A La Francaix
Choreographed in 1951 to music of the French neoclassical composer Jean Françaix, A La Françaix shows a rarely seen lighter or humorous side of George Balanchine’s choreography. Balanchine apparently liked the phrase “to each man a Sylph” and this ballet is a parody on Bournonville’s La Sylphide. There are five characters – originally danced by Maria Tallchief as the Sylph, Andre Eglevsky as the “dandy,” Janet Reed, Frank Hobi and Roy Tobias.
This ballet very simply demonstrates the fickleness of love. Two young men pursue a young girl, and she flirts with them but is unable to choose one over the other until a “dandy” comes along to steal her heart. He is dressed for tennis but immediately drops his racquet and impresses the young girl with his athleticism throwing her into the air and dancing with her. Their playfulness develops into a romance and they embrace. But out of the corner of his eye he sees a sylph enter and is immediately mesmerized, ignoring the girl. The girl leaves distraught as the dandy follows the sylph around the stage. The sylph dances with him but never changes her expression and eventually she drifts off into the night. The dandy is swept away by his newfound love.
There is more back and forth between the girl and her “playmates,” the girl and the dandy, and the dandy and the sylph, until the sylph drops her romantic costume and stands before him in a pink bathing suit. The dandy and the sylph leave the stage together, and the girl is heartbroken once again. However, the dandy runs back on the stage, bows to the girl and asks her for another dance.