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Balanchine Celebration Season announced

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At a press conference this afternoon, the company announced the details of the 2003-2004 season. (Mary Cargill attended the conference and gave me this information over the phone; she'll add more detail later.)

There will be 164 performances, 81 ballets.

The Winter Season is called "Influences" and has lots of full-lengths: Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Harlequinade, Coppelia, Jewels, Nutcracker. It centers on the choreographers that influenced Balanchine -- Petipa, Bournonville, Ivanov, Fokine. There will be a few of Balanchine's early ballets in this part of the season. AND a new full-length by Susan Stroman, a story ballet with Broadway tunes.

The Spring Season is "Music" and divided into European, American and Russian sections. The European (25 ballets, 20 by Balanchine) includes a World Premiere by Christopher Wheeldon. The American (14 ballets, 5 by Balanchine) is mostly Robbins and Martins and will include a Martins World Premiere. And the Russian section (25 ballets, 17 by Balanchine) will include a one-act work by Boris Eifman (who attended the press conference) to selections from Bach and the final movement of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony.

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Here is the Full Press Release (from the NYCB website):

For Immediate Release - May 25, 2003


Nearly 200 Performances Will Explore Heritage and Celebrate Vision

of One of the 20th Century’s Most Influential Choreographers

The Centennial Celebration to Include Performances of 54 Works Choreographed by Balanchine, 42 of Which Were Created

for New York City Ballet

World Premiere Ballets Commissioned for the Celebration from Boris Eifman, Peter Martins, Susan Stroman, and Christopher Wheeldon

Special Guests to Include Valery Gergiev and

the Georgian State Dance Company

New York City Ballet will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of its co-founder George Balanchine, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on January 22, 1904, with an extraordinary celebration of his life and work at the New York State Theater from November 23, 2003, through June 27, 2004.

In addition, New York City Ballet will bring Balanchine 100: The Centennial Celebration to audiences in St. Petersburg, Russia (July 30 – August 5, 2003); Copenhagen, Denmark (September 2–7, 2003); Washington, DC (March 1–8, 2004); and Saratoga Springs, New York (July 6–24, 2004). Plus, during September and October of 2004, NYCB is planning to continue the Centennial Celebration with engagements in Tokyo, and in Los Angeles and Orange County, California.

The most extensive celebration of its kind, Balanchine 100: The Centennial Celebration at New York City Ballet has been conceived by NYCB Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins as an exhibition-style approach to Balanchine’s life and work that will span his classical heritage and influences, his early years, and finally, his vision of a new ballet repertory, which he built at New York City Ballet from 1948 until his death in 1983.

During the course of the winter and spring seasons, the Centennial Celebration will feature 81 different ballets (18 in the winter and 64 in the spring), with only Apollo being performed in both the winter season, and again in the spring, when it will be part of a special one-night-only performance of the Stravinsky/Balanchine Greek trilogy: Apollo, Orpheus, and Agon. Of the 81 ballets being performed during the Centennial Celebration, 54 were choreographed by Balanchine.

In addition, the Centennial Celebration will pay tribute to Balanchine’s legacy as a director and his commitment to building a new ballet repertory, not only with his own ballets, but through the work of numerous other choreographers whom he invited to create ballets for New York City Ballet. To this day, NYCB continues to honor Balanchine’s legacy of new choreography, and for the Centennial Celebration, world premiere ballets will be created by Boris Eifman, Peter Martins, Susan Stroman, and Christopher Wheeldon.

Following the summer performances in St. Petersburg and Copenhagen, Balanchine 100: The Centennial Celebration will begin in New York City on Tuesday, November 25, 2003, with New York City Ballet performing an all-Balanchine program for its annual Opening Night Benefit at the New York State Theater. The celebration will continue with NYCB’s annual holiday presentation of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, which runs from November 28 through January 4.

From January 6 through February 29, 2004, New York City Ballet’s winter repertory season will explore Balanchine’s classical heritage and his journey from St. Petersburg, Russia, which he left in 1924. For the next nine years he worked throughout Europe in such cities as Berlin, London, Paris, Copenhagen, and Monte Carlo, before arriving in New York in 1933, where, with Lincoln Kirstein, he created the School of American Ballet and later, the New York City Ballet.

During his early years in New York, Balanchine also worked on Broadway, and in a tribute to his pioneering work in musical comedy, the winter season will also feature a world premiere by Broadway director and choreographer Susan Stroman.

The 2004 spring repertory season, April 27 through June 27, will celebrate the company Balanchine built, the New York City Ballet, and his creation of a new ballet repertory. For this nine-week spring season, in honor of Balanchine’s celebratory music festivals, Peter Martins has programmed a four-week European Music Festival, a two-week American Music Festival, and a three-week Russian Music Festival.

The spring season will also feature world premiere ballets by Christopher Wheeldon (European Festival), Peter Martins (American Festival), and Boris Eifman (Russian Festival).

On two performances during the final week of the spring season, New York City Ballet will be joined by the Georgian State Dance Company, which is based in Balanchine’s ancestral home in Tblisi, Georgia, and was one of his favorite performing groups. In addition, on Sunday, June 27 at 7 p.m., the Georgian State Dance Company will give a full-evening performance to close the spring season.

Widely regarded as one of ballet’s foremost choreographers and one of the great artists of the 20th Century, Balanchine had an immense influence on the world of dance, as well as a profound impact on the cultural history of New York City.

After arriving in America in 1933, Balanchine, with NYCB co-founder Lincoln Kirstein, first opened the School of American Ballet. Several short-lived ballet companies followed, culminating in the establishment of the New York City Ballet in 1948. From that time until his death in 1983, Balanchine led NYCB to international acclaim, while creating a new ballet repertory that is unparalleled in the history of dance. An authoritative catalogue of Balanchine’s creative output lists 425 works created from 1920 to 1982, many of which are recognized as masterpieces of the 20th Century and are performed today by ballet companies around the world.


New York City Ballet will launch its New York performances of Balanchine 100: The Centennial Celebration with a one-time-only all-Balanchine program for the Company’s annual Opening Night Benefit on Tuesday, November 25, 2003. Program to be announced at a later date.

The Centennial Celebration will continue with New York City Ballet’s annual holiday presentation of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, from Friday, November 28, through Sunday, January 4.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ is a beloved New York tradition that has been performed each year in New York City since its premiere on February 2, 1954. At that time the ballet was relatively unknown in the West, and the success of Balanchine’s production for New York City Ballet paved the way for The Nutcracker to become one of the most popular ballets in America. As a boy Balanchine danced several roles in the Maryinsky Theater’s production of The Nutcracker and at the age of 15, he made his debut as the Nutcracker Prince. A favorite ballet from his childhood, The Nutcracker was chosen by Balanchine as his first full-evening production for New York City Ballet.


The Centennial Celebration will continue with New York City Ballet’s 2004 winter repertory season, from January 6 through February 29. During this eight-week season, New York City Ballet will perform 17 ballets that explore Balanchine’s classical heritage and early influences, as well as several of his own early works. The winter season will also include the Centennial Celebration’s first new ballet, a world premiere by Broadway director and choreographer Susan Stroman in a tribute to Balanchine’s legendary contributions to the Broadway stage.

HERITAGE – Influences: Petipa, Ivanov, Fokine, Bournonville

Balanchine’s first appearance on any stage was in St. Petersburg as a bug in a theatrical production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As a tribute to that debut, New York City Ballet will begin its exploration of Balanchine’s heritage with the choreographer’s own production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Choreographed in 1962, A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the first original, full-length story ballet created in America.

Balanchine once said, “Everything I taught I learned as a child in St. Petersburg at the Maryinsky School,” and to honor his classical heritage, in addition to George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, the winter season will include Coppélia and Harlequinade, as well as Peter Martins’ stagings of Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty, all of which feature choreography after Marius Petipa, who served as ballet master of the Imperial Ballet Company at St. Petersburg’s Maryinsky Theater from 1886 until 1903. In addition, Martins’ production of Swan Lake, also features choreography after Lev Ivanov, the Russian choreographer and ballet master best known for his work on Tschaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

The season will also include students from the School of American Ballet performing Michel Fokine’s Chopiniana. Choreographed in 1908, Chopiniana was the first plotless work that Balanchine encountered as a boy in St. Petersburg.

In 1924 Balanchine left St. Petersburg, eventually arriving in Paris, where he soon became ballet master for Serge Diaghilev’s legendary Ballets Russes. It was for the Ballets Russes that Balanchine created two of his early masterpieces, Apollo (1928) and Prodigal Son (1929), both of which will be performed during the 2004 winter season.

Following Diaghilev’s death in 1929, which marked the end of the Ballets Russes, Balanchine continue to travel and work throughout Europe. From August 1930 to January 1931 he served as guest ballet master for the Royal Danish Ballet and became acquainted with the work of August Bournonville, the prolific choreographer and noted teacher who served as the ballet master of the Royal Danish Ballet from 1830 to 1877. In a celebration of Balanchine’s time in Denmark, the winter season will include Bournonville’s Flower Festival in Genzano, as well as two works by Balanchine that were inspired by the Danish master, Donizetti Variations and Scotch Symphony.

HERITAGE – Early Works

On October 18, 1933, Balanchine arrived in America at the invitation of Lincoln Kirstein, whose great passion for the contemporary arts included the dream of establishing an American ballet company that would rival those of Europe, and who was convinced that Balanchine was the person who could make that dream a reality. Although Kirstein was intent on creating a ballet company right from the start, it was Balanchine who famously said, “But first a school,” and so, with the opening of the School of American Ballet on January 1, 1934, the two men took the first step toward creating a new American ballet company comprised of dancers trained by Balanchine.

In the spring of 1934, using students from the School of American Ballet, Balanchine choreographed Serenade, the first work he created in America, and one of his best-known ballets. Set to Tschaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings and featuring 26 dancers, Serenade continues to be a staple of the NYCB repertory.

The School of American Ballet continues to train the vast majority of dancers who make up the New York City Ballet, and throughout the Centennial Celebration students from SAB will perform in a total of 12 different ballets, including most of the winter season full-length repertory.

On January 22, 2004, to mark the actual centennial of Balanchine’s birth, New York City Ballet will perform a one-time-only program consisting of three of Balanchine’s most important early works: Apollo, Serenade, and Prodigal Son.

Other early works created in America that will be performed during the winter season include Concerto Barocco, choreographed in 1941, and included on New York City Ballet’s first performance, which took place on October 11, 1948, at New York’s City Center Theater.

The winter season exploration of Balanchine’s heritage will also include Tschaikosvsky Piano Concerto No. 2, which Balanchine choreographed in 1941 for American Ballet Caravan. Created as a tribute to St. Petersburg, Petipa, and Tschaikovsky, the ballet was originally titled Ballet Imperial and featured classical tutus and a backdrop painted to resemble a scenic view of the Imperial Russian capital. In 1973 Balanchine restaged the ballet without the elaborate production elements, and renamed it Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2. By any name, it is one of Balanchine’s great masterpieces, and a pure dance expression of his classical heritage.


The winter season will also include Balanchine’s Jewels, which he created in 1967 at New York City Ballet’s new home, the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, which was built for Balanchine and NYCB. The first plotless, full-evening ballet ever created, Jewels consists of three acts – Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds ™ which pay tribute to the three countries that played such important roles in Balanchine’s creative life: France (Emeralds), America (Rubies), and Russia (Diamonds).

New York City Ballet has not performed Jewels since 1999, and for Balanchine 100: The Centennial Celebration, the ballet will be presented as a major revival, featuring new set designs by Peter Harvey, who was Balanchine’s original designer for Jewels.

HERITAGE – Broadway – Susan Stroman World Premiere

Another element of Balanchine’s early years in America was his work on Broadway and in Hollywood. From 1936 to 1951 Balanchine created the choreography for more than 15 Broadway shows, working with such Broadway legends as Rodgers and Hart, Florenz Ziegfeld, George Abbott, and Josephine Baker. In addition, Balanchine also created the choreography for several Hollywood films including The Goldwyn Follies (1938) and I Was an Adventuress (1940).

For Broadway musical comedy, Balanchine created the first dances that functioned as essential elements of the story, and were not just plot-stopping interludes. He was also the first choreographer on Broadway, at his insistence, to be credited with “choreography by” rather than “dances by.”

The first musical comedy to feature Balanchine choreography was Rodgers and Hart’s On Your Toes, which premiered on April 11, 1936, starred Tamara Geva and Ray Bolger, and was set in the backstage world of ballet. A highlight of that production was the Slaughter on Tenth Avenue ballet sequence, which Balanchine added to the repertory of New York City Ballet in 1968, and which will be performed as part of the winter season.

In a tribute to Balanchine’s pioneering work on Broadway, the first world premiere of the Centennial Celebration will be by five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman (The Producers, Contact, Crazy for You, Showboat). The evening-length ballet will feature music by Irving Berlin and Walter Donaldson, and will receive its world premiere on Friday, January 23.


For the 2004 spring season, New York City Ballet will continue Balanchine 100: The Centennial Celebration with a nine-week celebration of Balanchine’s vision and his creation of an unparalleled new ballet repertory. The spring season will include 64 works, of which 42 are by Balanchine.

Also trained as a musician, Balanchine once said, “I cannot move, I cannot even want to move, unless I hear the music first.” For New York City Ballet, Balanchine commissioned music from such celebrated composers as Stravinsky and Hindemith. He also produced several now-legendary festivals celebrating the music of Stravinsky, Ravel, and Tschaikovsky. In honor of those musical celebrations, the spring season has been designed as a nine-week music festival, featuring the music of 40 different composers.

The season will begin with a four-week European Festival (April 27 – May 23); followed by a two-week American Festival (May 25 – June 6); and finally, a three-week Russian Festival (June 8 – June 27).

VISION – European Festival – Christopher Wheeldon World Premiere

The spring season will open with a European Festival, featuring the music of 23 composers, and 20 works by Balanchine, including such favorites as Symphony in C (Bizet), Liebesleider Walzer (Brahms), Divertimento No. 15 (Mozart), La Valse (Ravel), and Union Jack (traditional British).

During the European Festival, the Company will present a one-time-only Balanchine Tribute program, for its annual Spring Gala on Wednesday, May 5, 2004. Guest artists and repertory for this special program will be announced at a later date.

The festival will also include Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, which features a score by Paul Hindemith, the first of a number of scores that were commissioned by Balanchine. Created in 1946, the ballet originally featured elaborate costume designs by Kurt Seligman. In 1951 Balanchine omitted the costumes in favor of black and white rehearsal clothes. This costuming became the signature look of NYCB, and the European Festival will also include the black and white Episodes (Webern).

In addition the European Festival will feature special tribute evenings to the music of France (April 27), Germany (May 1), Austria (May 6), Great Britain (May 15), and Italy (May 18).

The European Festival will also feature the first world premiere of the spring season, by New York City Ballet’s Resident Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, and set to a commissioned score by the Scottish composer James MacMillan, who will conduct the NYCB Orchestra for the ballet’s world premiere. This will be the tenth ballet that Wheeldon has choreographed for New York City Ballet, and it will also mark the first time ever that Wheeldon has worked with a composer on a commissioned score. The Wheeldon premiere will take place on Saturday, May 8, at 8 p.m.

VISION – American Festival – Peter Martins World Premiere

Balanchine once said, “I always wanted to be American,” and the second festival of the spring season will feature a two-week look at American music and the ballets inspired by that music.

The American Festival will begin on Tuesday, May 25, with an all-Balanchine program consisting of Who Cares? (Gershwin), Western Symphony (Kay), and Stars and Stripes (Sousa).

Also represented will be Jerome Robbins, whose ballets will be featured throughout the spring season. Well known for his work on Broadway, where he created such landmark shows as Gypsy, West Side Story, and Fiddler on the Roof, Robbins was also one of the 20th Century’s greatest ballet choreographers, and New York City Ballet was his creative home for much of his career. Balanchine invited Robbins to join New York City Ballet as associate artistic director in 1949, and from that time until his death in 1998, he contributed nearly 50 works to the NYCB repertory.

The 12 Robbins’ works that will be featured during the spring season are: Afternoon of a Faun, The Four Seasons, and Dances at a Gathering (European Festival); Fancy Free, Glass Pieces, I’m Old Fashioned, Interplay, and West Side Story Suite (American Festival); and Andantino, The Cage, Circus Polka, and Opus 19/The Dreamer (Russian Festival).

The American Festival will also include Peter Martins’ Barber Violin Concerto and Calcium Light Night, which was the first ballet choreographed by Martins, and in 1978 became his first ballet to enter the NYCB repertory, at Balanchine’s invitation. Martins, a champion of contemporary American music, will also create a new ballet for the American Festival, which will have its world premiere on Wednesday, June 2.

VISION – Russian Festival – Boris Eifman World Premiere

The final three weeks of Balanchine 100: The Centennial Celebration will consist of a tribute to the music of Russia, Balanchine’s homeland. Although Balanchine once said, “I am more American than Russian,” he still turned to the music of Russian composers, especially Stravinsky and Tschaikovsky, more than any others for inspiration.

Highlights of the Russian Festival will include many of the seminal Stravinsky/Balanchine masterpieces including Symphony in Three Movements, Duo Concertant, and Firebird. A one-time-only program on Thursday, June 10, will feature the Stravinsky/Balanchine Greek trilogy of Apollo, Orpheus, and Agon.

For the opening night of the Russian Festival on Tuesday, June 8, Valery Gergiev, Artistic and General Director of the Maryinsky Theater, will conduct the New York City Ballet Orchestra.

Other highlights of the Russian Festival will include Martins’ Zakouski, and a revival of Concerto for Two Solo Pianos, which Balanchine commissioned from Martins in 1982.

The festival will also include a world premiere ballet by the St. Petersburg-based choreographer Boris Eifman. This will mark the first time that Eifman has created a work for an American company, and the ballet will premiere on Friday, June 18.

In addition, the Georgian State Dance Company, from Balanchine’s ancestral home in Tiblsi, Georgia, will join New York City Ballet for two repertory performances: Friday, June 25, and Saturday, June 26, at 8 p.m. One of Balanchine’s favorite performing groups, the Georgian State Dance Company will also give a full-evening performance at 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 27, to close the spring season.


In addition to the performances at the New York State Theater, Balanchine 100: The Centennial Celebration will feature a wide array of special presentations, including pre-performance Ballet Insights and Family Insights discussions, as well as Centennial Celebration seminars on select Monday evenings throughout both seasons. Topics will include various aspects of Balanchine’s creative life; dates and speakers for these presentations will be announced at a later date.

New York City Ballet will also produce a special Balanchine 100 Centennial Exhibition, which will be on display at the New York State Theater during the winter (January 6 through February 29) and spring (April 27 through June 27) seasons. Curated by Edward Bigelow, who worked with Balanchine throughout much of his career in America, the theater-wide exhibit will explore Balanchine’s life and work through photographs, costumes, artifacts, and other ephemera. A limited-edition catalogue will accompany the exhibition.

During the course of Balanchine 100: The Centennial Celebration, New York City Ballet will also produce a series of one-time-only special events, which will include: Opening Night Benefit (Tuesday, November 25, 2003); The Nutcracker Family Benefit (Saturday, December 31, 2003); Annual Luncheon (Tuesday, February 3, 2004); Spring Gala (Wednesday, May 5, 2004); and Dance with the Dancers (Monday, June 14, 2004).


In addition to performances at Lincoln Center, New York City Ballet will bring the Centennial Celebration to several continents over the next year and a half. For the first of these engagements, NYCB will return to Balanchine’s birthplace for a one-week engagement in St. Petersburg’s Maryinsky Theater from July 30 through August 5, 2003. The engagement, which is part of St. Petersburg’s tri-centennial celebration, will close the 2003 White Nights Festival, and will feature such seminal Balanchine works as Serenade, Symphony in Three Movements, Symphony in C, and Concerto Barocco. This will mark only the third time in NYCB history that the Company has performed in Russia; the previous visits were in 1962 and 1972.

From September 2 through 7, 2003, the company will perform at the Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen, Denmark. For these performances the Company will perform 14 ballets, including 6 by Balanchine. During the early 1930s, Balanchine lived and worked in Copenhagen as a guest ballet master for the Royal Danish Ballet.

Following the 2004 winter season at Lincoln Center, New York City Ballet will travel to Washington, DC, for a week of performances at the Kennedy Center, from March 1 through 8, 2004. This engagement, which will feature an all-Balanchine repertory, will mark the first time that the Company has performed in the nation’s capital since 1987.

Following the 2004 spring season, New York City Ballet will bring the Centennial Celebration to its summer home in Saratoga Springs, New York, for three weeks of performances at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, July 6 through 24, 2004.

The company will then embark on a tour of Japan and California, from September 24 through October 10, 2004, which will include week-long engagements at Tokyo’s Bunkamura Hall; and at California’s Orange County Performing Arts Center and The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at The Los Angeles Music Center.


Tickets for George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ are currently on sale by mail, and will go on sale through the NYCB website at www.nycballet.com starting July 14. Tickets for the Opening Night benefit and all performances of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ will be available at the New York State Theater box office beginning September 29 and through Ticketmaster at 212-307-4100 beginning September 30.

Winter season subscription series will go on sale through www.nycballet.com beginning July 14, and by mail and through the NYCB subscription office at 800-580-8730 beginning July 18. Winter season subscribers will also have the opportunity to pre-order their spring season subscriptions at this time.

Single-ticket orders for the winter repertory season will be accepted by mail and through www.nycballet.com beginning September 29. Single tickets will also be available through Ticketmaster at 212-307-4100 beginning November 23 and at the New York State Theater box office beginning November 24.

Beginning January 19, spring season subscription series will go on sale by mail, through www.nycballet.com, and through the NYCB subscription office at 800-580-8730. Single-ticket orders for the spring season will be accepted by mail and through www.nycballet.com beginning March 12, through Ticketmaster at 212-307-4100 beginning April 11, and at the New York State Theater box office beginning April 12. Tickets for the Spring Gala benefit will be available through Ticketmaster beginning April 11 and at the New York State Theater box office beginning April 12.

For more information on the Opening Night or Spring Gala benefits, call the Special Events office at 212-870-5585.

The New York State Theater is located on the Lincoln Center Plaza at Broadway at 63rd Street. The mailing address for the NYCB box office is New York City Ballet, New York State Theater, 20 Lincoln Center, New York, NY 10023. For general information on tickets for any New York City Ballet performance, call 212-870-5570, or visit www.nycballet.com.

Balanchine 100: The Centennial Celebration is generously supported by the Harriet Ford Dickenson Foundation.

Lead support for the creation of new work is provided by The Irene Diamond Fund and members of the New Combinations Fund, and by the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund.

NYCB’s performances are made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Major support for the 2003-2004 season is also provided by The Shubert Foundation and contributors to the Repertory and Education Funds.

The logo for Balanchine 100: The Centennial Celebration was inspired by a 1959 photograph of George Balanchine by Henri Cartier-Bresson.

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Well, I have to say it sounds quite disappointing. Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty? Couldn't that wait a year? And I guess they have to perform Robbins -- despite rumours of an all-Balanchine season -- due to the demands of the Robbins foundation.

What's more, it doesn't leave much room for revivals of rarely-performed Balanchine works. If not next year, when?

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Guest Helena Handbasket

I'm the quiet type who'd much rather lurk than chat, but this topic has wrenched me out of my closet. I DO so love a good April Fool's joke and thought the Stroman and Eifman pairing was a STROKE of genius, until I realized that IT ISN'T APRIL 1ST!!!

It's instructive to find that they can only find five "American" ballets by Mr. Balanchine. And that "Square Dance" is European -- oh, of course. The music is European. My, my. Not a good eye for the larger picture, eh? So much to learn -- that Mr. B was influenced by Peter Martins' "Swan Lake" and "Sleeping Beauty." It is a rethinking of the legacy, in its own little way, isn't it?

I'm of two minds. Is this the Marketing Department run amok, packaging this and packaging that and having a wonderful time designing brochures? Or is the Artistic Direction planning a funeral rather than a birthday?

I must go find the smelling salts........

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Ditto on the disappointment. It seems like the Powers That Be will do anything to...what else, make a new ballet! How about honor Balanchine by dancing only Balanchine, as they did for the Balanchine Celebration in 1993. This is a very, very nice season, but it should be the season for every other season. It should/could have been this season or 2005 or 1996. Yes, GB encouraged new choreography, but he was most interested in his own work (in my opinion). Again, all the resources are going to go to the new works, not Balanchine's. I'm surprised because I thought Martin did well with the 1993 season and the 50th anniversary season of 1998.

And how about bring back some of the works revived for the 1993 celebration - Bourree Fantastique, Haieff Divertimento, Dances Concertante, Symphonie Concertant or Glinka Pas de Trois? Or how about borrowing Cotillion from the Joffrey? How about special coaches?

Again, this is a great season they've unveiled, for 2005, not for Balanchine's Centennial.

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Guest May A. Culpa

Well, darlings, they're trying to drive the nails firmly into Mr. B's coffin.

It must be so tedious to have to cultivate and care for a legacy of a man who like Generalissimo Francisco Franco, remains resolutely dead. So let's celebrate Mr. B's incomparable genius by doing fewer of his works than were done at the 1993 festival and let's do some new ballets by Susan Stroman and Boris Eifman. There's such a huge connection between them and Balanchine to say nothing of both of their strong classical roots.

If I didn't love the company so much I would cry, but running mascara is so unseemly. I only wish there was something we could do to stop this madness. Could we boycott? Could we sue?

Back to lurkdom I go.


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I must say I'm suprised as well, I would expect them to be performing all Balanchine pieces or at least new works that are attributed to Balanchine influences and such. Something at least in the line of direct influences from him or that he recieved in his training. I just don't understand why we need to see swan lake again, it just seems to be being over performed since Martins did it. Even Balanchine's short Swan Lake excerpt would be better. I'll still attend performances of course as I'm interesting to see what Stroman does but this is a disappointment.

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It is disgraceful for Peter Martins to honour in this way the centennial of the greatest choreographer of the 20th century. If I come to NYC next season, I will pick a week with the most Balanchine ballets and avoid the rubbish choreographed by Martins.

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To add a bit to the press release. The Susan Stroman work will be a full lenght story piece, in two acts, the first a drama to songs by Irving Berlin, and the second a comedy to songs by Walter Donaldson. (popular show tunes.) It will be set in the 1920's. I forsee a Charleston finale.

There will be 23 all Balanchine evenings.

The Eifman piece will take as its subject the genius and vision of Balanchine. It is not biographical, but will be about the contributions of his choreography, with music, as was said, based on pieces of Bach and the finale of Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony. It is appearing as part of the Russian music section of the Spring Season.

Peter Martins mentioned that Mr. Balanchine was so happy to see Georgian folk dancing when they were in Russia, and so he has invited the Georgian National Dance Company from Tblisi to perform. They will close the season with a complete evening.

There will be guest artists, but the only one confirmed is Gergiev, who will conduct the first performance of the Russian festival.

The Winter season (hertiage) is programmed around the choreographers that Mr. Balanchine told Peter Martins he had been most influenced by, Petipa, Ivanov, Fokine, and Bournonville. But with some imagination and concern for historical accuracy, Loupokov and Goleizovsky should be included, if only by photographs. Mr. Martins said they would be dancing Chopiniana, which may mean that it is the romantic tutuless version, which has about as much to do with influencing Balanchine as Peter Martins' Tchaikovsky ballets, which I can't imagine influencing a toad to jump off a log, much less a great choreographer.

Nothing was said about coaching or style. I think we can forget ever seeing the Haieff Divertimento, which is very disapointing. Someone asked the question about revivals or productions of Balanchine works which were't done by NYCB (like La Chatte and Cotillon) and was told there wouldn't be any--no time, and choices had to be made.

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Does the inclusion of Bournonville among the "influences" mean the return of Bournonville Divertissements? And how many excerpts will there be? The last time the company did this — many a long year ago — they left out some diverts.

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The press release says that there are about 425 works in the Balanchine canon yet we are only to see 54 of them during the whole of 2003-2004. I don't like the odds at all.

Does anyone out there remember or know how many were done during the 1993 festival? I was hoping we'd have another repeat of that season, but that's not to be. . .

On the bright side: Union Jack will be back as well as Jewels. (I'm only hoping that it's not done in some "new age" design with heavy metal type scenery, but maybe, maybe we will go back to the original scenery -- not the jewel box that's the current design.)

I'm on the side of those who expressed their disappointment.

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I believe that there were 75 Balanchine ballets in 93. Although Balanchine choreographed 400+ works, it is generally considered that the canon is 75-90 pieces. Among the 400+ works are pieces done for movies, Broadway and a ballet for circus elephants as well as many pieces, which are considered to be lost.

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Originally posted by cargill

To add a bit to the press release.  The Susan Stroman work will be a full lenght  story piece, . . .

Well, conceding that Broadway was an important (if less durable) aspect of Balanchine's career, isn't there someone who's done Broadway with a perceptible tie to Balanchine? Let's see . . . Robbins (busy elsewhere), Lindy Roy (inexperienced), Reinking (no), Martins . . . I'll go with Stroman.
I think we can forget ever seeing the Haieff Divertimento,. . . .  revivals or productions of Balanchine works which were't done by NYCB . . .
Also apparently missing in action (as it was -- inexplicably -- in '93): Gounod Symphony. This lovely gem seems fated for extinction.
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Now, explain it to me again? Peter Martins' alleged Swan Lake influenced Balanchine how? Or are they bringing in a competent stager to do the real thing? If the former, maybe it has to do with consubstantiation, where there is no change on earth, but a change in heaven. If the latter, about damn time.

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Mel, I tried to plot it out on a flow chart for you, but it's got arrows pointing in several directions at once, and I don't know how to transfer it to this format. ;) But the Martins Swan Fake is, like, so way, way, way after Ivanov and Petipa, that crediting the "sources" is gratuitous, at best.

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Maybe there would be time to do revivals if there were less new ballets :) Or less ballets by other choreographers. If it's important, you make time.

Mary, you're right about Loupokov and Goleizovsky - the connections of "influences" seems to be very shallow. I miss a sense of true understanding of Balanchine and what was important to him.

Even the season has a title to it - it makes it sound like the latest video game, "Balanchine at 100," or a tennis tournament, "The Balanchine Open 100."

I wonder what the Balanchine Foundation or Trust think of this tribute.

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Originally posted by Dale

Maybe there would be time to do revivals if there were less new ballets :) Or less ballets by other choreographers.  If it's important, you make time.  

Well, Dale, if you haven't nailed NYCB's problem of the last 20 years! Brava!

I'm thinking their artistic model has come to be: Balanchine, yes, we do him, too.

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