Homage to St. Petersburg
Schorer said that Balanchine wanted a dancer to be in control of being out of control. He would choreograph dancers falling off pointe or falling out of turns, but the dancer still had to be in control of those effects. To show this, Simon performed the Harp variation from Raymonda Variations and the third variation from Divertimento No. 15. To illustrate how the positions Balanchine wanted grew out of the dancer’s center, Simon performed the beginning of the Sugar Plum Fairy solo from the Nutcracker.
There’s a popular belief that Balanchine wasn’t concerned with the upper body, but Schorer gave several examples that give another view of this. In class, an open first position was achieved by “hugging a tree,” for example. “Balanchine did not want dead hands, dead dancers or zombies. Those were the ones who stared obsessively straight into the mirror, the ones who ‘sat’ into positions, the ones who were static. He used to say the hands should look like a parachute when doing pliés. A tiny bit from Concerto Barocco was performed so we could see hands that moved like “bristles of a paint brush.”
Balanchine though en face dancing was like “cooking a veal roast with no garlic.” The head should tilt as if “asking for a kiss” or “you are putting your head on a pillow.” Schorer said, “We all wanted him to give us a kiss.”