When Eliot Feld left American Ballet Theatre in a huff in 1968, a year after choreographing his first ballet—the critically acclaimed Harbinger, to Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no. 5—the blame for the rift was generally ascribed to the ABT management, which was perceived as rigid, authoritarian, and unreceptive to young talent from within its ranks. Now, nearly two decades later, Feld has his own, hand-picked company, a custom-built theater, a school, and generous government, corporate, and private support. It would appear to be the ideal creative situation for an artist who does not feel his work should be “answerable to anybody for any reason at any time,” as he put it in an interview in the spring of 1982, on the eve of the opening of the Joyce Theater. But in the five years since that much publicized event, Feld has, if anything, faded as an artistic...


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