The Greatest Ballet That Never Was

Ballet dancer Jacques d’Amboise is interviewed by Yona Zeldis McDonough (for the Paris Review‘s website) about his autobiography, I Was a Dancer, and the subject of the great choreographer Balanchine comes up:

There’s a line in the memoir that I love: “With [Jerry] Robbins, you were amplified; with Balanchine, you were transformed.”

I think it’s the single best line in my book. And I think it came from a conversation. I was talking with Kay Gaynor and other people about trying to describe what Robbins did and what Balanchine did. One was the transformation of what you already were, and the other was what you didn’t realize you were capable of being. Jerry took what you are, watched you, studied you, and then amplified it and used it. Balanchine looked, and said, “Oh, very beautiful girl, very nice—I bet she could move faster. Maybe she could be a pony. Maybe I’ll do a ballet about ponies.”

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