Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

George Balanchine — Fred Astaire’s Influence ?

Recommended Posts

In addition to George Balanchine, I would also include Fred Astaire’s possible influence on Jerome Robbins. (Thanks to OnePigeon at BalletcoForum for suggesting all this). Does anyone have a work or characteristic in mind ?  I think of  the remarkably charming Der Rosenkavalier from George Balanchine’s Vienna Waltzes as something worth considering.   

Link to comment

Mention was made elsewhere of George Balanchine’s “Who Cares?” as one example. I wrote this response and would like to post it again to highlight what a genius, I feel more than ever, that George Balanchine was.

"I think that if there’s any doubt that George Balanchine was a genius, “Who Cares?” alone would prove that he was. In one performance, Sean Lavery, the male performer in all the duets, has a remarkable resemblance to Fred Astaire in his dancing. The three women, as is usual I guess with George Balanchine, have the most prominent presentations. They could be seen as a highly crafted combination of Ginger Rogers, Cyd Charisse and perhaps others. Sean Lavery, as Fred Astaire, is dressed in black, which fades him into the background, and lets the women dominate. Yet, regarding him carefully,  in an almost concealed but  brilliant manner, he has all the presence, charism, appearance and dominating qualities of Fred Astaire. The interaction of Sean Lavery-Fred Astaire and the three women is Remarkable !"


Edited by Buddy
Link to comment

“Who Cares?”  ( I Do  😊 )

I’d like to clarify somewhat the things that I wrote so enthusiastically about “Who Cares?” and George Balanchine & Sean Lavery in particular. What I was glued to at the time was the brilliant, opening duet to “The Man I Love" danced by Sean Lavery and Patricia McBride. All my enthusiasm remains the same and descriptively unchanged for this particular six minutes, Not having watched the group dancing completely and the duets-solos several times, this segment could be the key one, but I’m not familiar enough with the entirety to be certain. This duet, for me, remains the center of all that I wrote. I think that this six minutes is absolutely brilliant, perhaps genius, for the reasons that I suggested. The entire work seems exceptional as well, but for different reasons.

What once again makes it so special is the way that Sean Lavery ‘becomes’ Fred Astaire. In his other duets and solo, there is excellence, but the Astaire characterisation is much less evident. It might be that George Balanchine wanted to make this the unmistakeable opening statement (and tribute) and then move on.

The Patricia McBride dancer is much harder to pin down. She’s an idealised Hollywood goddess, who contrasts beautifully with Sean Lavery’s Fred Astaire, and I do see some charming elements of Ginger Rogers trying to emerge from this perfection, but overall she’s a Balanchine dance goddess.

I do feel that this “The Man I Love" duet is going to be another of my ballet favorites and does highlight the genius of George Balanchine. I also have to say that Sean Lavery’s interpretation is brilliant.     


Link to comment

I’ve been watching parts of George Balanchine’s “Who Cares?”, mainly focussing on the Sean Lavery-Patricia McBride duet, which has the strongest literal resemblance to Fred Astaire. I’ve now watched the entire work and I think that it’s Brilliant (probably Genius) and Delightful !  ‘High Art’ meets Entertainment at its best.

 To the extent that Fred Astaire influenced the entire Broadway-Hollywood world of musicals, his influence on George Balanchine is probably present throughout. As for a literal Astaire resemblance, this can be seen most in the Sean Lavery-Patricia McBride duet, the opening duet, in the presence of Sean Lavery. From then on elements of Fred Astaire’s dance style remain very noticeable in Sean Lavery’s performance, but tend to build into a brilliant George Balanchine representation of the entire Broadway-Hollywood musical scene. By the way, facially in the duet, Patricia McBride reminds me most of Judy Garland.

 Once again, from another topic….


 Swan Lake Meets Fred Astaire   😊


Link to comment

An interesting thing to add to the equation is Fred Astaire as the choreographer and from my constant viewing of “Let’s Face The Music and Dance” a darn good one.

“The Astaire-Pan collaboration, involving 17 of Astaire's 31 musical films and three of his four television specials, is widely accepted as one of the most important forces in dance choreography of 20th-century film and television musicals. Astaire called [Hermes Pan] his "idea man," and while he generally choreographed his own routines, he greatly valued the assistance of Pan not just as a critic, but also as a rehearsal partner for the purposes of fine-tuning a routine.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermes_Pan#:~:text=Hermes Pan (born Hermes Joseph,starring Astaire and Ginger Rogers.



Link to comment


Would George Balanchine’s Absolutely Magnificent and Delightful “Der Rosenkavalier” from “Vienna Waltzes” look anything like it does if he hadn’t seen Fred Astaire and a lot of Hollywood/Broadway Musicals ? Not that it necessarily matters because it’s a stand alone Masterpiece that he would have made brilliant anyway.

But, no, I don’t think that it would have. The Fred Astaire timing, change of styles, posturing, rhythms, extended arms….

Does Suzanne Farrell even resemble Fred Astaire at times until she morphs into Ginger Rogers for some of the earlier partnered back bent swoons…?

Even a tribute to Fred Astaire ?  Will we ever know ?

To be continued probably….


Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...