Jacques d'Amboise and Melissa Hayden in Don Quixote. YouTube.com

#TBT: Jacques d'Amboise and Melissa Hayden in "Don Quixote" (1962)

The dance community said goodbye to a hero earlier this month with the passing of Jacques d'Amboise. D'Amboise joined New York City Ballet as a teenager in 1949 and danced with the company for 35 years, leaving an undeniable mark on American ballet. He originated roles in many of Balanchine's works, including Jewels, Stars and Stripes and Who Cares?, and was acclaimed for his interpretation of Apollo. He also danced in Hollywood movie musicals like Carousel and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

On several occasions, d'Amboise performed on television in variety shows. In this 1962 clip from a broadcast of "Voice of Firestone," he dances the pas de deux from Don Quixote alongside his frequent partner, Melissa Hayden. Hayden, who passed away in 2006, was also a leading dancer with NYCB, creating iconic roles in the company's repertoire.

Their performance opens with the two dancers in a striking silhouette. Hayden and d'Amboise maintain that same regal poise throughout the pas de deux. Their comfort and trust in one another as partners makes intricate dance passages, like Hayden's pirouette into a fouetté at 2:40, look breezy. In their variations, d'Amboise shows his verve and vigor with a buoyant manège of double cabrioles, while Hayden's quick ronds de jambe en l'air, échappés and hops on pointe spark with life. The coda proves that speed is no match for either of them, as d'Amboise soars with articulate assemblés battus and Hayden tackles fouettés en dedans and en dehors with aplomb.

Throughout their performance, d'Amboise and Hayden take pride and pleasure in their dancing. Their passion for the art is something they both strove to pass on to others during their careers. Following her retirement, Hayden taught at Skidmore College, Pacific Northwest Ballet School and North Carolina School of the Arts. D'Amboise founded the National Dance Institute in 1976. The organization, which has grown to serve thousands of children, provides free dance education to students in New York City to experience the confidence and joy that comes with taking part in this art form. D'Amboise's true generosity in sharing his love of dance will be dearly missed. Happy #ThrowbackThursday.

Latest Posts

Margo Moritz, Courtesy Alonzo King LINES Ballet

How Adult Students Can Prep for a Safe Return to the Studio

After a year (or more) of virtual classes, it's finally time to unplug and head back to the studio.

Exciting? Absolutely. A little scary? Definitely.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Boston Ballet soloist Chisako Oga. Jayme Thornton for Pointe

Join Us for an Exclusive Conversation With Boston Ballet's Chisako Oga on June 29!

Chisako Oga has already experienced so much in her short career. In one year, she went from being a San Francisco Ballet apprentice to a principal dancer at Cincinnati Ballet. Now, she's spreading her wings at Boston Ballet, where she's currently a soloist. In our May/June digital cover story, Oga talks about handling high-stakes pressure, from international ballet competitions to leading roles, as well as career disappointments. Through it all, she's managed to stay laser-focused on her goals while maintaining a healthy attitude and work–life balance. "The pandemic put things in perspective," she says. "Dancing is my passion. I want to do it as long as I can, but it's only one portion of my life."

Now you can have a chance to hear more about Oga's training and career path, ask for her advice, and much more in our exclusive virtual conversation. Click here to register for free with your questions. Then join us for a Zoom Q&A with Oga on Tuesday, June 29, at 4 pm EDT!

Gavin Larsen in Balanchine's Duo Concertant at Oregon Ballet Theatre. Blaine Covert, Courtesy University Press of Florida

"Being a Ballerina: The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life" Gives a Vivid Portrayal of the Working Dancer

Before reading her excellent memoir, Being a Ballerina: The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life (University Press of Florida, $26.95), I'd never heard of Gavin Larsen. She isn't a famous superstar ballerina with a first-tier company promising revelations of juicy celebrity gossip and salacious liaisons. She has no rags-to-riches history, no heartbreaking backstory of overcoming great odds. She was, in fact, a hard-working, successful, very skilled professional ballerina for 18 years, retiring in 2010 as principal of Oregon Ballet Theatre, with previous stints including Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet and Alberta Ballet.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks