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New York and the Nureyev Tapes:

X-tra! X-tra!

Here’s a run through of what we saw in New York this May!

Giselle

On May 18th we made our debut visit to Lincoln Center’s Met Opera House where we saw American Ballet Theatre’s performance of Giselle featuring the highly broadcast David Hallberg and Natalia Osipova.

American Ballet Theatre's Giselle, Season 2018

The historic ballet which triumphed from its very premiere on June 28, 1841 in France with the legendary Italian ballerina Carlotta Grisi in the lead continues to strike a remarkable chord with audiences today. The classical choreography of Giselle is based on the staging of the great French-Russian choreographer Marius Petipa. 

Carlotta Grisi in the first act of Giselle (1842)
Nijinsky as Albrecht, 1910
Anna Pavlova as Giselle (before 1931)
Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg in ABT’s Giselle, photo by Gene Schiavone

The ballet tells the story of a peasant girl named Giselle who dies of a broken heart upon finding out that the one she loves has cheated her with his engagement to another.

Giselle is called from her grave to join a haunting group of supernatural women called the Wilis, young virgins who have all died of a broken heart, seeking to destroy those who have betrayed them by ruthlessly dancing the men to death. The Wilis target Giselle’s Albrecht, but Giselle finds it in her heart to forgive him and saves him from the dreadful fate.

Jerome Robbins Tribute: Fancy Free

On May 20th we trotted down to Lincoln Center once again, where we saw New York City Ballet perform a trio suite of Fancy Free, Dybbuk and West Side Story, celebrating the legendary partnership between Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein.

The first collaboration between Robbins and Bernstein, Fancy Free premiered in 1944 showcasing the exploits of three off-duty sailors in 1940’s wartime New York City, an echo to the scenes from Robbins own life.  This ballet was the forerunner to Robbins’ and Bernstein’s Broadway hit On the Town.

Bernstein (left) and Robbins (seated) with Sol Hurok on the set of Fancy Free, photo courtesy New York Public Library
Jerome Robbins, John Kriza, Michael Kidd, Janet Reed, and Muriel Bentley in Fancy Free (ABT, 1944)
Sebastian Villarini-Velez, Harrison Coll and Roman Mejia in NYCB's Fancy Free (May 2018), photo by Paul Kolnik

Jerome Robbins Tribute: Dybbuk

NYCB performs Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins’ Dybbuk (May 2018), photo by Paul Kolnik

Adding a new and haunting dimension to the term “monkey on your back”, Dybbuk is an abstraction on the play The Dybbuk or Between Two Worlds written by S. Ansky between 1913 and 1916.  Robbin’s production focuses on the occult aspect of Russian-Jewish folklore whereby a lost and tormented spirit exists between worlds by inhabiting the susceptible mind of a living person through which it speaks and acts. Originally written in Russian, the play was later translated to Yiddish by Ansky himself.

S. Ansky whose actual name was Solomon Zanvel Rappoport was born in Vitebsk, Russia (now in Belarus) in 1863 and died in Warsaw, Poland on November 8, 1920.  Ansky was a Russian-Jewish writer and folklorist best known for his play The Dybbuk.

Dybbuk, by art nouveau illustrator and printmaker Ephraim Moshe Lilien
Russian writer S. Ansky

Jerome Robbins Tribute: West Side Story

New York City Ballet performs West Side Story suite, photo by Paul Kolnik (May 2018)

A modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in gang-ridden 1950’s New York, this work took the partnership between Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein to new heights.  The mammoth Broadway hit West Side Story premiered in 1957, followed by the 1961 movie version which garnered 10 Academy Awards.

Bernstein (left) and Robbins take a bow after a production (photo by Martha Swope, American photographer of theatre and dance)
Jerome Robbins (right) directs Jay Norman, George Chakiris and Eddie Verso in West Side Story, 1961

Hope these production silhouettes spark you to bring more ballet into your life!

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