The 1970s - Boston Ballet

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The 1970s

Rudolf Nureyev, Anamarie Sarazin, Edra Toth, Jerilyn Dana in George Balanchine's Apollo © The George Balanchine Trust. Mexico City, Mexico

Photo credit: Daniel Garceau, 1972



Highlights of the 1970’s included Margot Fonteyn, Natalia Makarova, touring with Rudolf Nureyev, a rock ballet, and The Sleeping Beauty.

Natalia Makarova, Ted Kivitt, and E. Virginia Williams at a press conference announcing Ms. Makarova's performance with Boston Ballet

Photographer unknown, circa 1971. Courtesy The Harvard Archives, Houghton Library

Woytek Lowski, Elaine Bauer, Lorenzo Monreal in Monreal's Hamlet, based on the play by William Shakespeare

Photo credit: Ron Montbleau, March 13, 1975

Feb 6, 1970: Dame Margot Fonteyn and Richard Cragun appeared with Boston Ballet in Les Sylphides. Boston Ballet’s Laura Young appeared opposite Fonteyn as Valse. In the same program Fonteyn and Cragun performed the Black Swan Pas De Deux. During the run of Les Sylphides Joan Kennedy also narrated Peter & The Wolf with T. Catanzaro as Peter.

Feb 12, 1971: Boston Ballet presented the world premiere of Gamete Garden. The rock ballet was specially commissioned for the company with choreography by Louis Falco and music composed by Michael Kamen with the New York Rock Ensemble. The taped music was played alongside Boston Ballet’s orchestra. The New York Rock & Roll Ensemble was a rock band of the late 1960s and early 1970s described as playing “classical baroque rock”. Founded by three Julliard students and two rock musicians, they broke with tradition by using classical music instruments in rock songs and rock instruments in classical pieces.

May 14, 1971: Natalia Makarova danced Swan Lake Act II with Boston Ballet; her first American performance following her defection from the Soviet Union the summer prior. Ted Kivitt, from American Ballet Theatre, partnered her for the performance.

Jun 27, 1972: International ballet star Rudolf Nureyev’s association with Boston Ballet spanned over a decade. In 1972 Boston Ballet dancers joined him on a TOUR to Mexico, with performances of George Balanchine’s Apollo

Dec 15, 1973: Boston Ballet celebrated 10 years as a professional company. Season highlights included a new production of Giselle, the company premieres of Alphonse Figueroa’s Jeu de Cartes, and Agnes De Mille’s Fall River Legend. The company also embarked on a National Tour in March, with performances in Tempe AZ; Cheyenne, WY; Riverside, CA; and Stanford, CA

Nov 7, 1974: Boston Ballet debuts Birgit Cullberg’s Medea; and two Merce Cunningham pieces Summerspace and Winterbranch. Of Medea Lisa Scwazbaum of The Boston Globe praised Boston Ballet company dancers Laura Young and Anamarie Sarazin’s performances as “an angularly appealing Creusa” and a “believably vengeful Medea, full of strength and fire.” However, it was Winterbrach which created the greatest sensation, but not in the best way, as audience members walked out on the performance. In contrast many critics applauded the bold move of presenting the piece. Scwarzbaum stated “[Winterbranch] is a mesmerizing exercise in creepiness, a dark craggy assault on the senses…” and Amanda Smith of the Boston Phoenix proclaimed “Plaudits to E. Virginia Williams, the artistic director of the Boston Ballet, for providing the pink-tights-and-toe-shoe audience with a controversial series of performances at the Music Hall”

1975: Boston Ballet moved studios from 551 Tremont Street to 19 Clarendon Street. The Pennock building, as it was called, had once housed a three story parking garage.

Laura Young in The Sleeping Beauty

Photo credit: Abe Epstein, 1979

Mar 13, 1975: Boston Ballet premiered Lorenzo Monreal’s one-act ballet Hamlet, based on Shakespeare tragic story. Set to the music of Dimitri Shostakovitch the work premiered with Woytek Lowski as the titular prince, Elaine Bauer as Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, Hamlet’s mother, Deidre Myles as Ophelia and Lorenzo Monreal himself as Claudius, King of Denmark and Hamlet’s uncle.

Apr 5, 1976: Boston Ballet presented its first full-length The Sleep Beauty, with choreography after Marius Petipa, staged by E. Virginia Williams and Lorenzo Monreal. For the next five years the ballet would present the piece in spring as an “Easter Nutcracker”

Mar 10, 1977: Boston Ballet presented its first JEROME ROBBINS ballet, Fanfare. Sara Leland, former student of E. Virginia Williams and New York City Ballet Dancer, set the piece. Leland, a former student of E. Virginia Williams and dancer with Boston Ballet, had appeared in the original casts of Robbins works at New York City Ballet, including his Dancers at a Gathering.

Jan 31, 1978: Boston Ballet hosted the Fourth Choreographic Showcase, with works by Joy Kellman (One-Up); Tom Pazik (Trio); Ze’eva Cohen (Rainwood); Norman Walker (Barabbas); Ron Cunningham (Minoan Dances). The Choreographers Showcase was presented yearly a Boston Ballet since 1975 and featured pieces by company members, resident choreographers, and other contemporary choreographers with many of the pieces becoming part of Boston Ballet’s repertoire

May 17, 1979: Boston Ballet presented the American premiere of AUGUSTE BOURNONVILLE’S Wednesday’s Class in honor of Bournonville’s 100th anniversary. Kirsten Ralov and Fredbjørn Bjørnsson of the Royal Danish Ballet came to Boston to stage piece.


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