I must admit that I am only up to the Russian/Parisian diaspora in Jennifer Homans’ Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet so I have not yet gotten to the George Balanchine part. That said, I knew that given the opportunity, I needed to see Apollo.
The ballet was created in 1928 by Balanchine for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes with music by Igor Stravinsky. Sebastien Marcovici played the part of Apollo, with the muses Terpischore (Sterling Hyltin), Polyhymnia (Tiler Peck), and Calliope (Ana Sophia Scheller) who dance for his attention. Although this ballet is from 1928 it still felt very relevant in its choreography with its abstract shapes depicting the planets circling the sun and emulating the triangular form familiar to Apollo.
Merce Cunningham meets Debbie Allen in Jerome Robbins’ Moves, 1959. Although my friends seem to disagree with me, I felt this piece was extremely dated (with an NYCB premiere of 1984) even though it was the most modern piece of the evening. With the A Chorus Line costumes, silence (meaning no music), askew spacing and somewhat chance choreography, the piece felt like the “uptown” version of post-modern dance. With the attention really focused on the “moves” I felt unmoved except for the part when the ballerina lies on her stomach and arches her back almost perpendicularly to the floor. Brava.
Balachine’s Symphony in C, 1947 with music by Georges Bizet and sparkles by Swarovski. Whoah. Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins calls it the most challenging ballet for the company and I couldn’t agree more. The speed, precision, athleticism, and volume of the piece is incredible. The innumerous turns, jumps, arabesques, and holds executed at a ridiculous pace is jaw-dropping. I sat in amazement as I watched the ballerinas – from the impeccable principals to the precise corps – keep up the pace in all their glittery splendor.
All in all, I had a lovely evening at the ballet and cannot wait till I finish Apollo’s Angels…