March 11th, 2013

Concerto Barocco

“Concerto Barocco” is one of George Balanchine’s greatest—and oldest—ballets, and one of my very favorites.

This first video gives you a general idea of the piece. Note that the dancer says, “Everything feels right and I couldn’t imagine more perfect steps for the music.” I think that’s an excellent description. The music is very very beautiful, and the dance is a seemingly-perfect expression of it. Back in my dancing days I once learned a small portion of the choreography, just a tiny bit, and I can attest to the extraordinary feeling it gives to dance it—just as she describes.

Here’s some historic background which is kind of interesting:

And here are two wonderful dancers of the 40s and 50s. One of them, Tanaquil le Clerc, became Balanchine’s wife. In the mid-50s, when she was still very young, Le Clerc contracted polio and became wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life.

Very very sad. But this is a great old film:

And this clip is absolutely wonderful, too, although just a tiny snippet. Suzanne Farrell the sublime:

5 Responses to “Concerto Barocco”

  1. Ben David Says:

    Thanks for this – I had never heard of this piece.

    Although you’ve had previous discussions about the changes in dancer’s bodyweight – the dancers in that 40s clip look pretty slim and attenuated. The women in the Farrell clip (early 70s?) are the most rounded.

    The choreography also adapted pretty well to the small stage that the early TV cameras required (back to the 40s clip). I guess that shows what a “chamber” piece it is.

  2. JJ formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Beautiful dancing and choreography. I marvel at the grace an ease with which they seem to do these difficult movements. Seeing a dancer go en pointe is just beyond my ability to grasp.

  3. parker Says:

    There is grace and beauty in these videos, but as an ignorant midwestern farm boy I have to admit I can not appreciate the fine details. But thanks for bringing my ‘horse’ to the water.

  4. artfldgr Says:

    the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra – which has finally come clean about its over-friendly relationship with the Third Reich and revealed that almost half its players at the time were Nazi Party members; that 13 Jewish players were expelled, five of them to die in concentration camps; and that a lingering culture of sympathy to Nazism survived into the Sixties thanks to an SS-enrolled trumpeter who not only kept his job after the war but became the orchestra’s executive director.

  5. artfldgr Says:

    George Balanchine
    Defection 1924
    Defected during tour of Germany to Weimar Republic

    look through the list and see how many of the greats we treasure, were prisoners before escaping.

    now there is no place left on this blue ball to run

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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