VIOLETTE VERDY and CONRAD LUDLOW TO TAPE VIDEO SERIES FOR THE GEORGE BALANCHINE FOUNDATION
New York City — Violette Verdy and Conrad Ludlow, former principal dancers with New York City Ballet, will teach and coach the pas de deux from the Act II Divertissement from A Midsummer Night's Dream for The George Balanchine Foundation's Interpreters Archive video series. This will be third time both have participated in tapings for the series; previously they worked together on Tschaikovksy Pas de Deux and excerpts from "Emeralds" from Jewels. The aim of the Interpreters Archive is to document the viewpoints of dancers on whom Balanchine choreographed his ballets, taping them in a rehearsal studio coaching and explicating their roles with dancers of today, reflecting on Balanchine's intentions at the time of creation. Taping will take place November 16, 2009, in the New York City Ballet studios in the Rose Building, Lincoln Center, New York.
Verdy and Ludlow will work with two principal dancers from New York City Ballet, Janie Taylor and Tyler Angle. Tobi Tobias, a widely published dance critic, will conduct interview segments with the two coaches. Nancy Reynolds, the Foundation's Director of Research, will supervise the project.
As a youth in Russia, Balanchine appeared as a bug in a theater production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which used Mendelssohn's incidental music. Years later he claimed, "I still know the play better in Russian than a lot of people know it in English." But his real inspiration was Mendelssohn's music. "It is musique dansante," he said.
Of the tender Act II pas de deux Tobias commented, "One of Balanchine's most sublime duets lies at the heart of the Divertissement celebrating the triple wedding that resolves the tangled plot of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's danced by an anonymous couple, who do not figure in the ballet's story of quarreling and confused lovers. This pair is itself a dream--of idyllic love, of souls made for each other."
EDITORS' NOTE: Photographs available on request.
VIOLETTE VERDY began ballet training in her native France. After dancing with Roland Petit's Ballets des Champs-Elysées, London Festival Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre, she joined New York City Ballet in 1958. While there she danced more than 25 principal roles in a performance career that extended through 1976. In addition to the Act II pas de deux in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Balanchine created roles for her in such works as Liebeslieder Walzer, Episodes, Sonatine, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, "Emeralds" from Jewels, The Figure in the Carpet, and La Source. Jerome Robbins created roles for her in Dances at a Gathering, In the Night, and Beethoven Pas de Deux. Verdy made guest appearances with a number of the major ballet companies in America and Europe.
After her retirement from performing, she became the first woman to be artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet and was later artistic director of the Boston Ballet. Verdy has been a guest teacher throughout the world and has been awarded many honors. Since 1996, she has been a Distinguished Professor of Ballet at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Bloomington.
CONRAD LUDLOW had an illustrious twenty-year career as principal dancer with both San Francisco Ballet and New York City Ballet, where he was especially known for his skill in partnering. He established memorable partnerships with such well-known ballerinas as Violette Verdy, Melissa Hayden, Maria Tallchief, Allegra Kent, Suzanne Farrell, and Patricia McBride. During his years with New York City Ballet he created 18 roles in the repertory and performed leading roles in 46 ballets. In addition to the Cavalier in A Midsummer Night's Dream, other signature roles that Balanchine created on Ludlow include those in Liebeslieder Walzer, Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, "Emeralds" from Jewels, and Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux.
Now a professor, Ludlow joined the University of Utah Ballet Department (Salt Lake City) in 1985 as resident choreographer, after founding and directing Ballet Oklahoma. He frequently acts as artistic director for Utah Ballet and Ballet Ensemble productions.
JANIE TAYLOR studied at the Giacobbe Academy of Dance in New Orleans and became a full-time student at the School of American Ballet in 1995. Taylor joined New York City Ballet in 1998 and was promoted to soloist in February 2001 and principal in January 2005.
She has performed leading roles in many major Balanchine ballets, including The Nutcracker (Dewdrop, Sugar Plum Fairy), Liebeslieder Walzer, Robert Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze, Ivesiana (The Unanswered Question), Divertimento No. 15, La Valse, and Tarantella; in Jerome Robbins's Afternoon of a Faun, The Cage, Dybbuk, Opus 19/The Dreamer, and Goldberg Variations; and Peter Martins's Ash, Ecstatic Orange (Purple), Hallelujah Junction, Jeu de Cartes, and Thou Swell, among others. She originated roles in Martins's Burlesque, Guide to Strange Places, Harmonielehre, Morgan, and Them Twos, and has also performed in works by Alexei Ratmansky, Susan Stroman, and Christopher Wheeldon.
Taylor appeared in the film Center Stage and in the nationally televised Live from Lincoln Center broadcast "New York City Ballet: Ten Years of New Choreography" (2002). She has previously participated in three Balanchine Foundation Interpreters Archive videos, all coached by Allegra Kent: Bugaku, La Sonnambula, and Ivesiana (The Unanswered Question), the latter also coached by Todd Bolender.
TYLER ANGLE began his dance studies with Deborah Anthony at the Allegheny Ballet Company and became a full-time student at the School of American Ballet in 2001. He joined New York City Ballet in 2004 and was promoted to soloist in December 2007. In October 2009, he was promoted to principal.
Angle has performed featured roles in a large number of ballets by Balanchine, Robbins, and Peter Martins, as well as in ballets by Christopher Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky, Angelin Preljocaj, and Eliot Feld. He originated roles in Martins's The Red Violin, Friandises, and Romeo + Juliet, in Wheeldon's An American in Paris, Klavier, and The Nightingale and the Rose, and in works by Melissa Barak, Mauro Bigonzetti, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, and Benjamin Millepied.
TOBI TOBIAS has written extensively about dance for New York Magazine, Bloomberg News, Dance Magazine, and ArtsJournal. She is also the author of two dozen books for children.
NANCY REYNOLDS, a former dancer with the New York City Ballet, has been The George Balanchine Foundation's Director of Research since 1994. She conceived and continues to direct the Foundation's Video Archives series. Also an author, her most recent book is No Fixed Points: Dance in the Twentieth Century (co-authored with Malcolm McCormick).
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 (https://balanchine.org/03/gbfvideoarchives.html), in which important Balanchine dancers teach and coach roles created on them by Balanchine with 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 Markova, Maria Tallchief, Frederic Franklin, Alicia Alonso, Melissa Hayden, Allegra Kent, Todd Bolender, Merrill Ashley, Suzanne Farrell, Rosella Hightower, Marie-Jeanne, Violette Verdy, Edward Villella, Patricia Wilde, Yvonne Mounsey, and Helgi Tomasson, 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 another 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 (https://balanchine.org/03/balanchinecataloguenew.html). The project was made possible by a leadership grant from The Jerome Robbins Foundation.
Earlier projects include Popular Balanchine, comprising forty-two boxes of material pertaining to Balanchine's commercial work, housed at the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library; and Music Dances: Balanchine Choreographs Stravinsky, a video by Professor Stephanie Jordan of Roehampton University, London.