By Ken Tucker
Updated July 10, 2009 at 05:57 PM EDT

Once upon a time, late-night TV was filled with all sorts of performers, not just movie and TV stars plugging their latest product. Truly literary authors, classical musicans and dancers, sat and conversed with the likes of Jack Paar and Steve Allen. (Oh, for the days when Oscar Levant shambled into a chair to chat about his latest breakdown!) Last night, David Letterman made a nice connection to that bygone era in welcoming the great ballet dancer Veronika Part to the Late Show.

Letterman admitted, “I’m woefully ignorant; I don’t know anything about ballet,” and I’m not much better. But I do know that Part is a great artist. Part was charming, going along with Dave’s joshing (“People are constantly lifting you — and that’s just in the lobby!”). Even this brief glimpse of Part was wonderful; I wish there was a wider display of culture, high as well as low, on the late-night TV landscape.