ROBERT BARNETT, GLORIA GOVRIN, ALLEGRA KENT, AND PATRICIA WILDE TO TAPE VIDEO SERIES FOR THE GEORGE BALANCHINE FOUNDATION
New York City — For the GBF Video Archives, Robert Barnett, Patricia Wilde, and Allegra Kent will be recorded coaching featured roles choreographed on them by Balanchine. From George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® (1954) Wilde will coach NYCB dancer Indiana Woodward in ‘Marzipan’ and Barnett will coach Pennsylvania Ballet principal Alexander Peters in ‘Candy Canes.’ From Stars and Stripes (1958) Barnett will coach the ‘Thunder and Gladiator’ regiment with Peters, Kent will coach Woodward in ‘Corcoran Cadets’, and with NYCB dancer Claire Kretzschmar Gloria Govrin will coach ‘Rifle Regiment,’ in the role originally choreographed for Diana Adams.
Nancy McDill, solo pianist with the NYCB Orchestra, is the accompanist, and Jack Anderson will conduct interviews at the conclusion of each session. Taping will be supervised by Paul Boos, Video Archives Project Associate, along with Nancy Reynolds, GBF’s Director of Research, assisted by former film professor Virginia Brooks and filmmaker Gus Reed.
GBF’s Video Archive series aims to document the insights of dancers, often principals from original casts, who worked closely with Balanchine. The Archives’ mission is to preserve this knowledge and pass it on to today’s dancers, scholars and audiences. GBF’s Video Archives are available world-wide through many public and university libraries. In addition, the interview components of the series are publicly available on the Balanchine Foundation’s YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/blnchn).
Stars and Stripes, to John Philip Sousa’s most popular tunes, orchestrated by Hershey Kay, is something between a halftime majorette show and a Petipa second act. Andrew Porter of the Financial Times wrote, “Such a classical ballet … Balanchine prefers to have fun, rather than make fun of.” These dances require steel timed-technique, all while a tongue is planted firmly into the cheek.
Two of the most recognizable pieces in ballet lore are Tschaikovsky’s ‘Marzipan’ (Danse des Mirlitons) and ‘Candy Canes’ (Danse des Bouffons). Balanchine admitted to appropriating the ebullient Candy Cane (hoop) dance from the Russian original, which he knew well, having performed the lead himself. Akim Volynsky, Russian dance critic, wrote, “I must mention the great success by a still quite young and unusually musical artist. . . [Balanchivadze] . . . is full of wild intensity. He waves the hoop and tosses it under his feet. Then he encircles himself with it and rushes downward like a hurricane, . . . an energetic and superbly disciplined talent ” (1922).
ROBERT BARNETT, born in 1925 and a former NYCB soloist, began studying ballet seriously with Bronislava Nijinska in 1946 in Los Angeles after he was released from the Navy, having served in the South Pacific and Japan. In 1948, he was invited by David Lichine to join the original Ballet Russe. In 1949, after studying in Paris with Lubov Igorova and Olga Preobrajenska he returned to the US, dancing on Broadway and TV. He was hired for the NYCB corps de ballet that December. Barnett’s first Balanchine principal role was in Bourrée Fantasque , opposite Tanaquil Le Clercq. In 1950 Frederick Ashton created the ‘Dandy’ in Illuminations for Barnett and, in 1952, the role of Merlin in Picnic at Tintagel. He married NYCB company member Virginia Rich in 1955, and they moved to Atlanta GA where he worked with The Atlanta Civic Ballet, as a principal dancer and Associate Director. He was named Director in 1961 and remained until 1994, taking the company to full Professional status.
GLORIA GOVRIN studied at the School of American Ballet. She joined NYCB in1959 and danced with the company until 1974, attaining the rank of soloist in 1963. In 2012 she was filmed for the GBF Video Archives coaching three roles Balanchine created for her: the revised Coffee variation in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the first movement soloist of Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet. Other roles Balanchine created for her include the revised Firebird, Harlequinade, Don Quixote, Raymonda Variations, Clarinade, and Trois Valses Romantiques. After her retirement from the stage, she opened a ballet school and later became principal teacher at the Rock School, the official academy of the Pennsylvania Ballet. In 1999, at the invitation of Helgi Tomasson she became the Associate Director of the San Francisco Ballet School. Presently she is artistic director of Eastern Connecticut Ballet.
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, and Ivesiana. Ms. 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.
PATRICIA WILDE’s sweeping career in dance encompassed seasons with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, which she joined as a teenager in 1945, and continued when she became a long-standing NYCB principal dancer who inspired Balanchine throughout the 50’s and 60’s. For the GBF Video Archives she has coached three roles created on her, Square Dance, Raymonda Variations, and “The Third Waltz” in La Valse, as well as her singular mercurial roles in Serenade, and Divertimento No. 15. Among other choreography Balanchine created on her are solos in Scotch Symphony, a pas de trois in Swan Lake, and principal roles in Western Symphony, Pas de Trois (Glinka), Waltz-Scherzo, and Native Dancers. Wilde retired from the stage in 1966. In the 70’s she became a committed dance advocate and educator and from 1982 to 1997 was Artistic Director of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Her biography, Wilde Times: Patricia Wilde, George Balanchine and the Rise of New York City Ballet, written by Joel Lobenthal, has recently been released.
CLAIRE KRETZSCHMAR was born in Glendale, Arizona. She began her dance training at the Academy of Dance Arts in Winston-Salem, NC and began studying at the School of American ballet in 2006, enrolling as a full-time student in 2009. She joined NYCB corps in August 2011.
ALEXANDER PETERS received his early dance training in Allegheny Ballet in Altoona, PA. He attended SAB’s summer courses in 2006/7 on merit scholarships. He attended Pacific Northwest Ballet’s summer program in 2008 and was selected for an exchange program with the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen. He spent a year with Kansas City Ballet before performing with the Pennsylvania Ballet. He joined the corps in 2012, became a soloist in 2014 and was promoted to principal dancer in 2015.
INDIANA WOODWARD was born in Paris, France, and began her dance training at the Yuri Grigoriev School of Ballet in Venice, CA. She enrolled in the School of American Ballet in 2010 and became a member of NYCB’s corps de ballet in 2012.
JACK ANDERSON is a poet and dance writer, whose most recent book of poetry is Getting Lost in a City Like This (Hanging Loose Press). His next book, his eleventh, The Dinosaur Problem, will soon be published by Hanging Loose. He writes for London’s Dancing Times and the New York Times, and among his seven books on dance are The Nutcracker Ballet, Ballet and Modern Dance: A Concise History, Art Without Boundaries: The World of Modern Dance, and The One and Only: The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, which won the José de la Torre Bueno Award for Dance Writing.
PAUL BOOS is a former NYCB dancer and current rèpètiteur for the George Balanchine Trust. His Balanchine stagings have been performed by such internationally known companies as the Maryinsky, Bolshoi, Paris Opera, La Scala, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Boston Ballet. He also guest teaches abroad and locally. In 2015 he became the Balanchine Foundation’s Video Archives Project Associate.
NANCY REYNOLDS, a former dancer with NYCB, has been director of research for The George Balanchine Foundation since 1994. She conceived and continues to direct the Video Archives program. Her most recent books are 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.”
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 since its inception in 1994.
GUS REED, a New York City-based filmmaker, specializes in capturing and editing 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 has been associated with GBF since the fall of 2014, and is an 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 (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.