In 1960, George Balanchine revived The Prodigal Son—choreographed back in 1929—for a rising star at the New York City Ballet, Edward Villella. While coaching Villella in the pas de deux between the Prodigal and the Siren, a leggy femme fatale who seduces the young man, Balanchine gave him a key piece of imagery: “You know, dear, like icons.” Villella says he “went and got some books. Then I could realize the role.” Boy did he ever. I had the luck to see Villella coach the role in Boston, back in the 1980s, and even in rehearsal he was the most brilliant Prodigal I’ve ever seen. On February 22, “City Ballet The Podcast” features the man himself on the subject of The Prodigal Son. On February 23, “Inside NYCB” focuses on the role of the Siren, running rehearsal footage and interviewing principal dancer Maria Kowroski. And on February 25, NYCB releases a recent archival performance of The Prodigal Son, starring Daniel Ulbricht and Teresa Reichlen. Coming weeks see similar explorations of Balanchine’s Theme and Variations and Stravinsky Violin Concerto. Both the “Inside NYCB” episode and the performance stream will be available for viewing on NYCB’s Web site and YouTube channel until Thursday, March 4. —L.J.
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