PNB’s Exploration of Balanchine

Balanchine once said, “I don’t have to explain why I change things. I can do with my ballets whatever I like....I made them and I can change them if I want to.”

In preview of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s upcoming performance at the Fall for Dance festival, the company’s dancers and artistic director Peter Boal presented a lecture demonstration on four Balanchine works as part of the Guggenheim museum’s Works & Process series. Boal explained how Balanchine often made changes to his choreographies—for film, for a new cast, or to accommodate dancers’ technical strengths. PNB dancers performed excerpts from Apollo, The Four Temperaments, Agon, and Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, while Boal gave a detailed analysis of the changes.

Below are some interesting facts I learned about Balanchine’s Apollo from this Works and Process:

-Balanchine was 24 years old when he choreographed Apollo for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.

-Terpsichore’s variation was cut after the piece premiered in 1928.

-Balanchine also changed the title several times, from Apollon Musagete, to Apolo Musageta, to Apollo Leader of the Muses, and finally to just Apollo.

-The scenery and costumes became more simplistic over the years to allow the dance to shine on its own terms (Coco Chanel was one of the costume designers).

-In 1978, Balanchine removed the staircase that represented Mount Parnassus and replaced it with the famous sunburst pose.

Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers will perform the pas de deux from Carousel (A Dance), choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, at New York City Center during Fall for Dance, October 4-6. PNB will also be at New York City Center in February 2013.


UPCOMING WORKS & PROCESS
New York City Ballet: Choreography by Justin Peck with Music by Sufjan Stevens. Watch the livestream of the Sept 23 performance at 7:30 pm EDT at ustream.tv/worksandprocess. I'll also be hosting a conversation about the performance on Twitter. Follow @emdanceballet @WorksandProcess and #WPlive.