FORMER NEW YORK CITY BALLET PRINCIPAL DANCERS to coach excerpts from ORPHEUS and VIENNA WALTZES for THE GEORGE BALANCHINE FOUNDATION VIDEO ARCHIVES
On April 10, 2023, at the NYCB studios at Lincoln Center, former NYCB principal Adam Luders will coach Joseph Gordon and Russell Janzen, current principal dancers with NYCB, in the male duet from Orpheus. The Dance of the Angel of Death (so titled in the commissioned Stravinsky score) introduces a mysterious figure, called the Dark Angel in Balanchine's ballet, who leads the celestial musician Orpheus to Hades, there to be united with his beloved deceased wife, Eurydice. The brief atmospheric dance, for two men and containing no recognizable ballet steps, is one of the most unusual in the Balanchine canon; it seems is safe to say he never before or afterward choreographed anything like it. It is a duet but almost a trio, a trio for two men and a prop of greatest significance, Orpheus's lyre.
The ballet is important historically, as in addition to its significance as a Balanchine-Stravinsky collaboration, with non-traditional costumes and sets by Isamu Noguchi, it inspired Morton Baum, chairman of the executive committee of the New York City Center of Music and Drama, to invite Balanchine's and Lincoln Kirstein's small company, Ballet Society, to become a constituent member of the organization under a new name, New York City Ballet. The newly formed company gave its first performance on October 11, 1948, and preparations are now underway for a fall celebration of its first 75 years.
The same afternoon Luders will be joined by former NYCB principal Stephanie Saland as together they coach an entirely different pas de deux from a period in Balanchine's life 30 years later, a pas de deux from the final section of Vienna Waltzes set to waltzes from Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. They will work with NYCB soloist Miriam Miller and principal Russell Janzen. This lavish, full-company ballet evokes an earlier era, one in which elegant ladies and gentlemen in formal attire performed social dances in ballroom settings. In this final section, the women wear heeled slippers, not pointe shoes. With the leading woman's arms in full-length white gloves and her leg movements partially obscured by her elegant gown, the fluidity of her arm and torso movements are of special interest, as is the inventive and gallant partnering provided by her cavalier.
The video will be overseen by Archives Director Paul Boos, assisted by Founding Director Nancy Reynolds. At the conclusion of the coaching session, scholar and writer Elizabeth Kendall will interview the two coaches. Accompaniment will be provided by Alan Moverman, NYCB solo pianist.
The George Balanchine Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established in 1983 with the goal of creating programs that educate the public and further Balanchine’s work and aesthetic. Among the GBF’s major initiatives are the Video Archives, in which dancers who worked closely with Balanchine teach and coach their roles with the
dancers of today (Interpreters Archive) or recreate sections of ballets that are rarely performed or 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, Patricia McBride, Maria Tallchief, Violette Verdy, Patricia Wilde, Edward Villella, and others, working with dancers from such companies as New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and San Francisco, Boston, Pacific Northwest and Suzanne Farrell ballets.
In 2007 the Foundation announced 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 and supplemented by lists of companies staging his ballets, a bibliography, a videography, reference resources, a database of roles Balanchine performed, and related information. The project was made possible by a leadership grant from The Jerome Robbins Foundation. An expanded and updated version, enhanced by visuals, was introduced in June 2022 (www.balanchine.org).
The George Balanchine Foundation expresses its profound gratitude to the following donors: The Brown Foundation, Agnes Gund, Barbara D. Horgan, The New York State Council on the Arts, the Pettit Foundation, Nancy R. Reynolds, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Denise Littlefield Sobel, and Louisa Stude Sarofim; and to Leslie Tonner Curtis, Nancy S. Furlotti, Jeffrey A. Horwitz, The National Endowment for the Arts, Meryl Rosofsky and Stuart H. Coleman, The Evelyn Sharp Foundation, Resa and Heiner Sussner, and I. Peter Wolff.