George Balanchine, classically trained in Russia, emigrated to America and between those two worlds created a new one. His ballets are honed with classical perfection, but fueled with the speed and energy of a new era. Perhaps no other choreographer has so influenced ballet or provided so many now-classic works that have become beloved staples in the repertoires of companies across the United States and around the world.
The Kennedy Center celebrates the genius of Balanchine in a two-week festival of his ballets, performed by six companies which represent the Balanchine legacy. Ballet lovers will flock to these performances--the first ever such gathering of this array of companies and works under one roof.
The Festival will include performances by:
The San Francisco Ballet
Members of the Bolshoi Ballet
The Suzanne Farrell Ballet Company
Miami City Ballet
The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago
Tuesday, September 12, at 8 p.m.
Wednesday, September 13, at 8 p.m.
Thursday, September 14, at 8 p.m.
Members of the Bolshoi Ballet, Mozartiana
As the tour of the Bolshoi Ballet, co-produced by the Kennedy Center, reached each of its 5 cities this year, ballet lovers and critics were awed by this legendary company's prowess: "Perfection...by turns exhilarating and profoundly moving...a triumph" (Octavio Roca, San Francisco Chronicle). Now Kennedy Center audiences can see principal dancers including Nina Ananiashvili, Dimitri Belogolovtsev, and Sergei Filin, perform a Balanchine work--a ballet by a fellow Russian who became one of America's best-known choreographers.
Miami City Ballet, Rubies
This brilliant work, part of the full-length Jewels, was created for Edward Villella when he was one of Balanchine's legendary New York City Ballet stars. Now Villella is artistic director of his own great company and has set the piece on his dancers, with spectacular results: "Glowed with energy and glittered with sharp choreographic detail. The Miami forces had been coached to highlight the array of contrasts within each section and convey every facet with maximum vivacity" (Lewis Segal, Los Angeles Times).
The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Square Dance
In this 1957 work, Balanchine--ever the innovator--mixed the traditional ballet vocabulary and classical music (Corelli and Vivaldi) with American folk dancing. Joffrey's "bravura, intensely musical" dancers perform it with "flawless footwork, an exquisite line...silky, lyrical expressiveness" (Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times).
Miami City Ballet, Stars & Stripes
Another lively surprise, Stars & Stripes is Balanchine set to Sousa in five parts (or "campaigns," as Balanchine dubbed them). "[Stars & Stripes] makes a solid case for the lighter Balanchine. It was like indoor fireworks--all bright bursts of energy with an occasional over-the-top explosion" (Charles Passy, Palm Beach Post).
Friday, September 15, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, September 16, at 2 and 8 p.m.
Sunday, September 17, at 2 p.m.
Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Divertimento No. 15
Suzanne Farrell was Balanchine's discovery, his muse, and one of his most legendary dancers. In 1999, the Kennedy Center joined with Ms. Farrell to create a company of young dancers, stage the works of great 20th-century choreographers--including George Balanchine--and take the company on a 10-city tour. "It's a rare and sacred moment when a treasure is lovingly dusted off, kissed by the bearer, and handed over to a worthy successor. Divertimento No. 15...gloriously performed--it is a cornucopia of classicism, difficult and majestic." (Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post).
Miami City Ballet, Agon
"The way the choreography can be elegant one moment and eccentric the next makes this plotless masterpiece demanding to dance and exhilarating to watch. The Miami cast...appeared to relish the fiendishly difficult and visually astonishing balances... The entire ballet could be called an attempt by Balanchine to find a balance between unbridled energy and formal manners. Most appropriately, therefore, the Miami dancers seemed athletes one moment and aristocrats the next" (Jack Anderson, The New York Times).
The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Tarantella Pas de Deux
"Balanchine's duet, with Louis Gottschalk's exuberant music orchestrated by Hershy Kay, was created in 1964 as a showcase for Edward Villella and Patricia McBride of New York City Ballet. Here, its nonstop virtuosity serves as a splendid vehicle for the Joffrey's youthful stars..." (Richard Christiansen, Chicago Tribune).
Miami City Ballet, The Four Temperaments
"In The Four Temperaments, the company is on home ground--the dancing is ardent and physical. Built around the medieval notion that people's characters are composed of four humors, or temperaments, and set to an astringently affecting score by Hindemith, Temperaments is Balanchine at his best, pushing classical dancing to its limits, and evoking a mysteriously moving sense of urgency and human striving" (Jordan Levin, The Herald, Miami).
Tuesday, September 19, at 8 p.m.
Wednesday, September 20, at 8 p.m.
Thursday, September 21, at 2 p.m.
Pennsylvania Ballet, Serenade
Serenade was the first ballet Balanchine created in America more than 60 years ago--and it remains one of the most beloved audience favorites. A fixture in the repertoires of many companies, the work is danced here by Pennsylvania Ballet. "Essentially a work for the corps de ballet, Serenade will mercilessly expose any shortcomings that may exist in the ensemble, which is the bedrock of classical ballet. The company was virtually flawless..." (Robert Ackerman, Philadelphia City Paper).
San Francisco Ballet, Bugaku
In this erotic, mesmerizing work, Balanchine blends traditional Asian movement with his neoclassical style, yielding fascinating contradictions. Set to a commissioned score that evokes Japanese court music (although performed on Western instruments), the ballet depicts an ancient Japanese wedding ceremony. "Riveting...stylized sensuality" (Allan Ulrich, San Francisco Examiner).
San Francisco Ballet, Symphony in C
Balanchine created this work, set to Georges Bizet's Symphony in C Major, for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1947 during a stint as guest choreographer. The work has been in the permanent repertory of the New York City Ballet ever since--and it has become a staple for many other companies, including San Francisco Ballet. San Francisco's connection to the ballet is an intimate one: Lew Christensen, who danced in the City Ballet premiere, brought Symphony in C with him to San Francisco when he became that company's director in 1951.
Friday, September 22, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, September 23, at 2 and 8 p.m.
Sunday, September 24, at 2 p.m.
San Francisco Ballet, Symphony in Three Movements
San Francisco's current director, Helgi Tomasson, created one of the original roles in the 1972 premiere of this bravura work; and in his dancers at San Francisco Ballet, the ballet has found a brilliant home. "The dancers' musicality was remarkable. More than that, it was breathtaking...This was assured and sexy, insouciant dancing that alighted on Balanchine's references from Oriental dance to pop, yet painted a unified picture of music made flesh. Balanchine dancing just doesn't get any better than this" (Octavio Roca, San Francisco Chronicle).
San Francisco Ballet, Prodigal Son
Created for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1929, this Balanchine classic has launched the careers of some of the great male dancers in the role of the son who loses his inheritance, but gains his father's love. As revived by Tomasson, the San Francisco version has all of the passion and drama of the work ballet lovers know and adore; but equally importantly, it restores historical detail often omitted from other companies' productions. "The ending, so often static in even the best performances, was emotionally devastating...an indelible image of the power of unconditional love" (Octavio Roca, San Francisco Chronicle).
Pennsylvania Ballet, Western Symphony
Four years before he created Stars & Stripes, George Balanchine unveiled this quintessentially American ballet, also set to music arranged by Hershy Kay. And as he would in Square Dance, Balanchine set out to make a formal work within an "informal" idiom--in this case, the relaxed (and instantly recognizable) attitude of the American West. See this irresistible piece performed by the lithe dancers of the Pennsylvania Ballet.
Tickets on sale 7/20/00
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