MIMI PAUL AND JOHN CLIFFORD TAPE VIDEO SERIES FOR THE GEORGE BALANCHINE FOUNDATION
New York City--Mimi Paul and John Clifford, former principal dancers with New York City Ballet, recently made their first appearance in The George Balanchine Foundation's Video Archives series. The aim of the series is to document the viewpoints and insights of dancers on whom Balanchine created his ballets by taping them in a rehearsal coaching and explicating their roles with dancers of today. The taping took place November 2 and 3, 2008, in New York City Ballet studios in the Rose Building, Lincoln Center, New York.
On November 2, Paul coached the solo and pas de deux from Emeralds, choreographed by Balanchine on her and the late Francisco Moncion. She worked with Sara Mearns and Jonathan Stafford, both principal dancers with New York City Ballet. On November 3, she was joined by John Clifford in coaching Valse Fantaisie, a ballet Balanchine created on them both. The two worked with New York City principal dancers Megan Fairchild and Jared Angle. In each case, the original choreography was recreated and compared with versions currently on view. Nancy Goldner, whose recent book, Balanchine Variations, has been widely acclaimed, conducted interview segments with the two coaches. Nancy Reynolds, director of research for The George Balanchine Foundation, supervised the project.
At the premiere of Jewels in 1967, Paul and Moncion were praised for their "combination of sophistication and passion in a pas de deux that was full of tantalizing hesitation but never without easy flow." This dreamy yet regal dance came to be known as the "walking" pas de deux. Paul was also singled out for the "sweep" of her long-limbed solo. A world away is Valse Fantaisie, a spirited charmer of a dance in which myriad steps and jumps are packed within a compressed time frame.
Reflecting on the goals of the Archives, Paul observed, "Linking Balanchine's ballets with the new generations of dancers allows very important information to be carried forward," while Clifford commended the Foundation's "ongoing effort to bring the original casts of Balanchine's ballets together to speak about Balanchine's original intentions. . . . I find the tapes revelatory as well as educational and entertaining."
Further information about The George Balanchine Foundation Video Archives may be accessed on the Foundation's website at www.balanchine.org.
MIMI PAUL, of Swiss-Russian heritage, began her career at the Washington Ballet, then danced with New York City Ballet in the 1960s, attaining the rank of principal dancer. Known for her line and lyricism, she danced roles in all the great Balanchine ballets, including the second movement of Symphony in C, Concerto Barocco, Divertimento No. 15, Episodes (first movement), Liebeslieder Walzer, Swan Lake, La Valse, and Apollo, among others, and also appeared in Antony Tudor's Dim Lustre and Jerome Robbins's Afternoon of a Faun. In addition to her roles in Emeralds and Valse Fantaisie, Balanchine created a solo on her in Don Quixote. After her tenure at New York City Ballet, Paul joined American Ballet Theatre, where she danced leading roles in Giselle, Swan Lake, Gaîté Parisienne, Paquita, and Les Sylphides. She originated a role in Alvin Ailey's The River.
JOHN CLIFFORD was trained in Los Angeles and danced with New York City Ballet from 1966 to 1974 and then as guest until 1981. His roles included Candy Cane in The Nutcracker, both Puck and Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and leads in Stars and Stripes, Tarantella, Rubies, Symphony in Three Movements, Agon, and third movement Symphony in C, among others. In addition to Valse Fantaisie, Balanchine choreographed roles on him in Suite No. 3, Danses Concertantes, and Variations pour une Porte and un Soupir. He also danced in works by Jerome Robbins (Dances at a Gathering, Goldberg Variations), John Taras, Todd Bolender, and Jacques d'Amboise. In addition, Clifford choreographed eight works for the company, beginning in 1968 at the age of twenty with Stravinsky: Symphony in C. He was later founder and artistic director of the original Los Angeles Ballet (1974-1985) and the chamber-sized Ballet of Los Angeles (1988-1991). He is currently active as a free-lance choreographer and stager for the George Balanchine Trust. He is also producer, director, and choreographer for Casablanca: The New Dance Musical, in association with Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Inc.
SARA MEARNS joined New York City Ballet in 2004 and in 2008 was promoted to principal dancer. She has performed leads in much of the Balanchine repertory, including Symphony in C (second movement), Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Jewels (Emeralds and Diamonds), The Nutcracker (Sugar Plum Fairy and Dewdrop), Robert Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze, and Walpurgisnacht Ballet, among others. She has also danced leading roles in several ballets by Jerome Robbins, including Dances at a Gathering and In the Night. Other roles include Odette/Odile in Swan Lake and Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, both with choreography by Peter Martins.
JONATHAN STAFFORD joined New York City Ballet as an apprentice in 1998 and was promoted to principal dancer in 2007. He has danced a wide variety of featured roles in works by Balanchine, Robbins, Martins, and Christopher Wheeldon. He created the role of Paris in Peter Martins's Romeo + Juliet and appeared in the film Center Stage. In 2008, he conceived and supervised the Dancers Choice benefit for the Dancers Emergency Fund at New York City Ballet.
MEGAN FAIRCHILD joined New York City Ballet as an apprentice in 2001, became a soloist in 2004, and was promoted to principal dancer in 2005. She has danced leading roles in Balanchine's Apollo (Calliope), Coppélia (Swanilda), Divertimento from 'Le Baiser de la Fée', The Nutcracker (Sugar Plum Fairy, Dewdrop), The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Tarantella, and Theme and Variations, among others. She has also danced leads in several Robbins works, including Dances at a Gathering, The Four Seasons (Winter), and The Goldberg Variations, and as well as in works by Peter Martins, including the role of Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty and Zakouski. She originated the comedy role of Florence in 'The Blue Necklace' section of Susan Stroman's Double Feature.
JARED ANGLE joined New York City Ballet as an apprentice in 1998 and was promoted to soloist in 2001 and principal dancer in 2005. He has danced principal roles in much of the Balanchine repertory, including Divertimento No. 15, Liebeslieder Walzer, Robert Schumann's 'Davidsbündlertänze', and Vienna Waltzes, among many others, as well as in Jacques d'Amboise's Irish Fantasy, Robbins's Dances at a Gathering, The Goldberg Variations, I'm Old Fashioned, and others, and several works by Peter Martins, including Ash, Stabat Mater, Thou Swell, and Valse Triste. He originated roles in Martins's Morgen and Tala Gaisma, among others. In 2004 he appeared in the Live from Lincoln Center broadcast "Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine 100," dancing in Liebeslieder Walzer, and recently appeared with Sara Mearns in the Opera di Roma's production of Swan Lake, with choreography by Galina Samsova.
NANCY GOLDNER studied at the School of American Ballet and began writing dance criticism in the late 1960s for Dance News. Subsequently she wrote about dance for such publications as The Christian Science Monitor, The Nation, Saturday Review, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She is the author of Balanchine Variations (2008) and The Stravinsky Festival of the New York City Ballet (1974).
NANCY REYNOLDS, a former dancer with New York City Ballet and now a dance historian, initiated The George Balanchine Video Archives program in 1994 and continues as its director. Her most recent books are No Fixed Points: Dance in the Twentieth Century, co-authored with Malcolm McCormick (2003), and Remembering Lincoln (2007).