The Dance: The Essential Instant

Choreographer George Balanchine conceived his ballet, the Prodigal Son, as a poem of bitter passions, a lantern carried into the darkness to light an anguished face. Balanchine responded to Prokofiev's music by composing a gymnastic grotesquerie, free of all the gestures of classical ballet. The only dancer to perform the title role since Prodigal Son was revived by Balanchine's New York City Ballet four years ago has been Edward Villella, whose athletic command of the part was soon being praised as a great dance portrayal. Last week, to open the new season,...

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