VAIL " As a child, Russian-born Georgi Melitonovitch Balanchivadze was not particularly interested in ballet. His mother, however, possessed a deep love for the art and had the young Georgi audition with his sister, who shared her mother's passion for ballet. Fortunately, Georgi, who Europeanized his name into George Balanchine after leaving Russia, found liked dance and followed his artistic calling, becoming one of the 20th century's foremost choreographers and definitive pioneers of ballet in the United States. Vail International Dance Festival patrons will experience the genius and artistry of Balanchine tonight as Pacific Northwest Ballet presents a trio of Balanchine masterpieces at the Vilar Performing Arts Center.
"Balanchine was a true genius, a unique voice in ballet, and more than that, in the history of the arts," said Damian Woetzel, Vail International Dance Festival Artistic Director. "He created ballets which will live forever, and the variety and depth of his gift is showcased by the range of works being presented this year in Vail by Pacific Northwest Ballet."
The evening's program will feature performances of "Concerto Barocco," with music by Johann Sebastian Bach; "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux," with music by Peter Tchaikovsky and "Agon," with music by Igor Stravinsky, with whom Balanchine collaborated extensively throughout his career.
"Concerto Barocco" was first performed by American Ballet Caravan on its historic visit to South America in 1941, a tour which was sponsored by the State Department in an effort to create goodwill abroad. After entering the repertory of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo in the mid-'40s, "Concerto Barocco" was one of three ballets on the program at New York City Ballet's inaugural performance on Oct. 11, 1948.
An eight-minute display of ballet bravura and technique, "Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux" uses music that the composer belatedly created for Act III of Swan Lake. Because the music was not in the original score, it was not published with the rest of Swan Lake, and disappeared for more than half a century. When it was discovered in the Bolshoi Theater archives in 1953, Balanchine was granted permission to use it for his own choreography.
"Agon" is the Greek word for contest, with the movements of the ballet named after French court dances. The score was commissioned from Stravinsky by New York City Ballet with funds from the Rockefeller Foundation. The composer dedicated it to Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, the American arts patron that persuaded Balanchine to move to the United States. Balanchine and Stravinsky designed the structure of the ballet together during the creation of the music, with the outline for the score specifying in detail, with exact timings, the basic movements for 12 dancers clad in simple black and white costumes. "Agon" is considered one of the greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century, and it is the third work of what is known as the Greek Trilogy of ballets by Balanchine and Stravinsky, the first two being Apollo and Orpheus.
Tickets for the Vail International Dance Festival's Balanchine Celebration '08 with Pacific Northwest Ballet are priced at $40 and $55 and may be purchased online at www.vaildance.org or by calling 970-845-TIXS (8497) or 888-920-ARTS (2787).
In addition to Balanchine Celebration '08, individual tickets for the 2008 Vail International Dance Festival are priced from $8 to $85, with ticket packages also available.
The 2008 Vail International Dance Festival runs from through Aug. 9, with performances at both the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail and the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek.
What: Balanchine Celebration '08 with Pacific Northwest Ballet
Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek
When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $40 and $55.
More information: Call 970-845-TIXS or visit www.vaildance.org.