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"Music Dances: Balanchine Choreographs Stravinsky" In North American Premiere At Dance On Camera Festival 2003

Past and present members of New York City Ballet featured in documentary to be screened at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater in January

NEW YORK CITY - The George Balanchine Foundation is pleased to announce the release of "Music Dances: Balanchine Choreographs Stravinsky," the first videotape in a new series planned by The Foundation entitled Musical Balanchine. Public screenings of the program will be presented as part of the Dance on Camera Festival, co-presented by The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Dance Films Association. Screenings will be at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater on Friday, January 17 at 7 PM, and Saturday, January 18 at 1 PM, 2003. The tape was conceived and written by musicologist and dance historian Stephanie Jordan, Research Professor of Dance Studies at the University of Surrey Roehampton (London), and directed by Virginia Brooks, Professor of Film and Head of Production at Brooklyn College/CUNY.

George Balanchine was known to say, "The music is always first." His seminal artistic collaboration with Igor Stravinsky is one of the most celebrated of the twentieth century. In "Music Dances: Balanchine Choreographs Stravinsky," Jordan explores the extraordinary scope of Balanchine’s approach to Stravinsky’s music across the years.

Commenting on Balanchine’s choreographic responses to Stravinsky’s scores, Stephanie Jordan states, "The sheer range of technique is astonishing and fascinating, from visualization to counterpoint, simple juxtaposition to multi-system interaction. It is a revelation to witness how much Balanchine was inspired by seeing as well as hearing Stravinsky’s scores. More than any other choreographer, he gets deep inside the music."

The major focus of "Music Dances: Balanchine Choreographs Stravinsky," is Agon, but sections from many other Stravinsky/Balanchine ballets are analyzed such as Apollo, Duo Concertant, "Rubies" from Jewels, and the Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fée. To illustrate how Balanchine took his cues from the musical structure of Stravinsky’s scores, the documentary features New York City Ballet Principal Dancers, Peter Boal, Albert Evans and Wendy Whelan with other dancers in the studio, accompanied by pianist Nancy McDill and violinist Gabriel Schaff, an interview with Suzanne Farrell, rehearsal footage of Movements for Piano and Orchestra with Balanchine, and a 1960 telecast of Violette Verdy in Agon. Brief performance clips are also included.

On seeing "Music Dances: Balanchine Choreographs Stravinsky," Charles M. Joseph, musicologist, teacher and author of the new book, Stravinsky and Balanchine: The Journey of Invention, published by Yale University Press, commented, "Jordan’s video offers a new gateway leading directly to a deep appreciation of the magnificent accomplishments of the Stravinsky and Balanchine collaborations. She achieves the impossible in striking just the right balance between complete accessibility for all, and a keen, detailed, insightful look into the workings of the creative process. We now have a new point of departure in discussing how Stravinsky’s music and Balanchine’s choreography meshed so well together. With Jordan’s video, The George Balanchine Foundation has added immensely to our understanding of a unique artistic collaboration of the twentieth century."

George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky first met in 1925. Their creative collaboration began in 1928 when they created Apollon Musagéte (now known as Apollo) for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Elizabeth Kendall, in her recent review of Charles Joseph’s book in The New York Times Book Review, states, "Apollo… by turns playful, mystical, athletic and majestic, rescued musical and balletic classicism by aligning it with the late Jazz Age. Or, as Charles M. Joseph says in his masterly Stravinsky and Balanchine, the ballet established both men’s ‘unswerving devotion to the abiding principals of reason, balance, austerity and order’ - principles they would honor throughout their artistic collaboration, which spanned most of the 20th century….The 29 Stravinsky/Balanchine ballets provide an amazing record of these two artists’ joint translation of St. Petersburg classicism into a universal cultural ideal, as much American as Russian, as much New World as Old, as much cerebral as ritualistic."

"Music Dances: Balanchine Choreographs Stravinsky" is a project of The George Balanchine Foundation, with Nancy Reynolds, The Foundation’s director of research, as executive producer and attorney Delia Peters as producer. The video was launched at London’s Theatre Museum on November 13, 2002 at a reception attended by notables from the British dance world.

"Music Dances: Balanchine Choreographs Stravinsky," is for sale to educational institutions only. For more information on this documentary or any of the other currently available archive tapes, please contact The George Balanchine Foundation at 212-262-0700. Orders for PAL territories (Britain, Continental Europe and Australia) should be directed to Dance Books Ltd., 4 Lenten Street, Alton, GU34 1HG, United Kingdom.


 

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