George Balanchine (1904- 1983), the father of American Ballet, was an American ballet choreographer who founded the prestigious School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet. His collaboration with many leading composers, like Igor Stravinsky, allowed him to express music through dance. By working with some of the best musical talent in the world at the time, a new style of musicality and movement was born known as the “neoclassical style”. Balanchine pushed the boundaries with music and movement and was wildly successful. He is regarded as one of the best choreographers of our time.
To learn and to study Balanchine works as a dancer is a rare, yet incredible opportunity. His choreography is quick and dynamic, continually flowing in and out of different formations. As opposed to classical ballets like Swan Lake or Giselle, it does not matter whether you are in the corps of the ballet or the principal ballerina; everyone gets to dance… a lot. That is what makes Balanchine’s work so special.
The Pennsylvania Ballet is a “sister company” of the New York City Ballet. Barbara Weisberger, a protégée of George Balanchine, founded the company in 1963. The reasoning for creating this new company was to expand the Balanchine repertoire. Philadelphia was a great place to begin.
As I had mentioned earlier, studying Balanchine’s work is a rare opportunity. This is because of the George Balanchine Trust, a foundation that “preserves the artistic integrity of the works by providing Balanchine-trained repetiteurs to stage his ballets for qualified companies and by requiring periodic reviews of the productions,” (www.balanchine.org).
As a student of the Pennsylvania Ballet, I am able to welcome that opportunity and learn many Balanchine ballets. In this past 2015/2016 season alone, my class had learned six different Balanchine ballets.
2. Valse Fantaisie
3. Divertimento No. 15
4. Symphony in C
5. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
6. Raymonda Variations
I have been studying classical ballet for sixteen years, but this past season has my first experience with George Balanchine’s choreography.
I have improved tremendously since I have been studying at the School of Pennsylvania Ballet. My hope is to continue to grow as a dancer and become even more well-rounded in different choreography, including many more Balanchine works.
SAVE THE DATE! Saturday, May 21st, 2016 at the Annenberg Center, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet will be performing Raymonda Variations! Check out their website for more details. So excited!