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2007 Spring season Seminars and Studio Talks

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The company has announced the topics of the seminars and studio talks:

Seminars -

Monday, May 14 at 6 pm

Art and the Man

This panel discussion deals with Lincoln Kirstein the man:

his upbringing, education, and drive. Topics will include

how his singular dedication to ballet brought Balanchine

to America, the establishment of New York City Ballet, the

construction of the New York State Theater, and NYCB's

permanent residency at Lincoln Center.

Monday, May 21 at 6 pm

Kirstein's Influence on Art in America

This seminar assesses Lincoln Kirstein's contribution to

the arts in the U.S. Panelists will cover the influence that

his keen sense of style and taste had on the arts through

philanthropic efforts and his own artistic pursuits as a

writer, poet, administrator, and patron. We will explore

how his aesthetic forever influenced our standards of beauty

and definitions of classicism and modernity in art and life.


May 10 at 6:45 pm

Topic: Star-Crossed Collaborations: The Production of Romeo + Juliet

May 24 at 6:45 pm

Topic: Classical Icons

June 7 at 6:45 pm

Topic: Beyond the Barre

June 21 at 6:45 pm

Topic: Diamonds are Forever

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Here's an update on tonight's seminar (via nycballet.com):

Monday, May 14 at 6 pm

Lincoln Kirstein: The Man

Panel: Moderator: Anna Kisselgoff

Peter Martins, Randall Bourscheidt, Randal R. Craft, Jr., Violette Verdy

This panel discussion deals with Lincoln Kirstein the man:

his upbringing, education, and drive. Topics will include

how his singular dedication to ballet brought Balanchine

to America, the establishment of New York City Ballet, the

construction of the New York State Theater, and NYCB's

permanent residency at Lincoln Center.


It's a shame about the date, as it falls on the same night (and only 30 minutes earlier) than ABT's Opening Night. The podcast should become available on nycballet.com.

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Last night's seminar, "Lincoln Kirstein: The Man," had its interesting elements. The most interesting was that the panel ranged beyond "the usual suspects" to include Randal R. Craft, Jr., who, with Kirstein, incorporated NYCB in 1997, and Randall Bourscheidt, a long-time advocate for the arts and former deputy commissioner of NYC cultural affairs. He is currently editing a book of Kirstein's program notes, and was responsible for one of the evening's poignant moments when he recalled his suggestion, following Balanchine's death, to hang a reproduction of Orpheus's lyre by Noguchi high above the NY State Theater Promenade illuminated by a small spotlight. Kirstein's reaction was to burst into tears. The memory of the 6'4" Lincoln sobbing, obviously still moves Mr. Bourscheidt. But for whatever reason, the plan was not implemented.

Both Craft and Bourscheidt mentioned Kirstein's habit of disappearing at dinner parties, including his own. Panelist Peter Martins said he never really got to know Lincoln till after Mr. B's death, after which they'd share vodka and stories before every performance. Panelist Violette Verdy was her usual ageless, charming self, recalling how she stopped being afraid of Lincoln and realized how kind and gentle he was. Moderator Anna Kisselgoff talked about Kirstein's love-hate relationship with Martha Graham. She needs to improve her skills as a moderator beyond asking if anyone has anything else to say. No one at any point mentioned Martin Duberman's recent biography. The evening ended with some charming footage of Lincoln's eightieth birthday party.

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I really enjoyed the panel, and their revelations about Kirstein's many projects, accomplishments and characteristics. Here are a few, at random:

He published Dance Index and "ran" City Center (Anna Kisselgoff),

He had "amazing" writing skills (Bourscheidt) (after which Kisselgoff described his writing as "impenetrable"),

"His generosity, knowledge, and disarming fragility were formidable" (Verdy)

His house in Conn. was near Tanny LeClerq's, and he would buy the Sunday Times and deliver it to her because she loved crossword puzzles (Bourscheidt -- for whom he also occasionally served as "paperboy!")

Kirstein "hovered" and "disappeared" so that Balanchine could have control, Balanchine said that he and LK were not friends but both always knew what was right for the company. (Verdy)

He "never sought his own agrandisement." (Bob Craft)

He was "the great facilitator," and was the force behind the building of the New York State Theater, by bringing the right people together. (Bourscheidt)

When he and Balanchine split so that GB could work on B'way and Hollywood, Kirstein's little company (I forgot which one) was invited to stay at Bennington College, then a hotbed of modern dance (and probably "hot beds"), Kirstein and Martha Graham stayed in the same house, and he proposed to her!! Despite their long, public antipathy after that, Graham and Kirstein had an affection for each other, and Anna Kisselgoff was an informal intermediary. (Kisselgoff)

Both Balanchine and Kirstein saw their work as "service." (Verdy)

In his will, Balanchine left "Concerto Barocco" and "Orpheus" to Kirstein, who in turn, willed them to new York City Ballet. (Kisselgoff)

Bourscheidt is finishing work on a complilation of Kirstein's program notes, from the beginning of his work with Balanchine. He never talked about what "the choreographer meant," but rather put things in a cultural context.

He told Violette Verday that "Giselle is the grandmother, Swan Lake is the mother, and Serenade is the daughter.

He was a brilliant strategist, even in his occasional outbursts. He thought everything out in advance and fought for Balanchine. "He could have been a general." (Kisselgoff)

"He loved film," (Craft)

"He loved James Cagney." (Kisselgoff)

"He hated abstract art." (Bourscheidt)

A final remark was a quote from Shana Alexander: "Lincoln Kirstein stole George Balanchine from Europe the way Promethus stole fire from the Gods."

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Many thanks for your reports Farrell Fan :clapping: and ViolinConcerto :flowers:

Thank you from me too.


The next Studio Talk participants have been announced:

May 24 at 6:45 pm

Topic: Classical Icons

Guests: Yvonne Borree, Sean Suozzi & Kaitlyn Gilliland

Discussion about dancing historically important NYCB classics, Apollo, Orpheus, Agon, and the dancers' approach to "classics" in general.

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The talk on May 21 was very different from the previous one, and equally interesting.

The moderator, Stephen Watson, seems to himself be a Renaissance Man, as he is a Cultural Historian and a psychologist. He organized the presentation very well, and the topics flowed very smoothly from person to person. He introduced each person carefully and told how they figured in Kirstein's life. Jamie Wyeth (the painter) was the only one there who was a close, personal friend, although Nancy Lassalle knew LK (and Mr. B) much longer.

Watson talked abut the various contributors to Hound and Horn (a beautifully designed magazine.....a Sophomore did THAT??) and exhibitors at the Soc. for Contemorary Art. He quoted Chick Austin (later the head of the Hartford Atheneum, which was supposed to be the first home for SAB and Serenade) as saying that the reason those two efforts succeeded as they did was that they had "Lincoln's brains, John (Walker)'s social connections and Eddie (Warburg)'s money.

Lincoln also had the luck/priviledge/ of having Muriel Draper as his principal "Cultural Guide." She (a society lady, eccentric with deep cultural knowledge) is the person who told LK that his greatest talents were in "Catalyzing and organizing, and that one day I would have power" in his words.

For me the most vivid part of the program, and the part offering the greatest insight, was a "tour" of Lincoln's house, by photographer Jerry Thompson, who LK hired to document his artworks, so that he (LK) could use those photos as a statement of his aesthetic beliefs. It seems to be a small house, very unprepossessing, but imaginatively and tastefully decorated, littered with priceless and fascinating artworks, including many portraits of LK's friends.

I'll try to post. more about the evening in the next few days.

They all recommended the Duberman book.

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The photos of LK's home and art works by Jerry Thompson became "Quarry," a tour of LK's home and aesthetic.

The house was filled -- FILLED, FILLED, FILLED with books, floor to ceiling. They were organized by subject, and the subjects were as diverse as Lincoln's far-ranging curiosities and interests from Arabic texts to Zoology.

(Which reminds me that Steven Watson quoted a teacher of LK's - when he was a child - as saying that little LK had "too much curiosity!")

Clive Barnes remembered that, while still living in England, he got a postcard from LK (with very raunchy language) saying basically, "When are you going to take the job at the NY Times?" This was the first that Barnes heard that he was being considered for the Times. He still believes that LK (who knew everyone, everywhere) had a lot to do with his being hired. This was very typical of LK's way of working in the background. In the years that followed, CB realized that LK resented the fact that his (CB's) reviews, while praising NYCB to the skies, did not criticize every other company. After that, while they had a rather "odd" relationship, because LK felt that CB wasn't appreciative enough of the Company. Despite that, LK was always sending CB books and books.

CB feels that one of LK's greatest talents was his ability to work with and influence institutions. He also thinks that LK, who created many "librettos" for American Ballet and Ballet Caravan, did have some influence on Balanchine's work, for example, "Union Jack."

I felt short-changed was that Nancy Lasalle was not given more time. She worked intimately with both LK and GB for many, many years and I'm sure has more stories than Scherezade about them!

Right now Ms. Lasalle has finished work on the very exhaustive Bibliography, which catalogues the many sources used by LK for his writings. These writings reflect his many passions: "There was not a thing in the world that he didn't write about. Not an artist that he liked that he didn't want shown." When he was enthused about something, or saw someone else with an enthusiasm, he would PILE books on that person (or himself).

Ms. Lasalle noted that "both men (LK and GB) cherished the dancers and everything related to the Company, and both had a total commitment to classical ballet." She also described LK's deep sense of America, and all its aspects. He commissioned a ballet called "Tom," (about Tom Sawyer), and had sets designed by Ben Shahn -- but it never got off the ground.

That's as much as I can put down on (not) paper.....they ended with a clip of the public opening of the NYState Theater: Balanchine, Kirstein, Philip Johnson, Jaqcues d'Amboise all yabbering excitedly away. What a night, what a night!

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