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Symphony in C

Guest IrishKitri

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Guest IrishKitri

Can somebody please tell me what Symphony this is? I know I should know this as a ballet dancer, but I don´t, so please bear with me :D ...

I guess it could be a Tchaikovsky symphony, but if, which number?

Thanks a lot for your help!


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IrishKitri, Symphony in C is a masterpiece, both in its original form and as one of the great Balanchine ballets. Bizet, who was a prodigy, wrote it in 1855 when he was seventeen (you won't believe that when you hear it.... :D. It was languishing in obscurity, not having been played in concerts for many years, when Balanchine made his ballet Le Palais de Cristal to it in 1947; the name was changed to Symphony in C when the ballet became a staple of NYCB's repertoire.

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Bizet was not successful during his all-too-brief lifetime. Even his last opera, Carmen, was a failure at its opening. A short time later Bizet was dead, and

Carmen on its way to becoming the best-known opera in the world.

I was startled the other day to hear an announcer on a classical-music station (WNYC-FM), refer to Symphony in C as "Bizet's first symphony." Did she know something we don't?

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Now that's an interesting question -- thinking of the artist's biographies and autobiographies I've read, think there's a Condition (it's not quite a syndrome) that causes them to know exactly how good they are and, in one pocket of their heart understand this and demand recognition; but in another pocket, they think they're worthless. And although these seem contradictory, they seem to coexist in many people. (This must be distinguished from Polite Modesty, as when Ashton would refer to "my poor baubles." He knew they weren't poor baubles, but I think he wanted the person he was addressing to tell him this. Part reassurance, perhaps, and part acknowledgement.)

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Roma : Chor: George Balanchine; mus: Georges Bizet; scen & cos: Eugene Berman; lighting: Jean Rosenthal. First perf: New York, City Center, Feb 23, 1955, New York City Ballet.

(the costumes can nowadays be seen dressing 'divertimento from le baiser de la fee')

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wry smile. Poor, indeed. I think the Condition Alexandra mentions has to do, often, with the appalling poverty and money struggles of MANY great artists (sorry to be so obvious, but...). experiences such as Mozart's (being told your music has "too many notes") and Rodin's certainly don't bolster the self-esteem-- and then there was Dickinson, never even published or heard during her life.

Joe, Roma was for Tanaquil LeClercq and Andre Eglevsky. everyone who saw the ballet (precious few, unfortunately) raved. it disappeared from the repertoire even before LeClercq's career was ended by polio, and has never been revived...

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Edwin Denby is quoted in Repertory in Review, "Roma was not much of a success at its opening. Its modesty turned out to be an extremely avant-garde effect. People went to see what new twist Balanchine had dreamed up and when they were shown the innocent art of dancing they were too bewildered to recognize it."

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No sort of just Mo. The failure of the ballet was attributed to the Berman scenery, which seemed to owe a lot to the spikiness of Jean Carzou, combined with a lot of what looked like wash drying on clotheslines. The costumes were OK, but the Carzoudledom was too much for most of the 1955 audience.

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Reviving an old thread. I had a chance recently to see a video of the Royal Ballet dancing Symphony in C in 1997 (Yoshida/Sansom, Bussell/Saunders, Benjamin/Trevitt, Bull/Cassidy), and I found their interpretation to be just delightful, because it so highlighted all their English qualities. They had a soft elegance that's so different from NYCB's jagged edges. We often have discussions here about the right style and whatnot, but I wonder if there are certain ballets that better serve as vehicles for showing off a company's own style, and are the better for it because of the diversity of interpretation. I can only imagine how awesome the POB must look in Symphony in C, and I find the idea of a Russian version danced by the Kirov to be very intriguing.

Since it was made on the POB so long ago, I can't imagine Symphony in C to be one of those ballets that really demands Balanchine style, whatever that may be! Its use of mostly pretty fundamental ballet steps would seem to let it be easily adaptable to many different schools of style.


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The day after tomorrow I will be watching my first ever Symphony in C. I will watch clips of whatever is available online in advance, but I still would like to get some info and insights from you guys....WHATEVER you can add will be very helpful.-(as it has been in the past with other B. newbies for me)


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I will also be at the performance in Miami, cubanmiamiboy!

I have not seen Symphony in C in about 10 years. My memories are ample as a performer and an observer however. All are wonderful, although I must say seeing NYCB dance it 10 years ago did leave me a bit cold. I am interested to see MCB on Thursday. Hopefully the joy of my memories will return. :thumbsup:

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Cristian, Symphony in C was on the City Center program (I), so there are references to the current state of MCB's performances in the reviews that have been posted here.

According to my notes, I first saw it at MCB in March 2004. Jack started a thread on this, here:


The 2003-2004 season was MCB's "Balanchine Centennial Celebration." It was ballets like Symphony in C that hooked me on this company. At that time, the couples in the 2 casts I saw were:

-- Katia Carranza with Mikhail Ilyin in the pyrotechnical first movement, allegro vivo; they are supported by 2 demi-solo couples and a corps of 8 women.

-- Kronenberg and Guerra in the second movement adagio; supoprted by 3 couples and a corps of 8 women.

-- Catoya with Luis Serrano (Carranza's husband and now director of the Ballet de Monterey, Mexico) in the third movement/ this was Villella's role, allegro vivace; supported by 2 couples and a 6-woman corps;

-- Joan Latham (now an MCB ballet mistress) with Didier Bramaz, allegro vivace; supported by 8 couples and an 8-woman corps.

(Deanna Seay and Isanusi-Garcia Rodrigues also danced the first movement at another performance.)

The 4th movement segue-ways right into the finale, with each couple -- and everyone else as well, over 50 on stage -- reappearing. Make sure your eyes are OPEN ALL THE WAY for the conclusion -- one the most thrilling, in my opinion, in classical ballet.

MCB nexted danced it in April 2006.

The performance thread for that is here:


Casts I saw were:

-- 1st Movement: Carranza and Ilyin ( I put a big "GOOD!" next to his name in the program. Ilyin, a principal, later left the company and is now dancing with ABT in the corps.)

also Seay and Kenta Shimizu at another performance

-- Kronenberg and Guerra (Haiyan Wu and Mikhail Nikitine at another performance)

-- Catoya and Penteado (Katia Carranza and Mikhail Ilyin at another performance);

-- Jeanette Delgado (still in the Corps) and Serrano (Patricia Delgado and Didier Bramaz at another performance).

Looking over old cast lists is interesting. In a big-cast ballet like this, Villella is very willing to give new dancers a chance at prominence. Wong, for example, has a demi-solo in spring 2006, during his first season with the company.

I some of our other MCB-watchers on Ballet Talk will correct any errors I've made in the above.

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I some of our other MCB-watchers on Ballet Talk will correct any errors I've made in the above.
New York recently saw this cast:
  • 1st Movement: Catoya, Penteado (plus two demi-solo couples and eight women)
  • 2nd Movement: Wu, Guerra (plus two demi couples, six women, not the eight noted by bart, above)
  • 3rd Movement: J. Delgado, Wong (plus two demi couples, eight women)
  • 4th Movement: P. Delgado, Cox, (plus two demi couples, eight women, later joined by full cast of principals, demis and corps)

I notice that MCB does not list the corps women alphabetically, as I am accustomed to seeing. I didn't notice, but perhaps they are listed in order of appearance?

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I notice that MCB does not list the corps women alphabetically, as I am accustomed to seeing. I didn't notice, but perhaps they are listed in order of appearance?

Interesting. It might be a good idea. It could solve the problem, that I sometimes have, of identifying a corp member that stands out to me.

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