KYRA NICHOLS AND ADAM LÜDERS COACH BRAHMS/SCHOENBERG QUARTET FOR THE GEORGE BALANCHINE FOUNDATION VIDEO ARCHIVES
New York City: On December 13, 2021, in the New York City Ballet studios, former principal dancers Kyra Nichols and Adam Lüders coached Emilie Gerrity, soloist, and Russell Janzen, principal, both of NYCB, in the opening Allegro of Brahms/Schoenberg Quartet.
In 1964, Stravinsky recommended to Balanchine the Arnold Schoenberg orchestration of Brahms’ Piano Quartet in G minor, Opus 25, for a ballet. Balanchine went on to create a sweeping, large-scale romantic work to the score in four separate sections, each section evoking elements of the Austro-Hungarian empire with choreography that mirrored the score’s vibrant, lush melodies. Walter Terry in the New York Herald Tribune wrote of the ballet at its premiere in April 1966, “A beauty, knowingly balanced and shrewdly built … represents [him] at his inventive best in the classical idiom.”
Both Nichols and Lüders made memorable impressions in what is considered the most difficult of the ballet’s four movements. According to Anna Kisselgoff writing in the New York Times, “Adam Lüders, partnering Kyra Nichols, danced with excellent polish and vigor in the opening ‘Allegro’ section.” Also in the New York Times, Jack Anderson wrote of Lüders, “Growing ever more impetuous, Mr. Lüders danced boldly and well, and the restlessness of the ensemble served as a reminder that Vienna was not only the city of waltzes, but of Freudian neuroses as well.”
The dancers were accompanied by Nancy McDill, solo pianist with NYCB, during the coaching session which was recorded on video. Paul Boos, the Video Archives Director supervised the recording. The session was followed by an interview with Nichols and Lüders by critic and choreographer Leigh Witchel.
The GBF Video Archives document the insights of dancers, often principals from original casts or those who worked closely with Balanchine. The Archives mission is to preserve this knowledge and pass it on to today's dancers, scholars, and audiences. The Archives are available world-wide through public and university libraries. In addition, the interview components can be accessed on the Balanchine Foundation's You Tube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/blnchn).
KYRA NICHOLS is a native of Berkeley, California and studied ballet with her mother, NYCB alum, Sally Streets. Nichols joined the New York City Ballet in 1974 and was promoted to principal dancer in 1979. She is among the last dancers to have worked with George Balanchine. Ms. Nichols retired from performing in 2007, after a 33-year career. She joined the Pennsylvania Ballet as a ballet mistress in the 2014-15 season. In 2017, she left to serve as Violette Verdy and Kathy Ziliak Anderson Chair in Ballet and professor of music in ballet at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
ADAM LÜDERS first studied dance at the Royal Danish Ballet School and graduated to become a member of the Royal Danish Ballet in 1968. He was principal dancer with London Festival Ballet (1973–5) and New York City Ballet (1975–94) creating roles in Balanchine's Davidsbündertänze, Kammermusik No. 2, and Walpurgisnacht, as well as Robbins's In Memory of… among others. Since retiring he has taught widely, including at the School of American Ballet, and staged Balanchine repertory for the George Balanchine Trust. Trained in the Bournonville tradition, Lüders was the classic ‘danseur noble’. He is part of the last generation of dancers who worked closely with Balanchine at the New York City Ballet and has danced most of the Balanchine and Robbins repertoire. Adam Lüders is famous for his skill in pas de deux, and he has partnered most of Balanchine’s ballerinas as well other international stars.
EMILIE GERRITY received her early training at the New Paltz School of Ballet taught by former NYCB dancers Lisa Chalmers and Peter Naumann. Ms. Gerrity attended summer courses at the School of American Ballet, before enrolling there as a full-time student. While at SAB, she performed George Balanchine's Concerto Barocco as part of Protégés II at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in June 2008. Ms. Gerrity was named as an apprentice in 2009 and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in September 2010. In February 2017, Ms. Gerrity was promoted to soloist. She was a recipient of the Mae L. Wien Award for Outstanding Promise in 2009.
RUSSELL JANZEN began his dance training at the age of six at The Rock School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mr. Janzen attended summer sessions at the School of American Ballet and enrolled as a full-time student in the winter of 2005. In October 2007, Mr. Janzen became an apprentice with NYCB, and in June 2008, he joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet. He was promoted to soloist in October 2014 and to principal in February 2017. The New York Times recently published an essay of Mr. Janzen’s on Covid’s effects on the performing arts and dance in particular.
LEIGH WITCHEL is the founder and editor of dancelog.nyc. He was also the dance writer for the New York Post, as well as a Guggenheim Fellow in choreography for his work as the Artistic Director of Dance as Ever, a chamber ballet company based in Manhattan.
NANCY REYNOLDS, a former dancer with New York City Ballet, has been Director of Research for The George Balanchine Foundation since 1994, when she conceived the Video Archives program. Among her books are Repertory in Review: Forty Years of the New York City Ballet; 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.”
PAUL BOOS, Director of the Video Archives since 2021, is a former dancer with NYCB and répétiteur for the George Balanchine Trust. His work for the Trust has been presented at several theaters, including the Maryinsky, Bolshoi, Paris Opera, La Scala, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Boston Ballet. He also guest teaches abroad and locally.
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 initiatives are the Video Archives (https://balanchine.org/03/gbfvideoarchives.html), in which dancers who worked closely with Balanchine teach and coach their roles with dancers of today (Interpreters Archive) or recreate excerpts of 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 Alonso, Jacques d’Amboise, Suzanne Farrell, Frederic Franklin, Melissa Hayden, Allegra Kent, Alicia Markova, Peter Martins, Patricia McBride, Maria Tallchief, Edward Villella, and Patricia Wilde, working with leading dancers from such companies as New York City Ballet, American Ballet theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest 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 a major initiative, the online publication of the Balanchine Catalogue, a fully searchable databased giving first-performance details of all known dances created by Balanchine, supplemented by lists of companies staging the ballets, a database of roles Balanchine performed, and additional related materials (https://balanchine.org/03/balanchinecatalogue.html). The project was made possible by a leadership grant from The Jerome Robbins Foundation.