Jacques d’Amboise, the great American ballet dancer, is in possession of laughing eyes and a crop of white hair, and he knows how to turn an interview into a show. Wandering through the art-lined hallways of the National Dance Institute in Harlem on a recent afternoon, he gave the best kind of performance — around every corner, there was a new surprise, a new story.
“I have a barnful of it,” he said of his impressive art collection. As he spoke, he pointed out works by Robert Rauschenberg, Alex Katz and Carolyn George, his dancer-turned-photographer wife who died in 2009. Both danced for the master choreographer George Balanchine at New York City Ballet, where Mr. d’Amboise was a star.
One of Balanchine’s most famous maxims, for better or worse, was “ballet is woman.” Yet at City Ballet, he produced a number of extraordinary male dancers, including Mr. d’Amboise and Arthur Mitchell, both 83, and Edward Villella, 81 — American treasures who overcame stereotypes about men and ballet and, on Mr. Mitchell’s part, racism, to devote themselves to the art form and to Balanchine.
On Feb. 5, Mr. Villella and Mr. Mitchell will join Mr. d’Amboise at the National Dance Institute for “Balanchine’s Guys,” in which they will share stories about what it was like to dance for him. The program, part of Mr. d’Amboise’s Art Nest series, will also feature performances by dancers from the institute and by some of Mr. d’Amboise’s favorites from City Ballet’s current roster: Sterling Hyltin, Adrian Danchig-Waring and Teresa Reichlen.