JACQUES D'AMBOISE TAPED VIDEO SERIES FOR THE GEORGE BALANCHINE FOUNDATION VIDEO ARCHIVES
New York City — On November 26, 2018, Jacques d'Amboise, with dancers from NYCB, coached the central pas de deux from Stars and Stripes, Episodes' Five Pieces, and the male variation in Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux. Nancy McDill, solo pianist with New York City Ballet was the accompanist, and Alastair Macaulay interviewed d'Amboise at the conclusion of the session, which took place in New York at a studio in Lincoln Center.
The taping was supervised by Paul Boos, Video Archives Project Associate, aided by Nancy Reynolds, Video Archives founder, former film professor, Virginia Brooks, and filmmaker, Gus Reed.
The purpose of GBF's Video Archive Series is to document insights of the originators or important later interpreters of key roles in the Balanchine repertory, so as to pass on this knowledge, particularly including references to Balanchine's ideas at the time of creation, and make them available to the dancers, scholars and audiences of today. The d'Amboise video will become part of this series, which now numbers over fifty and is available world-wide through educational institutions and libraries. The interview segments can be viewed on GBF's YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/blnchn.)
In 1958-'60, three creatively fecund years at NYCB, Balanchine chose d'Amboise to star in three astonishingly diverse new ballets.
Doris Hering wrote in Dance Magazine of the patriotic 1958 Stars and Stripes to Sousa marches "... a delightfully witty 'soldier's sweetheart' duet for d'Amboise and Melissa Hayden. His pompous General Grant stance and her steely imperviousness were bright bits of flavor in spectacular dancing...." D'Amboise coached Indiana Woodward and Roman Mejia in this pas de deux.
The following year a polar opposite muse inspired Balanchine to devise the stark black and white leotard ballet Episodes for Diana Adams and d'Amboise (Music: Anton Webern). John Martin, writing in the New York Times, called it "an exquisitely grotesque, heartbreaking pas de deux in the briefest of broken graspings. It is two souls struggling for identity, in a realm without orientation, no procedural logic or precedent, no sequence or reaction to action — only snatches of affection." Teresa Reichlen and Jared Angle were the dancers for this coaching session.
To music originally intended for Tschaikovsky's Swan Lake, Adams and d'Amboise were Balanchine's first choice subjects in his 1961, now ubiquitous, grand pas de deux. An injury to Adams forced a cast change and the premiere was danced by Violette Verdy and Conrad Ludlow. D'Amboise and Ludlow's solo variation is exceptionally different from what is currently performed, including a musical repeat of the opening phrase. Anthony Huxley showed both the former and latter version of the male solo.
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. 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, he 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 previous Balanchine Foundation archival videos he coached leading roles in excerpts from Apollo and Who Cares?
JARED ANGLE became an apprentice with NYCB in March 1998 and joined the NYCB corps de ballet later the same year. He was promoted to soloist in 2001 and to principal in 2005. He has performed many featured roles in ballets by Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Peter Martins. For the Video Archives he was coached in Bugaku by Edward Villella and in Valse-Fantaisie by John Clifford.
ANTHONY HUXLEY joined NYCB in 2007 and was promoted to soloist in 2011 and principal dancer in 2015. He has danced leading roles in Duo Concertant, "Emeralds" and "Rubies" from Jewels, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Oberon), Symphony in C (3rd movement), and George Balanchine's The Nutcracker® (Cavalier, Candy Cane), among many others, as well as in Jerome Robbins' Goldberg Variations, and Bournonville's La Sylphide (James).
ROMAN MEJIA, New York City Ballet corps de ballet member as of 2017, was coached in Tarantella for the Video Archives by Patricia McBride. He trained with his parents, Maria Terezia Balogh and Paul Mejia, in Arlington, Texas, before entering the School of American Ballet (SAB) in 2015.
TERESA REICHLEN began her dance training at the age of 10 at the Russell School of Ballet with Thomas and Illona Russell, Mary Rogers, and Margaret McGarry. In October 2001 she joined NYCB as a member of the corps de ballet. In January 2005, she was promoted to soloist and in October 2009 principal dancer. Her repertory includes Swan Lake (Swan Queen), Symphony in C (2nd movement), "Diamonds" from Jewels, and many other leading roles.
INDIANA WOODWARD was born in Paris, France, began her dance training in Venice, California and continued her studies at the School of American Ballet. In 2012 she joined NYCB and was promoted to soloist in 2017. Ms. Woodward can be seen in the Video Archives coached by Patricia Wilde in these roles: Marzipan from George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®, Caracole, Western Symphony and Swan Lake pas de trois.
ALASTAIR MACAULAY was the chief dance critic of The New York Times between 2007 and 2018. He had been previously the chief theater critic of The Financial Times in London (1994-2007) and the chief dance critic for The Times Literary Supplement (1996-2006), founding editor (1983-88) of the British quarterly Dance Theatre Journal, and a guest dance critic for The New Yorker (1988 and 1992).
NANCY REYNOLDS, a former dancer with New York City Ballet, has been the Director of Research for The George Balanchine Foundation since 1994. She conceived and continues to direct the Video Archives program. Also an author, in 2013, she received a "Bessie" award for "outstanding service to the field of dance."
PAUL BOOS, since 2015 the Video Archive Project Associate, is a former dancer with NYCB and répétiteur for the George Balanchine Trust. He teaches abroad and locally.
VIRGINIA BROOKS, Professor Emerita of Film at Brooklyn College/CUNY and director of several dance documentaries has been an editor of the Balanchine Foundation's Video Archives since its inception in 1994.
GUS REED, a New York City-based filmmaker, specializes in creating video for and with dance. He has served as an editor of the Balanchine Foundation's Video Archives since the fall of 2014.
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.