george balanchine: 2 posts

Georgian National Ballet : Dance and Dazzle

If Georgia’s cuisine is any indication, this country’s other arts are equally dazzling, especially music and dance. The first time I saw Georgian dancing was when the Georgian National Ballet Sukhishivili-Ramishvili visited Kyiv during my childhood. By then I had already studied classical ballet for several years, so it was hard to impress me with complicated turns or jumps, but when the Georgian troupe took stage, it charged up the whole auditorium with so much energy that for the two hours of the performance I felt myself soaring. I have since seen hundreds of dance performances, both folk and classics, but this feeling of intoxication and euphoria returned only on a few occasions since, the most recent being during Natalia Osipova’s performance of Giselle.

And it’s hard not to be moved watching Georgian dancing with its energy, rhythm, complex technique and precision. The clip above is the rehearsal of the same troupe I saw as a child, but of course, with a new generation of dancers. Sukhishvili-Ramishvili Ballet is based on traditional Georgian dancing, though they incorporate classical ballet elements to polish the movements further. Men dancing on bent toes, though, is part of the traditional repertoire, predating ballet’s en pointe technique. Although this clip is only the rehearsal, it gives you a sense of the troupe’s virtuosity. I watched it at least ten times, and I still hold my breath when the dancers do pirouettes on their knees, then raise themselves en pointe before jumping in the air and holding a trinacria-like shape for what seems like minutes.

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Ballet and Perfume Balanchine and Guerlain

Watching an interview with the late New York City Ballet artistic director and choreographer, George Balanchine, on a DVD titled simply Balanchine (2004) led me to an interesting Guerlain reference. In an interview, Balanchine mentions that he liked buying perfumes for his dancers and especially Guerlain.

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Although he did not name any specific perfumes, in another article I read that Mitsouko was among his favorites. The interviewer must have made a comment about the beauty of dancers as they trail perfume on the stage like lithe fragrant flowers, to which Balanchine replied, waving away the remark, “No, no, I just like to know once I get to the theater whether everybody is present and who is missing.” This was a quintessential Balanchine moment. Having such a grounded perspective in the ephemeral world of ballet is a true rarity.

Photo: George Balanchine and Suzanne Farrell in rehearsal.

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