News: New York City Ballet

Wednesday 20 February 2008

London hasn’t seen the full company for 25 years – and they’re coming to the Coliseum this month – opening on 12 March.

Since Balanchine died in 1983 there have been a lot of changes. These days it’s a much younger company. Wendy Whelan, a dancer with the company since the 1980s thinks that’s fitting:

“Balanchine loved young energy. Robbins loved it, Martins loves it. It feeds the choreography. I think that’s what London will see. A young company with a real intensity and confidence about what they are doing.”

Read more in Judith Mackrell’s article in the Guardian, 20 Feb 08

Peter Martins, Director of the New York City Ballet discusses the differences in the way other ballet companies dance Balanchine’s works compared to NYCB.
“I would argue that we are special because we dance his ballets very differently. This is not an indictment of other companies, but the first thing that strikes me about their Balanchine is the tempo. They dance them more slowly than we do, especially the Europeans. It’s too slow, and Balanchine would think that too. The way City Ballet dances Balanchine is closer to the way he wanted.”
However, most of the current company did not learn directly from George Balanchine as they were not even born when he died in 1983. Therefore there is a distinct change in the company from the one that visited London 25 years ago as Martins explains,
“It’s called evolution. I will say in all earnestness that Balanchine would not believe how good they are today. The whole standard of this company has risen so rapidly that it’s unbelievable. Some will argue that it’s not all about technique; where is the soul, they will ask? But today’s dancers are more proficient and more musical; they are better.”
Read the full article, Debra Craine, Times, 25 Feb.08

Veteran dance critic John Percival reminisces about the thrill of seeing New York City Ballet for the first time in London in 1950. “The curtain went up on those lines of long-legged girls and we watched them gather into fresh groupings as Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings led them into some of the most exhilarating ensembles ever made for a large corps de ballet.” Read more in the Telegraph, 12 Mar 08

New York City Ballet at the London Coliseum, 12 – 22 Mar 08. Details/online booking

The company are keeping a video diary of their time in London: view here

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