I hope I've made clear, in submission, she doesn't support herself, in contrast to the dominant Siren, who does.
In the second picture, Villella has straightened up, even begun to lean back, and has raised Kent against his torso; her legs are bent now, the left one over his left shoulder, and with her arms still outstretched behind her, she looks toward the front. The third shot shows more upward progress: Villella, still gripping her waist and hips, has bent back so Kent is upright, straddling his chest sideways - that left leg is still bent behind his neck - and has grabbed her right foot with her left hand. (Sound contorted? At the time of the premiere, some critics, like P. W. Manchester in Dance News
, objected to this aspect, while admiring the ensembles, according to Nancy Reynolds' "Repertory in Review".) Having said that, I'll add that I don't have any problems with the "contortions" myself.
In the video cubanmiamiboy
has posted, where Villella talks about Bugaku
, he uses the word "erotic" twice, including, emphatically, at the end; I think this is what he had in mind, and as it premiered in New York early in the '60s, when cultural limits were being tested, I think it may have been the occasion for the line, "If the cops knew what was going on here, they'd shut it down!"