This week we wrap up our study in the world of ballet. From its origins at the court of King Louis XIV to the Romantic Period to the Classical Period, we evolve into Balanchine and Robbins, DeMille, Tudor, and artists working today in Contemporary Ballet like Wayne McGregor, Justin Peck and Kyle Abraham.
Jerome Robbins is one of the world’s most famous, accomplished, and innovative choreographers. Known for his ground-breaking choreography in West Side Story, Jerome Robbins was an Associate Artistic Director at New York City Ballet as well, working alongside Balanchine. He produced some revelatory works including Fancy Free, Dances at a Gathering, Afternoon of a Faun, and The Cage.
Anthony Tudor was an English ballet choreographer working in the early to mid 20th century. His work was one of the first in ballet to showcase authentic human emotion. We see much humanity in his work, while still abstracted and not overtly showy. It is a beautiful stripped down emotional style of ballet. One of his most famous works is 1936’s The Lilac Garden.
Please view this clip of Tudor’s The Lilac Garden featuring Sylvie Guillem. This is a rough version but is a wonderful opportunity to see Ms. Guillem bring her artistry and humanity to this famous ballet role:
1. Tudor’s The Lilac Garden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7quiKr6UkU
Please view the following Robbins material- these are all brief clips:
1. Wendy Whelan on The Cage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqLmH-f9VOw
2. Tiler Peck on Dances at a Gathering: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8GOTCkrekU
3. Jacques d’Amboise and Tanaquil LeClerq in Afternoon of a Faun: https://www.pbs.org/video/american-masters-tanaquil-le-clercq-jerome-robbins-afternoon-faun/
-(The full work is available here, if you are interested in watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYHzMxq3wrY)
4. Tyler Angle on Fancy Free: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OskPFsniZj0
Agnes deMille was a contemporary ballet choreographer who also worked widely in theatre. Her dream ballets from Oklahoma and Carousel are both widely revered. Her ballet Rodeo is a beautiful contemporary work set to the iconic Aaron Copland piece. She excelled in iconic American story ballets that held a modern sensibility. Please view the following works:
1. Rodeo Ballet with commentary by Agnes DeMille: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PGkJkpK1yU
2. Carousel Dream Ballet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYY6DhNGJAk
3. Oklahoma Dream Ballet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2D1loAVwiMc
Justin Peck is today’s leading young ballet choreographer. A rising star, he also just won a Tony Award for his work in the new revival of Carousel on Broadway. He works in the streamlined Balanchine style, very athletic with attention to line and detail, with a wonderful modern vibrancy. He choreographed a new version of Rodeo, in a more abstract style. His work does not feature dancers in cowboy costumes, but streamlined leotards. With each of his new works, NYCB films a brief trailer of the work in a site-specific location. Note how this brings his works like The Times They Are a Racing out of the theatre and into the streets. Justin Peck has just wrapped production on the new motion picture revival of West Side Story, where he has taken on choreographing this new production.
Please view the following clips from his works:
1. Peck’s Rodeo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipXsCjFAKk0
2. The Times They Are a Racing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj0nltZOf50
3. Peck’s Carousel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoCHwYkBJlM
4. In the Countenance of Kings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMTv_Y0Zrl4
5. This is a brief segment/documentary-style on Peck and his work, please view:
6. Another short video doc on Peck and his work that gives you a great glimpse into his work with dancers in the studio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzWJ6vocp44
There are many contemporary choreographers working today, some crossing over from the modern world. Kyle Abraham recently choreographed a new piece for NYCB. Yuri Kylian is still the artistic director and choreographer for The Nederlands Dans Theatre. We viewed his groundbreaking work, Le Petite Mort, earlier in the semester, when we looked at the work of Sylvie Guillem.
Wayne McGregor’s work is very striking and modern, and completely abstract.
Please view the following Wayne McGregor clips:
1. Chroma: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SMmL6kIx-w
2. Wayne McGregor working in real time: https://www.ted.com/talks/wayne_mcgregor_a_choreographer_s_creative_process_in_real_time?language=en
1. Compare the works of Jerome Robbins in one or two paragraphs: The Cage, Dances at a Gathering, Afternoon of a Faun and Fancy Free. He is working in many different styles from hardened abstract, to soft and detailed story ballets. He is one of the only choreographers known to have such a wide volume of work.
2. Agnes DeMille’s work is a breath of fresh air in the early-mid 20th century.
How does Agnes deMille bring a modern sensibility into a typical story ballet? (Ex: the way she treats the horses on the carousel in the Carousel dream ballet).
3. Compare DeMille’s Rodeo to Peck’s Rodeo in one or two paragraphs. How are they alike? How are they different? Which do you prefer?
4. What do you think of the way Peck’s ballets are shot in the site specific locations? Do you think it helps appeal to a younger audience? Why?
5. What do you think it would feel like to be one of Wayne McGregor’s dancers and work with him in the studio? What is your opinion of his work, Chroma?