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Recording of Balanchine’s Swan Lake


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completely new to this so if my topic is not in the right place please feel free to tell me or move it! I have a completely newfound appreciation of the Balanchine repertory . I have been dying to see what Balanchine’s take on Swan Lake might have looked like! To the best of your knowledge is there a recording of his swan lake? 

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there's a thread about the School of American Ballet's 2014 workshop that included an excerpt from Balanchine's SWAN LAKE and which was filmed for Live From Lincoln Center on this site.

the thread from time is headed as follows:

School of American Ballet Workshop 2014

the telecast was sent out at the time to PBS stations but not subsequently released commercially, and in any case, as noted above, Balanchine's SWAN LAKE was given on this occasion only in an extended excerpt staged by Darci Kistler.

other than that, there is no film of the ballet otherwise available. 

see below:


Curtain Up: The School of American Ballet Workshop

Season 39 Episode 7 | 1h 24m 47s |Video has closed captioning.

Meet the ballet stars of tomorrow, rehearsing and performing in four of George Balanchine's most celebrated works. The program includes rare behind-the-scenes glimpses of the rehearsal process featuring some of SAB's illustrious faculty members, including Darci Kistler, Suki Schorer and Susan Pilarre.

Aired: 12/12/14

Expired: 12/12/17

Rating: TV-G

It's possible that with the current streaming offered from Lincoln Center at Home that this School of American Ballet program might be re-run, but nothing's been said to that end so far.

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There's also a small clip from Darci Kistler's workshop performance (when she was 15) partnered by Cornel Crabtree in the Six Ballerinas documentary.

There are notes and revisions in the Balanchine Catalogue entry for this version of Swan Lake that document his original approach and subsequent changes:


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9 hours ago, Helene said:

There's also a small clip from Darci Kistler's workshop performance (when she was 15) partnered by Cornel Crabtree in the Six Ballerinas documentary.

There are notes and revisions in the Balanchine Catalogue entry for this version of Swan Lake that document his original approach and subsequent changes:

One other Swan Lake page on the Balanchine site:


One thing I've never quite understood: those two television performances of Maria Tallchief and Eglevsky (1954), and Tallchief and Magallanes (1956) - are those Petipa/Ivanov steps 'enhanced' by Balanchine, or mainly Balanchine choreography?


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Helene's link, above, leads me to an error.  If you have this problem, try this one:


In the 70's, I was much taken with Balanchine's suite - well, I still am, for that matter, and I remember Farrell's staging of it as one of the best of many great experiences of watching TSFB (even with her restoration of the four cygnets in place of one of Balanchine's best dances to one of Tchaikovsky's best numbers), but I digress - not least because Verdy was leading it (alternating with Hayden).  I went repeatedly for about a week, jotting down what I could to help me to remember what I saw.  (I don't have the training to name steps, even, but noting the plan of the numbers and sometimes making stick figures to represent the dancing was good exercise for my concentration and memory.)

But one evening I visited next door to watch the Royal's version.  B. H. Haggin had recommended their stagings of the classics based on the Sergeyev notebooks, and I had not seen a "full length" Swan Lake before.  I remember being surprised to see in the "white" parts so much that was familiar from what I had been immersing myself in at the State Theater.  Just about every other sequence.  Between these were sequences which made less brilliant, less luminous, effect, which I gather Balanchine felt called for what pherank aptly calls "enhancement."  So his is a good question. 

Did Balanchine replace Ivanov wholesale?  I don't think so.  (Even a spectacular bit in Balanchine's "Sugar Plum" pas de deux - where she scampers up the diagonal toward her partner to leap into a half-turn in the air to sit on his shoulder is in a film of the Royal's version as well, IIRC, but when I see this, for example in Ballet Chicago's shows, only Balanchine gets credit.)   

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This clip from John Clifford's YouTube channel has the Pas de Neuf and Valse Bluette (LA Ballet):

Alexandra Danilova's Kennedy Center honor featuring Darci Kistler and Robert Lyon in the White Swan Pas de Deux.


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here's a list of stagings (acc'd to the Balanchine Catalogue) by companies other than NYCB:

1954   San Francisco Ballet

1958   Eglevsky Ballet Company

1960's   Geneva Ballet (Grand Theatre de Geneve [Ballet])

1961   Teatro alla Scala (Milan)

1965   Ballet of Los Angeles

1979   Los Angeles Ballet

1981   Eglevsky Ballet Company

1982   Kansas City Ballet

1994   Pennsylvania Ballet

1998   Pennsylvania Ballet

2008   Miami City Ballet

2013   Ballet Chicago

2014   Suzanne Farrell Ballet

2015   Miami City Ballet

2018   Ballet Chicago

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The 2013 Ballet Chicago staging rg lists above exists on a good video by them, unlisted on YouTube (no telling for how much longer):



  My profuse apologies for not having posted here earlier, when you could access it through the Ballet Chicago site at balletchicago.org and find an RSVP button that worked - i.e. that admitted you to a path to the video page.  On the other hand, we did talk about it on the 2021 streaming thread:  https://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/46027-2021-free-streaming-during-covid-19-crisis/ around page 4.

Another thing worth mentioning is that this version matches the numbers and their sequence in the notes I made in the mid-'70s, watching Balanchine's NYCB, which the TSFB version, beautiful though it is in other respects, did not, in respect of one number.  But I agree with all of those who say this needs to be seen more often, whether in agreement with Mr. B's later thoughts or - not quite. 

And perhaps finally, in the Zoom chat following this showing, Patricia Blair, who runs the school Ballet Chicago with her husband Dan Duell, revealed the trouble she went to, finding a New York costume shop to make the costumes according to Karinska's designs, at a moderate price.  The Ballet Chicago Studio Company typically performs in costumes made by "The Guild of the Golden Needle", believed to be a group of dancers' mothers; these costumes represent an unusual and substantial investment, in other words.  I think we have reason to believe we will see them worn again, folks.   

Edited by Jack Reed
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