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Karin von Aroldingen, RIP

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Several dancers and dance world insiders are reporting her death on their Instagram accounts. How very sad. Here she is being interviewed for the Balanchine Foundation on Davidsbundlertanze.

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It's been confirmed on several dancers Instagram.

 

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An extraordinary ballerina and an important figure in the history of New York City Ballet. Rest in peace.

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I had hoped she'd be around much longer and maybe be able to see her on a panel or another ballet she had coached. How wonderful she is in Violin Concerto with her great backbends, and in Davidsbundlertanze and Liebeslieder Waltzes. Robert Gottlieb, in his recent Conversations on Dance podcast, says he finally realized why Balanchine never wanted to revive Liebeslieder. After Suzanne Farrell left the company, Karen Von Aroldingen danced her Liebeslieder role, and when Farrell returned he couldn't not give it to her, yet he couldn't take it away from Karen.

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19 minutes ago, Quiggin said:

I had hoped she'd be around much longer and maybe be able to see her on a panel or another ballet she had coached. How wonderful she is in Violin Concerto with her great backbends, and in Davidsbundlertanze and Liebeslieder Waltzes. Robert Gottlieb, in his recent Conversations on Dance podcast, says he finally realized why Balanchine never wanted to revive Liebeslieder. After Suzanne Farrell left the company, Karen Von Aroldingen danced her Liebeslieder role, and when Farrell returned he couldn't not give it to her, yet he couldn't take it away from Karen.

Robert Garis actually wrote something very like that in his book. He said that he thought Balanchine didn't want anyone but Farrell to dance her role in Liebeslieder (originally Diana Adams' part), but also didn't want to hurt von Aroldingen by taking it away. If so, it would be a measure of his personal regard for von Aroldingen, since he had no such compunction with some of his other principals. I think von Aroldingen staged the first revival of Liebeslieder at NYCB after Balanchine's death.

A very unconventional and controversial favorite of Balanchine's in her day - almost every year a new role for Karin in the seventies - and an invaluable resource in later years. She was born in 1941, I believe, so this isn't really an untimely death, but it certainly feels like one. And just when the company would need her the most. Condolences to her friends and family.

I remember reading, I think it was in the Taper bio, that Balanchine in the hospital could tell von Aroldingen's footsteps from those of anyone else and he would say happily, "Karin!"

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She was such a wonderful presence and dancer in "Davidsbunderltanze."

Rest in peace, Ms. von Aroldingen.

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There's this lovely YT clip of her in Emeralds as a commemoration:

 

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 Von Aroldingen led "Emeralds" with Merrill Ashley in one of the Dance in America Balanchine programs - she was featured prominently in the series, so along with Davidsbundlertanze her dancing is reasonably well represented on video. The "walking" pas de deux with Sean Lavery was striking but I thought she came off much better in the roles that Balanchine custom-built for her.

I'd love to hear more from people who saw her dance in person. What was she like in "Kammermusik No. 2"?

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I am so sorry to hear of this. I once had a lovely experience, back in the 1980s, only a year or so before Balanchine's death, of going into a coffeeshop with a friend, after seeing a performance of Davidsbundlertanze, talking about how wonderful it was, and after sitting down at a table, discovering that we were sitting right next to Balanchine and Karin von Aroldingen! She was facing me, and as recognition of who I was sitting next to dawned on my face, she gave me a lovely smile of acknowledgement. It was a magical moment for me.

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An interview from 1997.

Quote

More than 800 productions have been staged worldwide since his death, overseen by a network of roughly 15 of his principal dancers. Ms. von Aroldingen herself has worked in mainland China, Korea, Africa, Australia, and across the United States.

"We have such a strong network that I know nothing will be lost in my lifetime. Balanchine was like Stravinsky. They said now is now, I don't care what's after me. But we care."

 

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Posted (edited)

So sorry to hear about this. I did see Karin von Aroldingen dance in person many times. I think the world of her now, but I'm sorry to say I did not appreciate her dancing that much at the time. I never saw her in Who Cares? Union Jack, Davidsbundlertanze or Liebeslieder. This might sound strange, but I think she was like lemon, or vinegar, too much for my adolescent palette, but adding a sharpness that brought more dimension to whatever you were watching... more depth.  That was my feeling about Stravinsky Violin Concerto and Kammermusik in any case.

When I think of the women dancing during the last Balanchine years they were all so individual and distinct from each other. Karin, Suzanne, Merrill, Kyra Nichols, Maria Calegari, Lourdes Lopez, young Darci. You would never sit in the audience and wonder who was who. 

I've seen many of the videos of her coaching and teaching. I'm glad she's there dancing on film, too. It's a great loss.

Edited by BalanchineFan

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Many thanks for the video clips here -- it's a pleasure to see her in movement again.

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1 hour ago, BalanchineFan said:

Karin von Aroldingen leading the first movement of Symphony in C.

Watch out -- this is cued to the beginning of the third movement -- rewind to see it from the top.

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14 hours ago, sandik said:

Watch out -- this is cued to the beginning of the third movement -- rewind to see it from the top.

Thanks! I didn't realize it would do that.

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17 hours ago, BalanchineFan said:

So sorry to hear about this. I did see Karin von Aroldingen dance in person many times. I think the world of her now, but I'm sorry to say I did not appreciate her dancing that much at the time. I never saw her in Who Cares? Union Jack, Davidsbundlertanze or Liebeslieder. This might sound strange, but I think she was like lemon, or vinegar, too much for my adolescent palette, but adding a sharpness that brought more dimension to whatever you were watching... more depth.  That was my feeling about Stravinsky Violin Concerto and Kammermusik in any case.

When I think of the women dancing during the last Balanchine years they were all so individual and distinct from each other. Karin, Suzanne, Merrill, Kyra Nichols, Maria Calegari, Lourdes Lopez, young Darci. You would never sit in the audience and wonder who was who. 

I've seen many of the videos of her coaching and teaching. I'm glad she's there dancing on film, too. It's a great loss.

Thank you for the memories and the clips, BalanchineFan.

Von Aroldingen would have been pleased by the lemon and vinegar simile, I think. :)

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I was lucky to have seen her in Union Jack, one of the great roles for a woman, fierce as anything, Davidsbunderltanze, where her performances were indelible as the woman in white, and Liebeslieder, to which she brought maturity and gravitas.

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I hope that someone will write a (very good) biography of Karin von Aroldingen.  She must have had a fascinating life. RIP.

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I'm sorry to hear of this. RIP Ms. von Aroldingen.

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Was von Aroldingen a Repetiteur? I guess that pays very well to have an apt like that. Or, perhaps her late husband had money. What a lovely apt.

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