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Balanchine Studio TalkThree Dancers and Sean Lavery


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#1 Eileen

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 09:55 AM

I thought this deserved its own topic, namely, the 5 pm studio talk with Sean Lavery, Sterling Hyltin, Chase Finlay and Jenny Ringer.

This was a truly fascinating session. I sat three rows from these beautiful dancers and I have to say, they are lovely people and are well spoken and thoughtful. My favorite dancer in the company, Jenny Ringer (yes, she is my favorite among many!) is radiant, she just has a glow. And she speaks so intelligently about the dances and dancing Balanchine. I hope she is slated to be a teacher at SAB - but not too soon! I want her to keep dancing.

Sterling Hyltin (pronounced Hylteen) is also wonderful. She represented a younger generation in her mid-twenties, and she too was eloquent.

Chase - I haven't seen him in solo roles, he seems about 18 or 19, college student age. What impressed me about him was his sheer love of dancing. He said what attracted him to Balanchine was the opportunity to jump! He recently was cast as the Cavalier in Nutcracker, a major debut for a young corps member. He represented the newest generation of corps dancers, and he has the quality of spirituality and also presence that marks someone who could be dancing principal roles someday. I am impressed with how truly special the dancers who are chosen are. You can see it at a young age.

Sean Lavery led the proceedings, not at all like the ringmaster in Circus Polka! He was a wonderful, warm and human personality. He remembered going into Scotch Symphony with only same day rehearsal on Jan. 22, 1978 when he was only 20 (he had been in other companies - Frankfurt Ballet and San Francisco he mentioned). George Balanchine rehearsed the catch with him (two boys throw the principal girl, Kay Mazzo) then Mr. B said, okay, you can do it. Then Mr. B announced he was leaving the theater, he had to cook all day for his birthday dinner! Well, Sean Lavery did it, and the rest is history. In that famous photo of Balanchine standing before the audience at State Theater, Sean Lavery is the most prominent dancer arrayed behind the curtain, watching Mr. B with admiration

I also noted how Sean Lavery opened the panel discussion with the opening "theme" of the film, the uncanny diary entry of Marius Petipa on the very day that Balanchine was born.

He led the panel with intelligence and had much that was interesting to say. Anyone else remember specifics from the panel?

#2 rg

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 11:50 AM

a friend who attended this event sent along the attached snapshots.

re: Lavery's mention of the 1904 entry in Petipa's diary, which is set up in the documentary to mean something more dramatic than in fact it was, is further perpetuation of a fuzzy fact. as THE DIARIES OF MARIUS PETIPA, edited, translated and introduced (1992) by Lynn Garafola make clear, the comment, translated as "all my work is in ashes" (if mem. serves in the documentary) and as "my work is wasted" in Garafola's translation, refers not to Petipa's career or body of work but to ONE ballet, THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSEBUD AND THE BUTTERFLY, which was cancelled suddenly by the theater directorate with much warning to the aging choreographer.
The way the PBS "dramatically" uses the quote re-writes history for effect that is not based in actual fact.
An interesting sidelight about the defunct "butterfly" ballet that has recently, for me, come to light, is that the proposed butterfly role was due to be performed by Nijinsky.

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#3 Eileen

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 06:39 PM

a friend who attended this event sent along the attached snapshots.

re: Lavery's mention of the 1904 entry in Petipa's diary, which is set up in the documentary to mean something more dramatic than in fact it was, is further perpetuation of a fuzzy fact. as THE DIARIES OF MARIUS PETIPA, edited, translated and introduced (1992) by Lynn Garafola make clear, the comment, translated as "all my work is in ashes" (if mem. serves in the documentary) and as "my work is wasted" in Garafola's translation, refers not to Petipa's career or body of work but to ONE ballet, THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSEBUD AND THE BUTTERFLY, which was cancelled suddenly by the theater directorate with much warning to the aging choreographer.
The way the PBS "dramatically" uses the quote re-writes history for effect that is not based in actual fact.
An interesting sidelight about the defunct "butterfly" ballet that has recently, for me, come to light, is that the proposed butterfly role was due to be performed by Nijinsky.


Look at those heels on Jenny Ringer! Strong feet. That's what Balanchine does for you.

#4 carbro

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 11:17 PM

It was a fun panel. Sean asked the dancers what roles meant the most to them. Sterling named Duo Concertante, which she'd just danced brilliantly a short while before, Chase noted that he hasn't yet danced many principal roles -- only Nutcracker Cav., but he did mention an interest in Apollo. (And why not?)

Jenny's answer was, for me, the most resonant. She remembered when, as a student with the Washington Ballet, she danced a corps role in Serenade. Until that time, she had always thought of ballet classes as a fun after-school activity. But she described the moment at the end of the first movement when the girls exit to the wing, describing it as their "hands trailing in the water," and knowing that this was what she wanted to do. My own strong association is the first time I saw her. She was a student at SAB, now dancing the Waltz in Serenade on the State Theater stage. It was the 40th Anniversary celebration of the ballet. When the curtain fell, I ran to my friend and asked, "Have you ever seen the waltz danced with more sweep, more freedom, more musicality?" I was grateful for the opportunity, after the talk, to tell that to Jenny and to tell her how gratifying it has been to see the fulfillment of that early promise. She was very sweet, asked my name. She displayed the same modest grace she showed on her recent Today Show appearance.


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