It is sometimes easy to forget what a beautiful dancer Bissell was in ballet's waning American hey day. Usually he is footnote in relation to the fiery Gelsey Kirkland, her partner in crime during their shared drug years.
This excerpt from Delibes' Sylvia adapted by Balanchine, doesn't seem to tax his abilities but that didn't seem to matter to Bissell. I admired the amount of attention, interest and care he exerted during his pas de deux with Van Hamel. There is never a sense that Bissell feels Van Hamel is in his way, a chore to deal with until his next solo. At mark 3:31 in the video, Bissell supports Van Hamel in an extended balance. The elegance but showmanship in his port de bras as they change hands, his gentle change in positions so careful not to throw her off balance, then he gently supports her into an arabesque penchee that is almost loving. In turn, Van Hamel is so sure of him, her whole body is relaxed that she melts into him. This is what a real Pas de Deux looks like: romance, trust and respect. It isn't about the ballerina hogging the spotlight or being in her male partner's way. This is communication, a truce in the female vs male battle of the sexes.
I wish we could see more of this kind of partnering.