From Ivor Guest The Paris Opera Ballet. This passage refers to Pierre Beauchamp, Louis XIV's dance teacher and the arranger of court dances.
And this, from the booklet included with the DVD of the Paris Opera Ballet's production of Jewels: It's slightly edited:
To those who complimented him on the variety of his entrees, Beauchamp said that he had learned to compose the patterns for his ballets from the pigeons in his loft. He would go up their himself to give them their grain, and throw it to them. As the pigeons ran to the grain, the different patterns and the varied groupings they formed gave him ideas for his dances."
Does anyone have other stories of choreographic inspiration -- real or apocryphal -- that you can share?
Balanchine, who always passed by Van Cleef & Arpels' boutique on 5th Avnue on the way to his morning dance training, told the music journalist Antonio Livio how Jewels came about:
"I always found jewels fascinating and often also inspiring. Just think of Palais de Cristal. I don't know what moved me that particular morning. There was a showcase with diamonds, one with emeralds and one with rubies. In the middle of the window display there was a wonderful tiara like those at the court of the Czar. I was mesmerised and went thoughtlessly from one show case to the next and back again.
Balanchine told Claude Arpels, who, alarmed by the behavior of this unknown man outside the window, had come out to question him: "I have learnt from your showcases that emeralds go with Faure, rubies with Stravinsky, and diamonds with Tchaikovsky. This will become a ballet I will call Jewels."