Balanchine’s Harlequinade (1965) cycles through our rep only rarely, and it has been absent for over a decade. I was an Alouette when it last ran, and since the birds don’t appear in Act I, I had never seen it before. So I sat in the audience and watched the dress rehearsal. I was surprised to discover a cribbed verbatim sequence in the children’s choreography. The little girls who play the mini-Harlequins attack Columbine’s dopey suitor Léandre with the same choreography that the adult fairies in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1962) employ to attack Puck. Both groups wield sticks, encircle their prey, and go on the offensive with attitude sauté chassé drives. I guess when you have nailed a balletic stick assault you have nowhere else to go with it!
But this isn’t the only bit of recycling going on in Harlequinade. There are the Rouben Ter-Arutunian sets which were originally used for New York City Opera’s production of Cinderella. The plot is