By Edward Villella
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Additional info for Prodigal Son: Dancing for Balanchine in a World of Pain and Magic
They jumped up out of their seats, formed a line that ringed the room, and were standing in their version of first position. The moment I charged in out of breath, they all did a grand plie. We all burst out laughing and then scurried back to our seats as the teacher arrived. He'd been late, too. Dance continued to eat away at me. By the start of my senior year, my frustration had mounted to a breaking point. I complained all the time. " Then I started to twitch, a nervous habit from childhood that surfaced when I felt pressure I couldn't handle.
To everyone in the New York City Ballet, Balanchine was the holder of all knowledge, the provider, and he sheltered us. He was a genius. We all wanted to give ourselves to him, and everyone wanted to be the primary object of his interest. We were all always striving to be number one, but the men knew they could never be. At the time I joined the company, there were several young dancers who were inspiring Balanchine. Diana Adams was one. She was tall with long limbs, beautiful proportions, and a good technique.
But I was determined not to stop. That year during our annual European cruise, I had a friend, a naval engineer, hook up a DC transformer in the stateroom I shared with three other cadets. I put an LP, Music Recorded for Ballet Class Under the Supervision of Alexandra Danilova, on my record player and gave myself class. I locked everyone out of the cabin, closed the portholes, and worked two hours every day at sea. My roommates returned to the cabin when I was finished and complained about the odor in graphic terms.