Two weeks after joining New York City
Ballet, I was stunned to learn that I
was going to dance Jerome Robbins’
Afternoon of a Faun. I had only just
reentered the world of classical ballet
again after spending four years at the
New York State Maritime College,
and everything was still a mystery to
me, from warming up to rehearsals, to
expectations and, especially, the music.
The scores were not easy to decipher.
Many of the movements had just been
You can imagine me going in
thinking, Oh well, it’s just a bunch of
steps. That’s really what I thought.
My training at the School of American
Ballet had focused on the technique
of traditional, academic positions. I’d
been noticed there because I could
jump and beat. But I was in for a
shock: This ballet would be the first
step in my journey to discovering how
much more there was to dancing than
just doing a bunch of steps.
Jerry had reinterpreted the original
Nijinsky Faun, contemporized it and
placed it in a ballet studio. It was essentially dramatic movement—something
Becoming an Artist
What did George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins want out of the dancers who
performed their choreography? Former New York City Ballet star Edward Villella
recounts his journey to discovering all that lies beyond the steps.
and Jerome Robbins
rehearse Edward Villella
in Pulcinella in 1972