Monthly Archives: June 2006

a ballet primer


I love these pictures. the one on the left is of maria kowroski, of the new york city ballet. the one on the right is of kaitlyn gilliland, who is creating a huge buzz with her long extensions and height (she’s 5′ 9″, super tall for a ballerina) when she was a student at the SAB. even tho kaitlyn is an amazing dancer, you can definitely see the difference in extension between the two. maria’s extensions are longer with a beautiful uplifting line – her arms and her face is uplifted, and her neck continues the line of the arm in front of her, giving more of a yearning quality that’s hopeful as well (in my words ) . i think more than the poses tho, maria kowroski shows more commitment to the movement in that moment, with more emotional maturity. Gorgeous.

did you see the guy behind the girl? i almost missed him in the picture~ these pictures were taken at the exact same moment in one of my favorite ballets of all time, serenade, by balanchine, because the dance melds into one with the music. i first ran across this ballet in my dance history class, and i thought the story behind it was just as charming. read below: he choreographed this for a beginning adult class.

“Of the ballet Balanchine wrote, “Serenade was my first ballet in the United States. Soon after my arrival in America, Lincoln Kirstein, Edward M. M. Warburg, and I opened the School of American Ballet in New York. As part of the school curriculum, I started an evening ballet class in stage technique, to give the students some idea of how dancing on stage differs from classwork. Serenade evolved from the lessons I gave.

“It seemed to me that the best way to make students aware of stage technique was to give them something new to dance, something they had never seen before. I chose Tchaikovsky’s Serenade to work with. The class contained the first night, seventeen girls and no boys. The problem was, how to arrange this odd number of girls so that they would look interesting. I placed them on diagonal lines and decided that the hands should move first to give the girls practice.

“That was how Serenade began. The next class contained only nine girls; the third six. I choreographed to the music with the pupils I happened to have at a particular time. Boys began to attend the class and they were worked into the pattern. One day, when all the girls rushed off the floor area we were using as a stage, one of the girls fell and began to cry. I told the pianist to keep on playing and kept this bit in the dance. Another day, one of the girls was late for class, so I left that in too.

“Later, when we staged Serenade, everything was revised. The girls who couldn’t dance well were left out of the more difficult parts; I elaborated on the small accidental bits I had included in class and made the whole more dramatic, more theatrical, synchronizing it to the music with additional movement, but always using little things that ordinarily might be overlooked.

“I’ve gone into a little detail here about Serenade because many people think there is a concealed story in the ballet. There is not. There are, simply, dancers in motion to a beautiful piece of music. The only story, a serenade, a dance, if you like, in the light of the moon.”

Ruthanna Boris, an original member of the cast of Serenade, in the book I Remember Balanchine relates that “when Heidi Vosseler fell down in that first rehearsal Mr. Balanchine said ‘Stay.’ Then he put Kathryn Mullowny behind Charles Laskey, who was near sighted, to guide him to the fallen Heidi, with her hand over his eyes. ‘He can’t see anyway’ Balanchine said. From these beginnings the adagio grew. The well known moment where the man promenades the soloist lady in arabesque by holding just her knee was used for the first time by Balanchine in La Pastorale (1926) for Diaghilev’s company. Mr. Balanchine has said that he was most inventive in his youth and borrowed freely from his earlier inspirations.””

article here