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Set to a one-movement score with three underlying sections, Ballade is a series of pas de deux and solos for a ballerina and her cavalier, accompanied at times by a corps of 10 women.
Merrill Ashley, on whom the ballet was choreographed, has written: "My [the ballerina's] partner appears, disappears and reappears, our fleeting encounters seeming to suggest both strong desires and vague yearnings ... At the end, we face each other, clasping hands, and then withdraw in an exact reversal of our first entrance, each returning to his own private world."
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