What Would Balanchine Think?

Posted by on 08.15.2010

The other day before class I was talking with a few other Miami City Ballet dancers (about ballet, of course) and in a joking manner someone suggested that we should have an séance, and talk with Balanchine. How amazing would it be to get direct insight into his creations from the man himself? However, this lighthearted joke got me thinking: What would Balanchine think about how his masterpieces have evolved since his death? Have his original visions been lost in translation, or is he supremely proud of the way his works are being presented today? What would Balanchine think?

I remembered that I had bought a book awhile back, but had never gotten around to reading: “George Balanchine, The Ballet Maker” by Robert Gottlieb. When I was in high school I wrote an extensive research paper on Balanchine’s life and works, which I have since lost track of. Most of what I have been reading in Mr. Gottlieb’s book is familiar, but I am so enjoying the information that is new to me.  In the next few weeks I will be posting about Mr. B’s early career, his time with Ballets Russes, and his move to the United States, in order to discover more about this ballet legend.  Tomorrow, my first installment will cover Balanchine’s childhood in Russia.

2 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for your comment. I hope Balanchine would be proud of what we present here in Miami and it is great to hear people like you giving us such wonderful praise! It makes everything so worth it.

    Oh, being a part of Miami City Ballet's premier in New York was the most exciting experience of my life. It may be hard to top that. Standing in that line of Symphony in Three corps girls on opening night was the most exhilarating (though nerve racking) moment ever. I will always take that experience with me, and hope that it will not be the last!

    Thank you for your contribution to my blog and I hope you check back for more!

  2. Your title question is a good question. Your quotes from Balanchine in your later posts make clear how outspoken he could be, so if he were around we would certainly know what he thought!

    But he already saw performances of his older ballets by companies other than his, unsupervised by him, and had a few things to say. Of an ABT "Apollo", he said after he complained about it, that they gave him three hours to fix what he needed three days to do, or maybe it was three days to do three weeks' work. (Arlene Croce detailed the problems in "The New Yorker".) So he knew what would happen, after he was gone: "They'll still be my ballets, but they'll look different."

    Of your company (and Suzanne Farrell's) I personally think he'd be proud; I saw some 500 or so performances of New York City Ballet supervised by him – he taught us to see – and at times Miami City Ballet looks essentially a lot like it – not imitating it – realizing its essentials – and not just to me but also to keener dance watchers than I – professional critics who found they also had to see his company – for instance, Ms. Catoya's "Emeralds"; "Sonatine" at its premiere; the "Symphony in Three Movements" corps line.

    Be proud you were part of that in New York, Rebecca! It's been a long time since New York City Ballet "turned the volume down" on the movement. You showed New York Balanchine's Balanchine can still be danced.

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