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Daniel Durrett rehearsing Agon for rEVOLUTION.
Photo credit: Brooke Trisolini
Explore the unprecedented impact of George Balanchine’s Agon on the world of dance.
Geoffrey Rhue and Kyra Strasberg for Boston Ballet’s 1991 performance of Agon for The Balanchine Legacy.Photo credit: Jennifer Lester, courtesy of Boston Ballet Archives
George Balanchine rehearsing with Boston Ballet dancers for Scotch Symphony (circa 1965).courtesy of The Harvard Archives
How did George Balanchine become known as the father of American ballet?
Over the span of his distinguished career, GEORGE BALANCHINE propelled ballet beyond the imagination of delighted audiences worldwide. Along with the historic establishment of the School of American Ballet and New York City Ballet, Balanchine choreographed over 400 original works in his lifetime. His illustrious index of pieces exemplifies the ingenious style and inventive experimentation that made Balanchine one of the foremost choreographers in the history of ballet.
Balanchine’s singular influence on ballet is abundantly prevalent at Boston Ballet, where he served as an artistic advisor during the Company’s EARLY YEARS.
The artistic development of Agon was born of Balanchine’s close partnership with famed composer Igor Stravinsky. Balanchine and Stravinsky were life-long friends and collaborators; together, they created some of the most highly regarded ballets of the past century, including Agon.
Most often, choreographers produce works based on music that is already written ahead of time, but for Agon, Balanchine developed the choreography in tandem with Stravinsky as he composed the score. “Stravinsky and I met to discuss details of the ballet,” said Balanchine in his book, 101 Stories of the Great Ballets. “[He] always breaks things down to essentials… We narrowed the plan as specifically as possible.”
From his extensive conversations with Balanchine, Stravinsky sketched the basic movements and precise timings for the ballet in detail on the original outlines for the score. From there, Stravinsky composed a score with sounds Balanchine described in his book as never heard before. This uniquely iterative process allowed for the perfect marriage between music and movement.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Addie Tapp and Desean Taber rehearsing Agon for rEVOLUTION.
Photo credit: Brooke Trisolini
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