Legendary choreographer George Balanchine at center | VailDaily.com

Legendary choreographer George Balanchine at center

Daily Staff Report
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

VAIL ” The 20th century’s foremost choreographer will be center stage Monday, July 30, as Pacific Northwest Ballet presents “Balanchine Celebration,” a trio of works by the legendary George Balanchine, at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek. The 7:30 p.m. performance will be the group’s second offering in conjunction with the 2007 Vail International Dance Festival.

Balanchine is considered the founder of American ballet, his company Ballet Society, would evolve into the New York City Ballet in 1948 and his 1954 staging of The Nutcracker is largely responsible for making the ballet a holiday tradition in the United States.

The July 30 “Balanchine Celebration” will include performances of Square Dance and Agon “both celebrating their 50th anniversaries this year ” and Rubies (1967). Square Dance will also feature live musical accompaniment, courtesy of a group of brilliant chamber musicians from the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival.

Regarding Square Dance, Balanchine explained: “The American style of classical dancing, its subtle sharpness and richness of metric invention, its superb preparation for risks and its high spirits were some of the things I was trying to show in this ballet.”

The music of Igor Stravinsky had always appealed to Balanchine, and he enjoyed a long association with the great composer from his days working for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes where he famously choreographed his first Stravinsky masterpiece Apollo (1928). Balanchine commissioned Agon for New York City Ballet in the 1950’s from the composer, and it premiered in December of 1957 at New York’s City Center of Music and Drama. Declaring that “music like this has not been heard before,” Balanchine took up the challenge of Agon’s fiendishly, and to him, delectably difficult score and choreographed a work that, matching the music in complexity and inventiveness, redefined ballet for our time. The choreographer himself referred to Agon as his “I.B.M. ballet,” seemingly controlled by “an electronic brain.”

Balanchine’s Jewels is a three-act plotless ballet, the first of its kind, with the three acts aptly named Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds. Rubies, which will close the July 30 program, is the American heart of Jewels, effusing a glamorous and witty chic to its jazzy Stravinsky score. Balanchine’s choreography is half elegant and half street-smart, full of popular dance references, jutting hips, show biz kicks and witty counter-rhythms.

Tickets for the “Balanchine Celebration” are priced at $40 and $55 for designated Vilar Center seating and are available online at http://www.vaildance.org or by calling (970) 845-TIXS (8497) or 1-888-920-ARTS (2787).

In addition to the “Balanchine Celebration,” individual tickets for the 2007 Vail International Dance Festival are priced from $17 to $85, with special pricing for the August 8 Christopher Wheeldon evening at the Vilar Center.

An array of ticket packages are also available, including the Center Stage Pass ($475), providing premium reserved seats for all festival performances, with the exception of August 8, and the popular Performance Plus Pass ($75), which features discounted general admission lawn seating for all seven Dance Festival performances at the Ford Amphitheater and a $10 discount on a bottle of wine at all Amphitheater shows.

New for 2007 is the addition of a Student Performance Plus Pass ($50), available to all students, 18 years of age and under, which also provides general admission seating for all Amphitheater shows.

The Vail International Dance Festival, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater and Vilar Center for the Arts are all programs and facilities of the Vail Valley Foundation. For additional information, please contact (970) 949-1999 or visit http://www.vvf.org.

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