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Balanchine's fondness for SPEED in performance


bart

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I loved this when I came across it in Jacques d'Amboise's memoirs, but didn't know where to put it. So, here goes. According to Carolyn George, NYCB dancer who is also d'Amboise's wife:

I was doing the semi-solo then, in the first movement of Bizet's Symphony in C. We were onstage in position when the curtain went up. We were supposed to move with the conductor's first downbeat, so all eyes were on the conductor's podium. We went into shock. There was Balanchine, dressed as Toscanini with a gray wig, high collar, and a jabot. When his baton flicked, we were off to the races. The tempo was so fast, I couldn't believe it. A five-minute movement sped b in less than three. We could barely keep up. I think the musicians had to skip notes to be able to play.

Any other memories? Or thoughts?

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Another thing that I can't forget is that with 'Theme and Variations' Balanchine made his debut as a conductor, and aside for the importance of it I will always remember it because the tempo he chose was madly fast. We all ended up breathless!"

Alicia Alonso on working with Balanchine in "Theme and Variations"

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