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DOUBLE TIMER

New York City Ballet / New York State Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC / January 6 – February 29, 2004 George Balanchine (Mr. Neoclassicism) did time on Broadway and in Hollywood and—always one to rise cheerfully and inventively to the particular nature of an occasion—produced some fetching work for the popular theater. As a souvenir of those ventures, the New York City Ballet’s Balanchine 100 Centennial Celebration offered the Slaughter On Tenth Avenue ballet he made for On Your Toes. Jerome Robbins, NYCB’s No. 2 choreographer, may well have … [Read more...]

Vintage Russian Ballet Stars Via DVD

Classical dance fans in the West are perennially thrilled to hear that the Russians are coming. Via the burgeoning DVD industry, they're traveling across space and out of the past—on small, shiny disks designed to last forever. Village Voice 1/21/04 … [Read more...]

THE DANES ON TOUR

Royal Danish Ballet / Kennedy Center, Washington DC / January 13-18, 2004 Frank Andersen, artistic director of the Royal Danish Ballet, has a mission. In a campaign that will climax with the 3rd Bournonville Festival in Copenhagen, June 3-11, 2005, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the great Danish choreographer’s birth, Andersen is aiming to make August Bournonville’s ballets vivid to the contemporary viewer who may not instinctively find them accessible and appealing. Last fall, Andersen entrusted Nikolaj Hübbe (an RDB alum known best as … [Read more...]

BALANCHINE AT HOME #4: TELLING TALES

New York City Ballet / New York State Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC / January 6 – February 29, 2004 You are a woodcutter, a swimmer, a football player, a god. —George Balanchine, instructing Lew Christensen, who danced the title role in Apollo at the ballet's American premiere When I was a child, I never read fairy tales. My mother disapproved of them for the underage, on the grounds that they were frightening. Perhaps she had read her Grimm in an authentic version instead of the watered-down, sweetened pap concocted for kiddies. If … [Read more...]

BALLET BOYZ, DANISH STYLE

The Royal Danish Ballet is performing at Kennedy Center, Washington DC, January 13-18, 2004. Denmark is a very small country compared to Russia, France, England, and America, yet, like those dance superpowers, it boasts a world-class ballet company with a venerable academy attached to it. Danish dancers trained from childhood at the school housed in Copenhagen's Royal Theatre can be identified by particular aspects of technical prowess: an ebullient jump; light, swift footwork; and fluent épaulement. These qualities are their legacy from … [Read more...]

BALANCHINE AT HOME #3: SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS

New York City Ballet / New York State Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC / January 6 – February 29, 2004 Scotch Symphony and Donizetti Variations are thought of as Balanchine’s Bournonville-influenced ballets, the first because its situation borrows from the Danish master’s Romantic-era La Sylphide, the latter because its buoyant step combinations with their petite batterie recall Bournonville technique, which derives from French sources. (Balanchine operated most often in the Russian vein, from which he developed a unique American style.) … [Read more...]

BALANCHINE AT HOME #2: DREAMS

New York City Ballet / New York State Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC / January 6 – February 29, 2004 The trap in talking about Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream—with which the New York City Ballet has just opened the winter repertory season of its Balanchine 100 Centennial Celebration—is comparing it to Frederick Ashton’s The Dream. (Balanchine’s take on Shakespeare’s play and Mendelssohn’s music was created in 1962; Ashton’s, in 1964.) The discussion quickly becomes a contest of merits—and Ashton usually wins. His one-act ballet is not … [Read more...]

George Balanchine: Centennial Celebrations

This season marks the 100th anniversary of George Balanchine's birth, and the dance world is rushing around commemorating it with productions of the ballets, exhibitions in multiple media, symposiums, lecture-demonstrations, and so on. Some of the activity will be wonderful. Some of it, inevitably, will be mediocre or, worse, merely bandwagon behavior. Village Voice 1/7/04 … [Read more...]

HAVE I GOT A GIRL FOR YOU!

Kirov Ballet of the Maryinsky Theatre / Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington DC / December 30, 2003 – January 4, 2004 Daria Pavlenko, dancing Odette-Odile, was far and away the best thing about the three performances I saw (all three casts) of the Swan Lake the Kirov Ballet brought to Kennedy Center. She has, beside formidable technique, the magisterial authority of a ballerina. This is rooted in the ability to draw the audience into an imaginary universe of which she is the center. Pavlenko is gifted for both lyrical and dramatic dancing—a … [Read more...]

BALANCHINE AT HOME #1: ADVANCE NOTICE

Beginning January 6, I’m planning to go to the New York City Ballet a lot. I haven’t gone to the NYCB a lot in years. My attendance started falling off after Balanchine’s death in 1983, because, without the man there—as creator, coach, teacher, and all ‘round inspirational force—performances of his ballets deteriorated, slowly but inexorably. No room here for the placing of blame. After all, it’s a birthday party! The New York City Ballet, naturally the main custodian of Balanchine’s work, is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the … [Read more...]

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