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Firebird at New York City Ballet

01/31/12 David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza (Columbus Ave. at 63rd St.) Map
212-721-6500
nycballet.com Ages: All Ages
In G Major at New York City Ballet
01/31/12 David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza (Columbus Ave. at 63rd St.) Map
212-721-6500
nycballet.com Ages: All Ages
Tarantella at New York City Ballet
01/31/12 David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza (Columbus Ave. at 63rd St.) Map
212-721-6500
nycballet.com Ages: All Ages

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Balanchine's Firebird was one of the choreographer's first creations for the young New York City Ballet, using elaborate sets and costumes. The story, the choreography, the sets, and the music all integrated many brilliantly colored elements from Russian folklore. Because Balanchine chose to use the orchestral suite rather than the complete three-act score, he simplified the story and emphasized the mythical elements of the Firebird's character. For revivals in 1970, 1972, and 1980, Balanchine changed his choreography for the Firebird — and sometimes the costume as well — to suit the ballerina cast in the leading role. At Balanchine's invitation, in 1970, the artist Marc Chagall came to New York City to supervise the construction of new sets and costumes based on his designs for a new production. For the 1970 revival, Robbins contributed new choreography for the monsters' dance. The current production was staged in 1985. Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), born in Russia, is acknowledged as one of the great composers of the twentieth century. His work encompassed styles as diverse as Romanticism, Neoclassicism and Serialism. His ballets for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes included The Firebird, Petrushka, The Rite of Spring, and Apollo. His music has been used in over thirty ballets originating with New York City Ballet from 1948 through 1987, including Danses Concertantes, Orpheus, The Cage, Agon, Monumentum pro Gesualdo, Rubies, Symphony in Three Movements, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Concerto for Two Solo Pianos, Suite from L'Histoire du Soldat, Concertino, and Jeu de Cartes.

Ravel composed the Concerto in G Major after a trip to the United States. It has been seen as a reflection on Gershwin and American musical comedy. Ravel described the work as "... written in very much the same spirit as those of Mozart and Saint-Saëns," and that "it uses certain effects borrowed from jazz, but only in moderation." (Arbie Orenstein, Ravel: Man and Musician.) When the Paris Opera Ballet staged In G Major, under the name "En Sol," it commissioned scenery and costumes by Erté, which were borrowed by New York City Ballet. Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) was born in the French Basque town of Ciboure. His family moved to Paris and encouraged him to take piano lessons. At fourteen he was admitted to the Paris Conservatory, where he studied with Fauré, who became his principal teacher of composition. His ballet scores include Pavane pour une Infante Défunte, Jeux d'Eau, Boléro, Daphnis and Chloe, Ma Mère L'Oye, and L'enfant et les Sortiléges, a ballet-opera.

The nimble quickness of Tarantella provides a virtuosic showcase. The profusion of steps and the quick changes of direction this brief but explosive pas de deux requires typify the ways in which Balanchine expanded the traditional vocabulary of classical dance. Gottschalk, who lived from 1829 to 1869, was one of the first American composers to be recognized in Europe. His syncopated rhythms and jagged melodic lines incorporating elements of folk dancing foreshadowed the work of other American composers later in the 19th century.

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