Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Balanchine does Mozart

It is very hard for me to listen to Mozart's K. 287 divertimento without regretting that I had only one opportunity to see Balanchine's choreography of this music performed. Fortunately, it was at a time when there were still two dancers who had been in the original 1956 performance, Melissa Hayden and Nicholas Magallanes; and I should be thankful that this one occasion was one more than the number of chances I had to see Balanchine's choreography of the K. 364 "Sinfonia Concertante!" Back in 1956 Balanchine was shaping the minds, as well as the bodies, of his dancers, making this a time when one could often see better performances of Mozart than what one was hearing in the concert halls. Hayden and Magallanes were joined by Tanaquil LeClercq (this was the last ballet she performed before succumbing to polio), Diana Adams, Patricia Wilde, Allegra Kent, Herbert Bliss, and Roy Tobias. I just wish I could find the record of who danced what, because, however much one may write about Balanchine's work as abstraction, there is so much character in the music that one assumes that those character traits were revealed in the choreography. I have been able to determine that each of the musical variations in the second movement was a solo dance variation, and I have to believe that the adagio movement was set as a pas de deux. (How else could it be set?) Beyond that my memories are too spare to fill in the blanks. At least this afternoon I got to hear the music conducted by George Cleve, one of the few conductors with an understanding of the working of both the choreography and the music itself.

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