Stephen Colbert does Ballet, remains flawless

Ballet Meets Colbert in Unusual Pas de Deux
By JULIE BLOOM



“I was worried; what if I can’t fire back?” David Hallberg said about his preshow jitters before appearing Wednesday night on “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central. The dancer, the first American to join the Bolshoi Ballet on a full-time basis, shouldn’t have worried.

Despite Stephen Colbert’s accusations that Mr. Hallberg was “Benedict Arnold in slightly tighter pants,” the dancer gently reminded him that “the cold war’s over.” He went on to discuss his decision to leave the United States for Moscow to pursue his dreams in dance. “I love a challenge, I love risk,” Mr. Hallberg said. Mr. Colbert responded: “There’s nothing risky or challenging in the United States? Dance on fire. Do the ‘Firebird’ on fire.”

Though Mr. Hallberg held his own in the interview portion, the same could not quite be said for Mr. Colbert during the performance part of the show. Mr. Hallberg danced an excerpt from American Ballet Theater’s production of “The Nutcracker” with Hee Seo, a soloist with the company. Performing on flooring the show had installed for the dancers, Mr. Colbert, in his suit jacket and black tights and ballet slippers, soon joined in — mimicking Mr. Hallberg’s jumps and tours en l’air and briefly partnering Ms. Seo. At the end, snow fell from above and, in Bolshoi tradition, the audience threw 200 roses at the performers’ feet.



(Before the interview and dancing, Mr. Hallberg warmed up with battement kicks backstage while Mr. Colbert interviewed the South Carolina Democratic Party chairman, Dick Harpootlian, about adding a referendum on corporate personhood to the Republican primary ballot.)

In the green room after the show Mr. Hallberg, 29, said he was happy to have been on. “I feel like Colberts’s viewers are my contemporaries,” he said. “This is a chance to show them the dedication dance requires and this is an valid art form.”

He said he hadn’t given Mr. Colbert too much advice except: “He was entering like a little weasel. When you enter from off camera, you need to present yourself.”

He added he was happy to be stateside but was eager to return to Moscow. “I can’t wait to get back,” he said. “Moscow doesn’t scare me anymore. I’m finding parts of the city I love. I’m so fulfilled.”



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