2017 Vail Dance Festival Magazine

Page 57

Choreographers’ Canon Celebrating American Dance: George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Martha Graham By Claudia Schreier

Daniel Ulbricht in Fancy Free. Photo by Sharon Bradford. Tuesday, August 1 7:30pm

Robbins’ Fancy Free & Balanchine’s Serenade*

Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail Friday, August 11 7:30pm

Martha Graham Dance Company Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail


his summer, Vail Dance Festival presents two programs at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater that shine the spotlight on three 20th century creative geniuses who redefined American dance: George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Martha Graham. Spanning the worlds of ballet, Broadway and modern dance — and sometimes combining all three — these choreographers carved radically new paths that continue to resonate with audiences and influence artists of today.



n a program celebrating American dance classics, what better choice than to present

the first ballet choreographed in America by the father of American ballet, George Balanchine? Set to Tschaikovsky’s rapturous Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48, the seminal ballet premiered in 1934 with students of the School of American Ballet and has since become not only one of the cornerstones of New York City Ballet’s vast repertory, but one of the most-performed Balanchine ballets danced by professional companies, universities, and ballet schools across the world. This year, Vail Dance Festival welcomes Colorado Ballet to the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater stage to perform Serenade joined by Festival guest artists. “Serenade was first performed outside under the stars in 1934, and in a sense it belongs on our stage” said Festival Director Damian Woetzel. “It is a ballet that is about the transforming nature of dance, and indeed it transforms our theater itself as the moon rises behind the stage and Tschaikovsky’s score fills the air.” Much has been written about the transcendent power of Serenade, though one need only hear the distinctive strains of descending notes washing over a pool of dancers bathed in blue to understand Balanchine’s genius. Vail audiences will have the added treat of hearing the score performed live by the

American Ballet 1935. George Balanchine’s Serenade*. Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra, which will be conducted by Kurt Crowley, the music director of Broadway’s Hamilton. Serenade is iconic not only for its beauty and inextricable embodiment of Tschaikovsky’s score, but for its innovative merging of classical ballet technique and neoclassical ideals of harmony and equilibrium. In many ways Balanchine’s creative process for Serenade reflects celebrated 20th century American characteristics of spontaneity, adaptation, and perseverance. Said Balanchine of the ballet’s



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