JACQUES D'AMBOISE TO TAPE VIDEO SERIES FOR THE GEORGE BALANCHINE FOUNDATION
New York City — Jacques d'Amboise, principal dancer with the New York City Ballet for over three decades, and the original male lead in Who Cares?, will coach the ballet for The George Balanchine Foundation's Interpreters Archive. The aim of the series is to document the insights of dancers who worked closely with Balanchine on some of his greatest ballets. The archive's mission is to preserve this knowledge and pass it along to the dancers, scholars and historians of today. The session will be held on November 18th, 2013, at the New York City Ballet studios in the Rose Building, Lincoln Center, New York. The funding for this project has been generously provided by the Ira and Lenore Gershwin Designated Philanthropic Fund.
Mr. d'Amboise will coach Robert Fairchild, Tiler Peck, Sara Mearns and Ana Sophia Scheller, all principal dancers with the New York City Ballet. Solo pianist Susan Walters of the New York City Ballet Orchestra will play for the coaching session. The taping will be supervised by Nichol Hlinka, a former NYCB principal dancer, who is the associate director of the Foundation's video archives program, assisted by Nancy Reynolds, the Foundation's director of research, and former film professor Virginia Brooks.
WHO CARES? premiered February 5, 1970, at the New York State Theater with Jacques d'Amboise in the leading male role. The inspiration for the ballet came to Balanchine as he read through a Gershwin songbook given to him by the composer. "I played one and thought, 'Beautiful. I'll make a pas de deux,'" Balanchine recounted to Newsweek. "I played another, just as beautiful, I thought, 'a variation.' And then another and another, and there was no end to how beautiful they were."
This homage to Gershwin epitomizes classical ballet as an American art form, for it was "Balanchine who saw no contradiction between his work in ballet or Broadway," wrote Anna Kisselgoff in the New York Times. "Who Cares? remains an example of pure classicism, rooted entirely in ballet's academic steps. It is Mr. Balanchine's tour de force to reach so deeply into popular music that he brings out its essence."
Describing the score, Lincoln Kirstein noted: "The Gershwin songs maintain their classic freshness, as of an eternal martini——dry, frank, refreshing, tailor-made, with an invisible kick from its slightest hint of citron. Nostalgia has not syruped their sentiment nor robbed them of immediate piquancy."
As for Mr. d'Amboise's portrayal it "slipped smoothly from being loving…to reckless…to cool…he was the never-to-grow-up male so often apotheosized in Broadway musicals. He twirled his forearms from the elbow or did carefree turns with his arms spread out. And when, like some Manhattan Island Apollo, he brought the three girls together, all radiated that 'angelic unconcern for emotion' which Balanchine has always felt to be characteristic of American dancers," wrote Dance Magazine.
JACQUES d'AMBOISE joined the New York City Ballet at fifteen, became a principal dancer at seventeen, and remained so for the next thirty-five years. During his career he had more works choreographed specifically for him by the ballet-master George Balanchine than any other dancer. Mr. d'Amboise now leads the field of arts education with a model program that exposes thousands of school children to the magic and discipline of dance. In 1976, Mr. d'Amboise founded National Dance Institute in the belief that the arts have a unique power to engage and motivate individuals towards excellence. He is the author of Teaching the Magic of Dance and his recent memoir I was a Dancer. For a previous Balanchine Foundation archival video he coached leading roles in excerpts from Apollo.
ROBERT FAIRCHILD entered the School of American Ballet in 2002, and in 2005 he became an apprentice with the New York City Ballet. The following year he joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet; in 2007 he was promoted to soloist and in 2009 to principal dancer. In previous Balanchine Foundation archival videos, he was coached by Jacques d'Amboise in excerpts from Apollo and by Peter Martins and Kay Mazzo in Duo Concertant and excerpts from leading roles in Stravinsky Violin Concerto.
TILER PECK studied with former New York City Ballet dancers Colleen and Patricia Neary and former NYCB principal Yvonne Mounsey. At the age of 12, Ms. Peck entered the School of American Ballet, and in 2005 she joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet. She was promoted to soloist in 2006 and in 2009 was promoted to principal dancer. In a previous Balanchine Foundation archival video, she was coached by Merrill Ashley in the leading role in Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.
SARA MEARNS trained with Patricia McBride at the School of North Carolina Dance Theatre. Ms. Mearns entered the School of American Ballet in 2001, and in 2004 she joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet. In 2006, she was promoted to soloist, and in 2008 she was promoted to principal dancer. In a previous Balanchine Foundation archival video, she was coached by Mimi Paul in a leading role in excerpts from the Emeralds section of Jewels.
ANA SOPHIA SCHELLER began her dance training at the Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. In 2000, Ms. Scheller enrolled at the School of American Ballet, and she joined the New York City Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 2004. In 2006, she was promoted to soloist, and in 2012 she was promoted to principal dancer. In a previous Balanchine Foundation archival video, she was coached by Merrill Ashley in the leading role in Ballo della Regina.
NICHOL HLINKA, a former principal dancer with New York City Ballet, performed leading roles in numerous Balanchine ballets during her twenty-four-year career. She joined the Balanchine Foundation in 2010 and is the associate project director for the video archives program.
NANCY REYNOLDS, a dance historian and former member of the New York City Ballet, is the Balanchine Foundation's director of research and director of the Foundation's video archives program.
VIRGINIA BROOKS, Professor Emerita of Film at Brooklyn College/CUNY, and director of several dance documentaries, has been editor of the Balanchine Foundation's video archives program since its inception in 1994.
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 dancers who worked closely with Balanchine teach and coach their roles to the 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.