- Thursday, June 2, 2011
New York City Ballet Performs George Balanchine's "Jewels," Piece Featured on Nonesuch "Dance in America" DVD
The New York City Ballet begins a six-show run of George Balanchine's Jewels, featuring music by Fauré, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky, at Lincoln Center tonight. Two selections from Jewels—"Emeralds" and "Diamonds"—are included in the Nonesuch DVD of the New York City Ballet's 1977 performance from the acclaimed PBS series Dance in America. The Los Angeles Times says the works became "instant classics" when filmed for the series.
About George Balanchine
George Balanchine is regarded as the foremost choreographer of ballet in the 20th century. Among his numerous accomplishments, he helped found the New York City Ballet in 1948 and was its principal choreographer until his death in 1983. Balanchine was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1904 and studied at the Imperial Ballet School, as well as the Petrograd Conservatory of Music, where he studied piano and composition. In the midst of his studies, the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia and, as part of their push to shift the culture, temporarily banned ballet entirely. This atmosphere of disdain for dance encouraged Balanchine to defect from the Soviet Union in 1924.
Balanchine then spent several years working in Western Europe, most notably with the famed Ballet Russes, which also employed composer Igor Stravinsky, with whom Balanchine would often collaborate later in life. Eventually, the American arts patron Lincoln Kirstein brought Balanchine to America and together they founded the New York City Ballet and the American School of Ballet, where the Balanchine method is still taught.
In the 1970s, PBS aired a series of performances by the New York City Ballet titled Dance in America, which were then released on videotape by Nonesuch Records, with selections later digitally re-mastered for DVD release. Also on Nonesuch are two soundtracks to his ballets performed by the New York City Ballet Orchestra: one, A Balanchine Album, a collection of four works—Serenade, The Four Temperaments, Agon, and Emeralds—featuring the music of Tchaikovsky, Hindemith, Stravinsky, and Fauré; the other with music from the original soundtrack to The Nutcracker.
Among the numerous awards that were bestowed on the choreographer are the French Légion d'Honneur, the Kennedy Center Honors, the Knighthood of the Order of Dannebrog, the National Society of Arts and Letters Gold Medal Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
George Balanchine died in New York City in 1983 at the age of 79.
Chaconne / Prodigal Son / Ballo della Regina / The Steadfast Tin Soldier / Elégie / Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux (DVD)June 8, 2004
Chaconne, Prodigal Son, Ballo della Regina, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Elégie, and the Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux—these Balanchine "masterpieces" (New York Times) became "instant classics," wrote the Los Angeles Times, when filmed for the acclaimed PBS series Dance in America, "treasurable—offering an enlightened approach to adapting theatrical dance for television.”