I haven’t said much about Apollo because it doesn’t activate my thrill centers as much as the other two ballets. Balanchine’s compositional tactics in the earlier work are less intricate, more soloistic. What he didn’t do — a young man’s deliberate contrariness, perhaps — was make it “Greek” in the diaphanous manner of Isadora Duncan, Michel Fokine, and innumerable other animators of ancient sculptures who preceded him. His Apollo and Muses are noble but human, dancers on holiday making up games on the beach.
I can’t quite assimilate the mystique of Apollo as Balanchine’s first major ballet and the icon of classical beauty. The ballet is hard to see against the æsthetic reverence that shrouds it, and the long line of great dancers who’ve relived it. I’ve seen Peter Martins, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and other gods in this role, and I don’t know how dancers are able to reimagine it now.
Former New York City Ballet dancer Ben Huys staged Apollo for Boston. The whole program received the invaluable coaching of Merrill Ashley on behalf of the Balanchine Trust, and the other assisting régisseurs were Sandra Jennings and Russell Kaiser. Unless you follow the company to Spain this summer, you won’t see these gems again after Sunday.
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