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imaginative inventive- and more on account of their sense of decom-
DVD ness, the choreogra- position than of composition, the last piece
pher constructs high- on the programme (which is also the better-
speed combinations, known one by European audiences today)
Balanchine “à la with bedazzling brings us the architectural solidity of Balanchine
française” whimsicalities for
the protagonist and
at the pinnacle of his classicism: Symphony
in C, created in 1947 at the Paris Opéra and
Chor. George Balanchine: Walpurgisnacht ensembles for the fe- also known over here by its original title Le
Ballet – mus. Charles Gounod; Sonatine; La male corps de ballet Palais de Cristal. The spectacular and poetic
Valse – mus. Maurice Ravel; Symphony in C that are the transfigu- qualities of this “ballet concertant”, to Georges
– mus. Georges Bizet – New York City Ballet ration (never the ac- Bizet’s Symphony in C Major, are not so much
– DVD BelAir Classiques tual reproduction) of due to the inventiveness or combination of
BelAir Classiques has released a DVD of a a Witches’ Sabbath. steps but, rather, to the relationship between
performance by the New York City Ballet last Sara Mearns, in the the various elements and composition seg-
year at the Théâtre du Châtelet as part of the lead role, demonstrates a mastery of phras- ments and to the savvy use of repetition. This
Parisian festival Les Étés de la Danse. The ing (in extremely difficult passages) which is is the highly sophisticated simplicity of
aim of the programme was to highlight George an exclusive prerogative of ballerinas from Balanchine’s genius. Of particular note is the
Balanchine’s penchant for French culture, with Balanchine’s stables. presence in the cast of Tiler Peck, today one
four of his ballets to music by French com- The central part of the programme is to of NYCB’s best ballerinas.
posers. music by Ravel. Sonatine, created in 1975 As for the video direction, the careful and
The DVD opens with Walpurgisnacht Bal- for Violette Verdy and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, clear filming allows one to enjoy the show as
let. In 1975 Balanchine had created the dances tempers Balanchine’s classicism into the if one were watching it from the stalls.
– specifically for the scene entitled “Walpurgis mistiness of impressionism, into the aesthetics Cristiano Merlo
Night”, when the souls of the dead roam freely of haziness and the unfinished, into the po-
on the eve of Mayday – for a production of etics of sketchiness. Here Megan Fairchild Video
Charles Gounod’s opera Faust at the Paris dances with Joaquín De Luz, one NYCB’s
Opéra. The dances were subsequently detached current male stars and whose velvety qual-
from the opera for New York City Ballet in ity of movement seems particularly suited Curing Albrecht reveals a hitherto-unknown
1980 and a ballet in its own right came into to this piece. It is followed by La Valse fun side of English National Ballet. The di-
being. (1951), with its choreography made up of rectors/choreographers Morgann Runacre-Tem-
What surprises about these dances is the apparitions, disappearances, fade-outs and ple and Jessica Wright made this short imag-
way in which, albeit without having recourse trails (thanks to the purplish tulle of the ining that it is Albrecht who goes mad, rather
to the eerie or the supernatural, but but solely skirts designed by Karinska), in which the than Giselle. It is he who cannot stop danc-
through the creativity of his choreographic art, fervour of gaiety – on the edge of the preci- ing and has to enter a psychiatric institution
Balanchine manages to suggest in the minds pice – borders with intimations of imminent to be cured. This hilarious, wacky video was
of spectators all the trimmings of “frenzied death… shot at the spectacular Edwardian (1907) Vic-
Romanticism” that are at the ballet’s origin. While the choreographies described above toria Baths in Manchester. Available on
Aided by the vivid effects of the “colours” fascinate us thanks to their suggestions, au- Youtube under “Curing Albrecht”.
in the music, and using his unconventional and ras and – we might even hazard – “fragrances”, E.G.V.

New York City Ballet: “Walpurgisnacht Ballet”, c. George Balanchine (ph. P. Kolnik)