Posted 06 May 2013 - 07:48 AM
In the 50s, when I was a teen-ager, I had liked some of the ballet music I had heard on records, and it seemed a natural extension of my explorations to take myself to have a look at the ballets themselves when they were brought to Chicago (where I lived then and still do).
I'm not sure which of a handful of memories is the absolute first one, but I enjoyed Rodeo, which must have been Ballet Theater's; I was charmed by the animated stage pictures of what must have been the BRdMC Petrouchka, from which I remember coming away wondering whether that was a well-trained animal or a dancer in a very good bear costume in the Fourth Tableaux (I had been to the circus, too, you see); and, last but not least, watching NYCB's Firebird get under way, I had been, first, fascinated by the alternating confidence and fear shown by Moncion's lucid (but of course silent) movement, and, then, stunned beyond belief - like the rest of the house - by Tallchief's spectacular entrance as the Firebird. It brought the house down, and I had to see it again, the following night.
But although there was some dancing in weekend variety shows on television, I don't remember any ballet there until I had been firmly hooked - by a performance of Rubies, by NYCB on tour at the Ravinia Festival in the mid 60s - and I had heard that there was some on PBS. I didn't even own a television until Merrill Brockway's "Dance in America" program gave me a good view of Les Patineurs and Billy the Kid at a friend's home, but that experience persuaded me to buy one. (And that improved my cooking: After I bought a television, I discovered Julia Child.)