Stager Diana White with Principal Dancers Misa Kuranaga & Patrick Yocum in Rehearsal for George Balanchine's Chaconne © The George Balanchine Trust.
Photo credit: Brooke Trisolini
Stager Diana White and Principal Dancer Patrick Yocum share what it’s like to be part of the great legacy of dancing Balanchine’s Chaconne.
Principal Dancers Misa Kuranaga & Patrick Yocum in Rehearsal for George Balanchine's Chaconne © The George Balanchine Trust.Photo credit: Brooke Trisolini
Rehearsal for George Balanchine's Chaconne © The George Balanchine Trust.Photo credit: Brooke Trisolini
Diana White: When I was 10 years old, Balanchine’s New York City Ballet (NYCB) came to Chicago to recruit local children to perform in his production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. From then on, I dreamed that I would dance in his company. When I was 14, I joined the Lyric Opera of Chicago Ballet, under the direction of Balanchine’s former wife, Maria Tallchief. Soon after that, Mr. B (as dancers affectionately call him) came to Chicago to set the dances for Gluck’s opera, Orfeo. Actually, that is the very same music he used to create the ballet Chaconne on NYCB one year later. It’s one reason this ballet is so special to me. I wrote him a letter, asking to come to New York. He offered me a scholarship to the School of American Ballet, and I started dancing with NYCB the following year.
Diana White: It’s a delight! For these dancers, learning Balanchine choreography is not a departure. Everyone has a fantastic classical base, and most have danced Balanchine works before. Staging the ballet is a matter of my being as specific as possible about the steps, the musicality, the architecture, the energy, and the artistic intention. Then, together, we try to bring it to the highest level. Each time I work with a new group of dancers, I see new facets of the ballet.
Diana White: I danced several different parts, but as with any Balanchine ballet, no matter which part you are performing, you have the experience of embodying the music through his brilliant choreography. It’s like receiving and sharing a gift.
Patrick Yocum: Chaconne, especially for the man, is a fantastic exploration of the speed that you need when dancing a Balanchine ballet. The style emphasizes extreme musicality, and it goes beyond the classical ballet realm of possibility in the partnering. I think the man’s role in Chaconne is one of the best that I’ve seen in the Balanchine repertoire. It’s this beautiful combination of bravura and elegance.
Principal Dancers Misa Kuranaga & Patrick Yocum in Rehearsal for George Balanchine's Chaconne © The George Balanchine Trust.
Photo credit: Brooke Trisolini
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