NEW YORK CITY | The preservation of the legacy of George Balanchine continues this year with Kay Mazzo and Peter Martins, former principal dancers with New York City ballet, videotaping how the late dance master coached them into their roles.
Mazzo and Martins have coached their roles in “Duo Concertant” and “Stravinsky Violin Concerto” for the cameras of the George Balanchine Foundation’s Interpreters Archive. Martins is now Ballet Master in Chief of New York City Ballet, and he and Mazzo are Co-Chairmen of the Faculty at the company’s official academy, School of American Ballet.
The aim of the Interpreters Archive video series is to document the viewpoints of leading dancers on whom Balanchine choreographed his ballets or with whom he worked closely, capturing his intentions at the time of creation through coaching sessions with dancers of today.
Taping sessions were held in New York City Ballet studios in the Rose Building, Lincoln Center, New York.
Martins and Mazzo coached the complete “Duo Concertant” with NYCB principal dancers Sterling Hyltin and Robert Fairchild. They later coached Aria II of “Stravinsky Violin Concerto” with the same dancers, who were then joined by principal dancers Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar for the coaching of excerpts from the ballet’s Toccata and Capriccio sections. Nancy McDill, solo pianist with NYCB Orchestra, played for the sessions. Charles M. Joseph, noted Stravinsky author, conducted an interview with the two coaches. The taping was supervised by Nancy Reynolds, the foundation’s director of research, assisted by Nichol Hlinka, a former NYCB principal dancer, who is the associate director of the foundation’s video archives program, and former film professor Virginia Brooks.
“Duo Concertant” and “StravinskyViolin Concerto” are considered two of the gems premiered during the renowned NYCB Stravinsky Festival of June 1972. Each displays a partnership between music and dance that is unusually close, even within the Balanchine canon. And while each has its own movement vocabulary, taken together many of the choreographic ideas are unique to these two ballets. Both coaches have described the exactitude with which Balanchine choreographed the compositions. Perhaps not so coincidentally, they were written in the same year (1931); there are particularly acute musical echoes of the Dithyrambe (final) section of Duo Concertant in Violin Concerto’s Aria II.
The George Balanchine Foundation (www.balanchine.org) is a not for profit corporation established in 1983. Its mission is to create programs that educate the public and further Balanchine’s work and aesthetic with the goal of advancing high standards of excellence in dance and its allied arts. Visit the the Video Archives at http://www.balanchine.org/balanchine/03/gbfvideoarchives.html.
In 2007 the foundation announced the completion of another major initiative, the online publication of the Balanchine Catalogue, a fully searchable database giving first-performance details of all known dances created by Balanchine, supplemented by lists of companies staging the ballets, a bibliography, a videography, reference resources, a database of roles Balanchine performed, and additional related material. Visit that catalogy at http://www.balanchine.org/balanchine/03/balanchinecataloguenew.html.
The project was made possible by a leadership grant from The Jerome Robbins Foundation.
Earlier projects include Popular Balanchine, comprising forty-two boxes of material pertaining to Balanchine’s commercial work, housed at the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library; and Music Dances: Balanchine Choreographs Stravinsky, a video by Professor Stephanie Jordan of Roehampton University, London.
- How George Balanchine Created New York City Ballet (theatlantic.com)
- New York City Ballet (NYCB): G. Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (optimysticlivingevents.wordpress.com)
- Review: 60 Minutes on New York City Ballet (timesunion.com)
- A World of Pain and Magic (peterhshelton.wordpress.com)
- An Unforgettable Night at the Ballet (oceandrive.com)
- The genius of Balanchine: A visual breakdown (cbsnews.com)