Dancer Deena Budd. Photographer Steve Wilson.
Dancer Deena Budd. Photographer Steve Wilson.

Choreography: Francisco Moncion
Music: Charles Turner

When the New York City Ballet premiered Pastorale in 1957, critics described it as charming and touching. The ballet tells the story of a lonely blind boy whose solitude as he sites in the shade of a cluster of trees is interrupted by four young couples who play a game of blind man’s bluff. The girl who is blind-folded makes contact with the boy, without, of course, knowing that he cannot see. She becomes emotionally involved with the boy, but is not quite able to cope with the additional complications such a relationship must mean. The situation ends with three isolated figures all touched with sadness.

Composer Charles Turner was commissioned to write the music and as he played parts of a tune, Moncion said he pictured an outdoor setting, something sporty. “I saw a group entering, then a variation and then I thought of making one man blind,” said Moncion discussing the role he created and performed in the world premiere. “I wanted the blind man completely independent, not evoking sympathy or sorrow, just whatever came.”

“Moncion is particularly successful in establishing the delicate balance of shifting relationships as the character of the girl develops,” according to one review. “He is at his best at the opening of the pas de deux when the blind-folded girl and boy pass each other repeatedly, separated by no more than a hair-breath.”

Artistic director Todd Bolender describes the ballet as a very sensitive work. “It’s ballet of sweet nostalgia; a delicate work that’s very evocative with so many layers of meanings,” says Bolender. “To some, the ballet offers a sweet remembrance of youth, to others, a tragic feeling of loss.”

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