Balanchine: The Dance Event of the Season
Photo: George Balanchine’s “Serenade”. Credit: Ctibor Bachraty.
Brno, May 4, 2023 (BD) – Such is the skill and dedication of the Brno National Theatre Ballet company (NdB Ballet) that they have gained the right to perform the sacred choreography of George Balanchine.
On Friday at Janáček Theatre, NdB Ballet will premier four works choreographed by Balanchine: Serenade, Episodes, Concerto Barocco, and a Tchaikovsky Pas de deux.
It is the dance event of the season.
Balanchine is a choreographic phenomenon who is known around the world. Born and raised in the classical ballet of Russia, he moved to the United States and founded the School of American Ballet in 1934 and the New York City Ballet in 1948. His neoclassical style of choreography is not available to every company. The right to perform his dances must be earned.
Nanette Glushak and Diana White, who both danced for many years under Balanchine with the New York City Ballet, have spent weeks on end in Brno to supervise the correct adherence to the demanding choreography as representatives of The George Balanchine Trust.
“It is a foundation to keep producing his ballets,” Glushak said. “I think his is the only choreography that is that good. We try to keep everything the way we remember it.”
It is an honour for the Brno dancers to bring Balanchine to life. It is a unique ballet event in Central Europe.
“Episodes”. Credit: Ctibor Bachraty.
“The level of ballet here is very high,” Glushak said. “You have to be a good company” to get the right to perform Balanchine’s pieces.
Added White, “You need a very strong classical base, but the ability to take it a step further. It is demanding. You need speed, attack, musicality.”
Only one dancer with the Brno company was part of the performance of Serenade in 2015, the last time a work by Balanchine was performed here. The rest of the company will perform the master’s works for the first time.
Balanchine was influenced by, and, in return, influenced, Broadway musicals, Hollywood movies, circuses, and the whole gamut of entertainment. He worked with world-renowned creatives like Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky, and Maurice Ravel, and world-famous painters like Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse for set design.
“In general he liked it more simple,” White said. “He saw the bodies as the end in itself. The music, the stage, they were all in service to the dance.”
Additional performances will be this Saturday and Sunday, and again on 13 and 14 May. Then, in the winter, there will be additional performances on January 14, 25, 26, and 27, and February 8 and 9.
So, what should an audience member expect when they go to watch a performance of Balanchine choreography as performed by NdB Ballet?
“Expect to be transported,” White said.
Make your plans to see Verdi’s famous Othello at Janáček Theatre on May 24.
The four-act opera, based on William Shakespeare’s play “Othello, the Moor of Venice”, is considered one of the masterpieces of Verdi’s oeuvre.
The theme explores differences and prejudices within society that revolve around Othello, his wife Desdemona and the treacherous Iago. The work premiered in Milan in 1887.
This local version is directed by Martin Glaser and scored by Robert Kružík.
Similarly, Falstaff, another opera inspired by Shakespeare, will have performances on May 12 and June 2.
The Brno National Theatre (NdB) presents opera, ballet, and theatrical performances. Click here for the full schedule and more information.