Leigh Witchel, on Apr 21 2010, 01:09 PM, said:
For the record, I talked to Nicolo Fonte for several hours last year in an interview. In terms of his influences, if I recall correctly, he did mention Balanchine early on (he loved watching it and dancing it) but so would many choreographers. His main influence as a choreographer was his employer, Nacho Duato.
Wouldn't Armitage be as influenced by Cunningham as Balanchine? Mostly, she does her own thing. I think Liaang is less influenced by Balanchine in his work than Forsythe and Wheeldon. They're more immediately proximate. Interestingly at this point, I wonder if current choreographers can be said to be influenced by Balanchine except indirectly? It's now two (dance) generations passed - the last ballerina he hired is retiring this year.
There are days when I think NYCB is really a Robbins company now -- the dancers often look better and happier in his ballets -- and there's a certain strain of NYCB alumni choreography that seems to owe as much to him as Balanchine. Leotards, sharp edges, and the absence of narrative are neither necessary nor sufficient to make a Balanchine ballet, but people sometimes carry on as if they were. A lot of choreography that's alleged to be influenced by Balanchine strikes me as being only superficially like the Agon pas de deux -- i.e., alike in the leotards, in pushing the body to extremes, in complicated partnering -- but so different in rhetoric and structure as to be like Balanchine in the way that carob is like chocolate.
"Square Dance" and "Episodes" aside*, Balanchine rarely used the kind of mix-and-match score that Robbins did in all those piano ballets and even in "Glass Pieces." The whole suite of dances to a bunch of short stuff genre seems Robbinsonian to me, not Balanchinean, as does the refusal of hierarchy. In a Balanchine ballet we see each dancer and what they do in relation to a central couple (or, more likely, in relation to the central ballerina), but starting with Robbins (and maybe Kylian, too?) gets harder and harder to find the queen bee. Everybody's nobody in "Fool's Paradise" in a way that they aren't in "Agon." Liang's new work "Ballo Per Sei" is a lot more like "2 & 3 Part Inventions" than it is like "Square Dance."
* I know everyone will come up with examples that I've somehow missed ... Midsummer, for instance.
* Edited to add DUH! "Vienna Waltzes" and "Union Jack" - but maybe not "Western Symphony" and "Start & Stripes" ...