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Les Gentilhommes, a ballet for nine men, foregoes bravura to showecase the exquisite, elegant movement qualities of the Company’s male dancers.
Through costume and movement, the gentlemen of the title suggest 18th-century courtiers: elegant, skilled in the gentlemanly arts of dancing and fencing, and governed by the courtly rules for social behavior. Peter Martins created the ballet, in 1987, as a tribute to Stanley Williams, who taught for many years at the School of American Ballet and was particularly treasured for his men’s classes; he also taught Mr. Martins, at the Royal Danish Ballet School.
In an interview in Dance Magazine, Mr. Martins said, “In Gentilhommes, I didn’t want to make a big bravura piece, showing beats and double air turns, but showing how elegantly and beautifully men can move.” The ballet is for nine men, and it is filled with intricate arrangements of steps and unexpected shifts of energy and direction, as well as quieter moments of reflection and repose.
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