Contact: Mel Schierman
ALLEGRA KENT AND BART COOK TAPED VIDEO SERIES FOR
THE GEORGE BALANCHINE FOUNDATION VIDEO ARCHIVES
New York City Ballet dancers Unity Phelan and Taylor Stanley coached by Kent and Cook in the "Concerto" section of Episodes
New York City: February 17, 2020 — At the New York City Ballet studios, Lincoln Center, Allegra Kent and Bart Cook, working with NYCB soloist Unity Phelan, principal Taylor Stanley, and with Emma von Enck, Alexa Maxwell, Kristen Segin and Mary Elizabeth Sell, coached "Concerto" from Episodes, including the role originated by Kent in 1959 to a Webern orchestral score. Cameron Grant, solo pianist with New York City Ballet, accompanied the coaching session, after which Claudia Roth Pierpont interviewed Kent and Cook.
The recording was supervised by Paul Boos, Video Archives Project Associate, aided by Video Archives founder Nancy Reynolds and senior editor Gus Reed.
Episodes, a joint effort between NYCB and the Martha Graham Company, premiered in 1959 with Martha Graham's choreography occupying the first half and Balanchine's, including "Concerto," the second. "Concerto” is a dance in three parts for a principal couple and four women.
John Martin of the New York Times wrote at the time, "Here we are under the domination of the supreme logic of irrationality. The characteristic muscular phrase of Kent becomes almost the theme, to be exploited to a super-mechanical nonhumanity. Again the outstretched heel recurs and becomes the final capping of a miraculous formal sequence of movement created out of nowhere. In the closing section, Balanchine's well-known 'daisy chains' and 'London Bridges' find themselves in lunatic inversions, and there would seem to be no further to go … But there is."
The GBF Video Archives document the insights of dancers, often principals from original casts (as in this case) or those who worked closely with Balanchine. The Archives' mission is to preserve this knowledge and pass it on to today's dancers, scholars, and audiences. The Archives are available world-wide through public and university libraries. In addition, the interview components can be accessed on the Balanchine Foundation's YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/blnchn).
ALLEGRA KENT studied ballet with Bronislava Nijinska and Carmelita Maracci in Los Angeles. She joined the NYCB as an apprentice in 1952, and soon thereafter George Balanchine created a principal role for her in the "Unanswered Question" section of Ivesiana. In 1957 she was promoted to principal dancer, performing a varied repertory of ballets. In addition to Ivesiana, Balanchine created roles for her in Stars and Stripes, The Seven Deadly Sins, Episodes, Bugaku, and Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet. She was also in the original casts of Robbins's Dances at a Gathering and Dumbarton Oaks. For the GBF Video Archives she has coached leading roles in Bugaku, La Sonnambula, Stars and Stripes, and Ivesiana. Kent is the author of Allegra Kent's Water Beauty Book (1976), and her autobiography Once a Dancer..., was published in 1997. She is currently active as a teacher and coach.
BART COOK, NYCB principal dancer, choreographer and ballet master, began his dance studies with Willam Christensen in Utah and at 17 transferred as a scholarship student to The School of American Ballet in NYC. Two years later Cook joined NYCB and in 1979 was promoted to principal dancer. Shortly thereafter NYCB appointed Cook Assistant Ballet Master to Jerome Robbins. Cook excelled in Balanchine's "black and white" leotard ballets. In addition, his interpretations of Balanchine's romantic protagonists were as natural a fit as were those of his character and demi-character roles. In 1993 Cook retired from dancing. He has staged Balanchine and Robbins ballets for over thirty years for a wide range of companies including The Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, La Scala Opera, and San Francisco Ballet. Cook has been recorded coaching "Melancholic" from Four Temperaments and the "Sarabanda" from Square Dance for the Balanchine Foundation's Video Archives.
UNITY PHELAN, born in Princeton, New Jersey began her dance training at the age of five at the Princeton Ballet School, where her teachers included Douglas Martin, Maria Youskevitch, and Mary Barton. During the summers of 2008 and 2009, Phelan attended the summer sessions at the School of American Ballet and enrolled as a full-time student in fall of 2009. She became an apprentice with NYCB in December 2012 and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in November 2013. In February 2017, Phelan was promoted to soloist.
TAYLOR STANLEY was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and began his dance training at the age of three at The Rock School in Pennsylvania. He attended summer programs at Miami City Ballet and at the School of American Ballet and in September 2009, he became an apprentice with NYCB. He joined the Company as a full member in September 2010 and was promoted to soloist in February 2013 and to principal dancer in May 2016. In 2019 he assumed the iconic title role in Balanchine's Apollo.
CLAUDIA ROTH PIERPONT is a staff writer for The New Yorker, where she has written about the arts for more than twenty years. She is the author of three books: Passionate Minds (2000), a collection of essays about women writers ranging from Hannah Arendt to Mae West; Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books (2013), an exploration of the life and work of Philip Roth; and American Rhapsody (2016), a collection of essays on American subjects including George Gershwin, Nina Simone, and the Chrysler Building. She is currently working on a history of New York culture that will include a chapter on New York City Ballet.
NANCY REYNOLDS, a former dancer with New York City Ballet, has been the Director of Research for The George Balanchine Foundation since 1994. She conceived and continues to direct the Video Archives program. Among her books are Repertory in Review: Forty Years of the New York City Ballet; No Fixed Points: Dance in the Twentieth Century (co-authored with Malcolm McCormick); and Remembering Lincoln. In 2013 she received a "Bessie" award for "outstanding service to the field of dance."
PAUL BOOS is a former dancer with NYCB and répétiteur for the George Balanchine Trust. His work for the Trust has been presented at several theaters, including the Mariinsky, Bolshoi, Paris Opera, La Scala, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Boston Ballet. He also guest teaches abroad and locally.
GUS REED, a New York City-based filmmaker, specializes in creating video for and with dance. His recent projects include videos for NYCB's "Project Ballet" initiative, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, Emery LeCrone Dance and the Liz Gerring Dance Company. He is currently serving as a videographer in the Broadway production of West Side Story. He is senior editor of the Balanchine Foundation's Video Archives.
The George Balanchine Foundation (www.balanchine.org) is a not-for-profit corporation established in 1983. Its mission is to create programs that educate the public and further Balanchine's work and aesthetic with the goal of advancing high standards of excellence in dance and its allied arts. Among the Foundation's major initiatives are the Video Archives (http://www.balanchine.org/03/gbfvideoarchives.html), in which dancers who worked closely with Balanchine teach and coach their roles to dancers of today (Interpreters Archive) or recreate Balanchine ballets that are rarely performed and in danger of disappearing (Archive of Lost Choreography). Legendary dancers who have taken part in this project include Alicia Alonso, Jacques d'Amboise, Suzanne Farrell, Frederic Franklin, Melissa Hayden, Allegra Kent, Alicia Markova, Peter Martins, Maria Tallchief, Violette Verdy, Patricia McBride, and Edward Villella, working with leading dancers from such companies as New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, among others.
In 2007 the Foundation announced the completion of a major initiative, the online publication of the Balanchine Catalogue, a fully searchable database giving first-performance details of all known dances created by Balanchine, supplemented by lists of companies staging the ballets, a bibliography, a videography, reference resources, a database of roles Balanchine performed, and additional related materials (http://www.balanchine.org/03/balanchinecatalogue.html). The project was made possible by a leadership grant from The Jerome Robbins Foundation.