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There is a fundamental difference between American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet. Actually, there are a number of fundamental differences between ABT, launched in 1940, and NYCB, which took root in 1948 after many short-lived flowerings. These differences have been much explored through the decades: ABT’s big, old, storybook ballets versus NYCB’s swift and often experimental short stories; ABT’s glittering necklace of international styles versus NYCB’s pure pull from its own School of American Ballet; ABT’s eclectic approach, ballets from everywhere, versus NYCB’s auteur approach, George Balanchine’s eye as everything. What strikes me this season, however, is a very particular difference. At...

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