I remembered a piece by Croce where she discussed Donn as a good candidate for the "man in trousers" (as opposed to "man in tights") roles in the Balanchine repertory, but couldn't find it in either "After Images" or "Going to the Dance." She did mention his debut in "Vienna Waltzes" in passing, though, calling it "tactful."
There were several good comments on this thread that I wanted to pick up. First, Ari's (that Estelle quoted, too):
By the same token, when an innovative choreographer premieres a new ballet, it's easy to see only its unusual aspects, and that may equate to "unclassical" in some people's eyes. So I get very uneasy when people start pigeonholing works of art as though there were clean, bright lines between categories that are always obvious.
I think the point Ari made that often only the unusual aspects are seen is very true -- often, too, it's only the surface aspects that are noticed. Some of the quotes in Rep in Review stressed that the classicism was under the surface. I'd also agree that there aren't clean, bright lines between categories, and that the ground is always shifting. But I don't think that means one abandons trying. Skimming through Rep in Review again this afternoon, I noticed the Butler and Cullberg ballets -- the crossover dance of their day -- were in rep, and there wasn't an outcry over this, just discussion of the works on their merits, or demerits. I think this was because the core of the company was so solidly ballet -- far too conservative for many -- that it wasn't an issue. They were novelties, taken in as an experiment, or to suit a dancer.
Leigh's comment about Four Ts ("The shapes and their plastique are distorted off the classical axis") made me think about how much we consider straight lines part of classicism today, but that wasn't always so. I think this is a post-1950 phenomenon, at least in Western ballet. There are off-center solos in bits of 19th century and early 20th century choreography -- the woman's solo in "La Vivandiere," the third man's solo in "Napoli Act III" -- and it's hard to find a straight line in the earlier photos of Bournonville ballet. In a grouping from Sylphide, Act I, for example, where the Sylph, James, Gurn and Madge are standing together, they're tilted, as though bent by a strong wind, and there are many other examples of this. And Fokine's axis was off-center; in "Les Sylphides," wrote Chase in Charles Payne's book on ABT, the sylphs tilt forward a bit, the spine is curved. I think the definition of classicism has become restrictive, as though it's only "Concerto Barocco" or "Shades." There's no room for the character classicism Barnes mentioned, though that was once a huge part of ballet -- and a way for ballet to deal with darker, inward looking contemporary material.