Last night (Wednesday 13 November), a screening and reception hosted by the George Balanchine Foundation took place at the Theatre Museum in London after the AGM of the Society for Dance Research. The film is excellent. It will be shown in New York at the beginning of next year and I am pretty pleased to have had this preview. Stephanie Jordan who conceived the idea and wrote the script is Research Professor in Dance at Roehampton University of Surrey. A former dancer, musician and dance critic, she now publishes and presents at conferences internationally. Her excellent book (amongst others) “Moving Music:Dialogues with Music in Twentieth-Century Ballet” was published by, and is available from, Dance Books (www.dancebooks.co.uk
). The video intimately studies the relationship between Balanchine’s choreography and Stravinsky’s music. I attended the evening with a former dancer from NYCB who was absolutely enthralled by this in-depth analysis of what she used to do, how she used to dance. Jordan shows us the scores, breaks down the movements in studio and narrates how the movement relates to the music. Whist being highly academic in tone, it is extremely accessible and it is a joy to watch, amongst others, Wendy Whelan in studio taking us through the choreography. Suzanne Farrell is also interviewed and there is some great footage of Violette Verdy. It was a thoroughly good evening attended by critics, Monica Mason, dance professionals and academics as well as ‘mere’ dance-lovers. The George Balanchine Foundation hosted the screening. Here is the press release. Music Dances: Balanchine Choreographs Stravinsky – launch of pioneering video conceived and written by Stephanie Jordan
Because of copyright restrictions the video is not available for private purchase, but may be purchased by libraries, educational institutions and archives.
‘Music Dances: Balanchine Choreographs Stravinsky’ celebrates the seminal 20th century collaboration between a composer and a choreographer. This new video demonstrates the extraordinary range of ways in which Balanchine approached Stravinsky’s music, from visualization to counterpoint, from sinple juxtaposition to multi-system interaction.
The major focus is ‘Agon,’ but sections from many other Stravinsky/Balanchine ballets are analysed, such as ‘Apollo,’ ‘Duo Concertant’ and ‘Divertimento’ from ‘Le Baiser de la Fee.’ The video presents dancers from New York City Ballet alongside studio musicians. There is recent performance footage and rare archival footage – ‘Movements for Piano and Orchestra’ in rehearsal with Suzanne Farrell prior to the 1963 premiere and a 1960 broadcast of Violette Verdy in the Bransle gay of ‘Agon.’ Suzanne Farrell also appears in interview. Much of the repertory has never before been available on video.
The video was a research project commissioned by the George Balanchine Foundation. It visualizes a number of ideas from Stephanie Jordan’s acclaimed book ‘Moving Music: Dialogues with Music in Twentieth-Century Ballet’ (London:Dance Books, 2000), but it goes well beyond this to look at a wide range of Stravinsky/Balanchine techniques and repertory. It aims to reach dance scholars, students and enthusiasts, specialists and non-specialists, and will be available from autumn 2002 for purchase by libraries and archives. It is highly unusual as an exposition of dance analysis, and is a unique contribution within the area of relationships between dance and music.
‘The George Balanchine Foundation’ is a non-profit corporation established in 1983 to further the art of dance throughout the world, with a special emphasis on the work of George Balanchine. Its programmes seek to document, preserve, and perpetuate the Balanchine legacy, and, by extension, to encourage the highest standards in dance and its allied arts. The Foundation’s educational projects include, among others: the Video Archives, in which veteran Balanchine dancers pass on his ideas by coaching today’s dancers in roles he created fo rthem, with copies of master tapes in more than 50 libraries around the world; ‘Popular Balanchine,’ a research initiative to document comprehensively Balanchine’s work on the popular stage and screen; and ‘Mediatext’ designed to provide a rich electronic archive of dance-related source materials accessible over the internet.
Nancy Reynolds, Executive Producer (Director of Research, George Balanchine Foundation)
Stephanie Jordan, Project Director
Virginia Brooks, Video Director
Delia Porter, Producer
Dancers from New York City Ballet: Peter Boal, Albert Evans, Alexander Ritter, Jennifer Tinsley, Kathleen Tracey, Wendy Whelan
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