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Question: Western Symphony

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I saw "Western Symphony" performed by Japanese ballet company Star Dancers Ballet last weekend. It had all of four movement. I enjoyed the cheerful 3rd movement and I wondered why NYCB now doesn't perform it (it was omitted when I saw "Western Symphony" at the New York State Theater in 1999.)

When, why, and by whom was it omitted? By Balanchine? I want to know ...

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Accordingly to "Choreography by George Balanchine" the Scherzo was eliminated around 1960. It was restored for a few performances of the Balanchine Festival in 1993 and then dropped again.

I assume Balanchine made the cut himself, there's no real hint in anything I've read as to why, but John Martin of the NY Times in a contemporary review mentioned the Scherzo as the least rewarding part. I assume it was cut because Balanchine felt it made the ballet too long, which also seems odd, as it's the shortest movement and its absence really throws the finale off (forcing the addition of "run-on" principals to dance the finale)

There's a wonderful tape of the ballet shot in the 50's in Paris with Diana Adams and Herbert Bliss, Melissa Hayden and Nicholas Magellanes, Allegra Kent and Robert Barnett, and Tanaquil LeClercq and Jacques D'Amboise that really opened by eyes even more about Allegra Kent. For all her perfume and quirky mystery, she was a jumper and a real allegro dancer. I gather that's also part of Kirkland's mystique.


Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com

Personal Page and Dance Writing

Dance as Ever

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I can't remember the year, but it was in the late 80's I think, the 3rd movement was put back briefly, but I am sure it was before the Balanchine Festival. It was danced by Damian Woetzel and Nicol Hlinka and was lovely, lots of jumping and oddles of charm. I really cannot think why it was dropped again, certainly NYCB has lots of dancers who could do it very well.

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Thanks for all of your reply.

The Scherzo is the hardest part of all for a leading ballerina as well as four ensemble girls because they have to jump and jump and jump through the movement. I'm sure it seems more confusing than other movements, but still it's pity Balanchine cut it off. It's worth to see if danced well.

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