Music: Balanchine Puzzler

The audience was perplexed. What was George Balanchine trying to do, anyhow? One week be premiered his rollicking, straightforward Western Symphony with his New York City Ballet (TIME, Sept. 20), then he turned around and dished out this weird puzzler called Ivesiana. The music, which was by that half-legendary New Englander, the late Charles Ives, was peculiar enough, with its crotchety rhythms and its wispy dissonances—but what happened on stage was even odder.

In the first movement, for instance, a macabre pattern of faces appeared out of the darkness. The two principals seemed to be looking for something, then danced up to...

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