Balanchine, the Teacher: ‘I Pushed Everybody’


“The setting is a ballet class, and the year is 1974. George Balanchine throws up his arms in exasperation at the sight of a dancer executing a step incorrectly at the barre. We may not be able to see her, and what she’s doing wrong, but we feel how hard Balanchine is taking it. It’s not just his words — ‘that’s bad’ — but the punctuation of his body, emphatic, agile, alive. His hands slap his thighs. He raises an arm like a stiff branch to show how far a leg should be raised. It’s not high; it’s parallel to the floor. … The new film ‘In Balanchine’s Classroom,’ directed by Connie Hochman, focuses on the teaching of the groundbreaking choreographer — and how it instilled his dances at New York City Ballet with articulate, musical brilliance. It’s both enthralling and heartbreaking. To love Balanchine is to love this film; to love this film is to love ballet, specifically Balanchine’s kind and his kind of dancer: daring, fast, strong, free, at one with the music. Each is different from the next. That mattered to him. … Balanchine is irreplaceable. His ballets are still performed, most regularly by City Ballet, the company he formed with Lincoln Kirstein, but are they performed in the same way? It’s that question that makes the film heartbreaking. Each year since Balanchine’s death in 1983, his legacy has become more vulnerable. The pandemic sped that up. In many ways, ‘In Balanchine’s Classroom’ is a call to action, an opportunity to study what he left behind: his teaching, which was the basis for all that followed. He not only revolutionized ballet, but he also made it reflect the feeling of the time while giving it a sense of timelessness. … Since Hochman began work on the documentary more than 10 years ago, several of the dancers she interviewed, including Jacques d’Amboise, have died. Esteemed teachers like Suki Schorer, a former principal who started teaching at Balanchine’s request in the early 1960s and continues to do so at the School of American Ballet, are getting older. That the film preserves their voices, and many more, is invaluable. (Hochman is also building an archive of the dozens of dancers that she interviewed for the film. A selection of snippets is available online.) …”
NY Times
W – George Balanchine
YouTube: IN BALANCHINE’S CLASSROOM – official US trailer, Balanchine PBS Documentary 1:54:27, I, George Balanchine  (2018)  44:02


New York City Ballet rehearsal of “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue”; George Balanchine with Suzanne Farrell and Arthur Mitchell, choreography by George Balanchine

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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