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looking for tips for lecture on Balanchine


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Hi

I have been asked to give a lecture on Balanchine, especially because last year his centennial was celebrated everywhere except in Uruguay!!

Though I am fairly knowledgeable on the subject, I have never lectured before, so I would appreciate suggestions. I must confess that the thought of TALKING to an an audience (as opposed to DANCING) scares me. :D

I suppose my audience will be art or ballet lovers, but with little knowledge on Balanchine (because his work is virtually only known by video)

Will appreciate any help

thanks so much

Silvy

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I would refer to as many biographies about Balanchine as I could get my hands on, Silvy. Also, the book I Remember Balanchine to get the dancers' perspectives on their work with him.....and any Dance Magazine or Ballet News or other magazines (The New Yorker had a great piece on him years ago) that I could find. If you can get any of the books written by his dancers, either their autobiographies or others which explain how he worked, this would provide a great framework for your lecture.

I wish you had access to my personal ballet library, Silvy! I have all these publications, videos, and much more.....you would get dizzy with the amount of wonderful information in print on the great Mr. B! You're getting me excited.....! I would love to give a lecture, too, because the research would be so wonderful to do.

I'd keep the lecture user-friendly, with plenty of published anecdotes, Balanchinisms and pictures in addition to the factual information.

Good luck with your preparation!

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Tell (briefly) who he was.

Give a outline of his career, breaking it down into periods - pre-Diaghilev, Diaghilev, Ballets 1933, American Ballet Caravan & Ballet Society, NYCB.

Mention his important innovations. How did he shape ballet, what were his marks on the art form.

Describe a few of his most important ballets. You might want to mention the ones being done at the Colon in BA in June, but your selection should be those that illustrate your earlier points.

Your best source is Bernard Taper's biography of Balanchine.

See? Easy as pie.

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If you are giving an overview lecture, then it might be helpful to break it down into the main periods/influences of Balanchine's life:

a. Youth through Mariinsky training, the War and revolutionary period, and the escape to Europe.

b. Diaghelev and freelance Europe

c. Coming to America -- starting the school, Metropolitan Opera, Broadway and Hollywood years, intermittent ballet jobs (Ballet Caravan, etc.)

d. Ballet Society and New York City Ballet City Center years.

e. NYCB Lincoln Center years (Ford Foundation influence on SAB students, large theater, company expansion)

If you are able to do a "show and tell" using VHS and DVD clips, then I'm sure your audience would appreciate seeing what you're describing. You could also illustrate threads of influence throughout Balanchine's life. For example, when discussing his Mariinsky training, using Ballet Imperial and Diamonds as the direct descendants of that tradition, as well as showing the use of children in Nutcracker (he danced Candy Cane in St. Petersburg) and A Midsummer Night's Dream (one of his earliest happy memories of performing, again as a student). When discussing the years in Europe, you could show Symphony in C, whose first incarnation as Palais de Cristal was created in the 40's for the Paris Opera Ballet, Oberon's "Intermezzo" in A Midsummer Night's Dream as influenced by his stint at Royal Danish Ballet, etc.

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If I were doing a lecture on Balanchine for increased ballet appreciation... I'd try to turn the audience on to

a. his interest in the music's structure ("see the music, hear the dance")

b. his exploration of the physical limits within the ballet vocabulary (how big can you make this movement...how can you play with the accent to show it off)

c. his influence on the appearance of the modern ballerina

d. where he came from (imperial Russian ballet) and where he went (stripped down neoclassical modernism)

d. his intense relationship with his muses (sort of a curious public interest story)

I think the Teachout biography might be good preparation for such a lecture.

I'm assuming you're lecturing the general public... if you're lecturing academics, I'd take a different approach.

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Silvy, good luck. You've gotten some fine advice so far.

I always think one of the most important parts of this kind of preparation is to know the audience very well: what it expecting to get from the lecture -- what is the level of its experience, knowledge, and interest (probably the most imortant thing to know) -- and what it has seen and not seen. This is more than the difference between general public and academics. Ask the presenters, or people who have attended previous lectures in the series or at the same venue.

A few other ideas:

a) audiences like and seem increasingly to require visuals :angry2: -- whether videos or dancer-demonstrators, if you have access to them -- or at least slides of still photographs (easy to scan if you have large-format books of photographs)

b) the use of "compare and contrast" -- find out what they know (stories, images, etc.) about conventional ballet, and compare it with the way Balanchine handled the same material

c) consider Poer Point or handouts, especially if you get heaviliy into the various stages of Balanchine's careers (all those unfamiliar names) -- plan to discuss a vew ballets in detail -- etc. Even the most sophisticated audience can absorb only so many unfamiliar and foreign-sounding names, or grasp the nuances of chronology. You will have to leave a lot out if you rely only on the spoken word.

d) Leigh's suggestion of a tie-in with the Balanchine performances in Buenos Aires is an excellent one -- especially if it's the sort of audience that might potentially make the journey.

Edited by bart
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You want to keep them interested? Tell them about his wives and muses. Start with Tamara Geva, then Danilova, Zorina, Tallchief. LeClerq, and Farrell. You can structure the rest around that.....! And can you show slides? If you have a book, someone with a digital camera can make photo images of the pages for you.

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You want to keep them interested? Tell them about his wives and muses. Start with Tamara Geva, then Danilova, Zorina, Tallchief. LeClerq, and Farrell. You can structure the rest around that.....!

However, if you do this, you will have to take an oath not to turn your lecture into "Musagète" - or "Secret Muses". (Meaning - an artist is more than the sum of his loves). If you don't, we will have to come to Montevideo and heckle you. You don't want that.

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No, sure I don want all of you to heckle me!!!!! Though I would love to meet you somewhere in real life (be it in MOntevideo,or wherever). :D

silvy

You want to keep them interested? Tell them about his wives and muses. Start with Tamara Geva, then Danilova, Zorina, Tallchief. LeClerq, and Farrell. You can structure the rest around that.....!

However, if you do this, you will have to take an oath not to turn your lecture into "Musagète" - or "Secret Muses". (Meaning - an artist is more than the sum of his loves). If you don't, we will have to come to Montevideo and heckle you. You don't want that.

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