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Remembering Mr. B: a national celebration.

The Enduring Legacy of George Balanchine, a multimedia exhibition celebrating the achievements of the choreographer, remains open until April 24 in the Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and then moves to the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, New York. Materials can be viewed there until April 2005.

This centennial project was co-curated by Nancy Lassalle, former New York City Ballet education director and board member, and Madeleine Nichols, curator of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at NYPL-PA. While the exhibition includes many items and images from Balanchine's early period in Russia's St. Petersburg and in western Europe, the focus is on the New York years--from 1933 until the choreographer's death in 1983--and the remarkable collaboration with Lincoln Kirstein, co founder of the School of American Ballet and NYGB. As Kirstein wrote to the Ford Foundation in a 1959 letter currently on display, "New York is the only city in the world where we could have built this company."

Photos document American Ballet, Balanchine's first U.S. ensemble, which appeared in the early ballets Serenade and Alma Mater, as well as in Mr. B's Hollywood films and the Broadway productions On Your Toes and The Boys from Syracuse. These images clearly reveal Balanchine's vision of a new classical aesthetic that would reshape America's dance landscape.

Two video installations demonstrate the linkage between Balanchine's developing technique and choreography. Michael Maule and Maria Tallchief perform the pas de deux from his 1949 version of The Firebird. In Balanchine Essays: Passe and Attitude, Suki Schorer and Merrill Ashley explain the finer details of the style. Twelve oral histories on audiotape provide additional insights.

Much of the exhibition is devoted to SAB, where Mr. B trained hundreds who became dancers, teachers, choreographers, and artistic directors, further spreading his influence. Photos are interspersed with costumes, design renderings, and models, as well as written documents. Most interesting among the last is a 1947 letter written in Paris from Balanchine to Kirstein, announcing plans for what became Symphony in C.

Quotes from both men punctuate all materials. In one, Mr. B succinctly affirms: "Choreographic movement is an end in itself, and its only purpose is to create the impression of intensity and beauty." Supporting this statement is a photograph of Balanchine as the Don with Suzanne Farrell in his 1965 Don Quixote. By then, the choreographer's impossible American dream of a school, company, and home theater had been realized, and ballets continued to evolve.

Admission to the exhibition is free at Lincoln Center, tickets range from $3.00 to $6.50 in Saratoga Springs.

George Balanchine rehearses Arthur Mitchell in the Four Temperaments (1958)

ALSO George Balanchine, Ballet Master: A Centennial Exhibition, a major retrospective of the choreographer's work and career, including his impact on San Francisco, continues through June 19 at the San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum Admission is free. For more information, call 415.255.4800 * The Harvard Theatre's Collection's 100th anniversary Balanchine exhibition, much of it drawn from the institution's extensive holdings of the Balanchine papers, runs April 15-May 28. The show is free, as is the all-day, April symposium. For more information, call 617.495.2445.
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Title Annotation:multimedia exhibition celebrating George Balanchine at New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Author:Hardy, Camille
Publication:Dance Magazine
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Apr 1, 2004
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