The George Balanchine Foundation is pleased to announce the release of the complete series of THE BALANCHINE ESSAYS in DVD format.
Toward the latter part of his life, Balanchine talked about creating a “dictionary” of his technique, a visual reference for students of the ballet. The George Balanchine Foundation has helped to fulfill his wish by producing The Balanchine Essays. These Essays provide over nine hours of visual discussion of Balanchine’s ideas on technique that are not only educational but also protect the high standards Balanchine himself set for his dancers.
Former New York City Ballet principal dancers Merrill Ashley and Suki Schorer are the co-creators of the Essays, in which they demonstrate crucial aspects of Balanchine Style® and Balanchine Technique® and illustrate how the choreographer applied them in his ballets. The Essays are directed by veteran television arts director Merrill Brockway, who collaborated with Balanchine in creating several programs in the awardwinning television series Dance in America. Catherine Tatge, who earlier produced the CBS Cable version of Balanchine’s ballet Davidsbündlertänze, is the producer.
The executive producer is Barbara Horgan.
Three titles of the acclaimed series were previously issued in VHS format by Nonesuch Records, a division of Time Warner, under the Balanchine Library label. Today the entire ten-part set is being offered by The Foundation in DVD format. Titles include: Port de Bras & Épaulement, The Barre – Part 1, The Barre – Part 2, Arabesque, Jumps – Part 1, Jumps – Part 2, Pirouettes & Other Turns, Passé & Attitude, Transfer of Weight, and Pointe Technique & Pas de Bourrée.
For information regarding the purchase of these videos, which are available only to not for profit academic, research and library organizations please contact: [email protected]
MERRILL ASHLEY was awarded one of the first Ford Foundation Scholarships to attend the School of American Ballet. In 1967, Balanchine invited her to join the corps de ballet of the New York City Ballet, and by the time she was promoted to soloist in 1974, she was already dancing two of the most technically demanding roles ever choreographed by him, Theme and Variations and Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2. Ms. Ashley was promoted to principal dancer in 1977, the year Balanchine choreographed his first ballet for her, Ballo della Regina. One of his last ballets, Ballade, was created on her in 1980. During her illustrious thirty-one year career with the New York City Ballet, her repertory included a diverse array of ballets, including Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15, The Four Temperaments, Raymonda, Square Dance, Stars and Stripes, and Symphony in C, and Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering and Goldberg Variations. She originated roles in Robbins’ Concertino and Brahms/Handel and in Peter Martins’ Barber Violin Concerto and Fearful Symmetries. Ms. Ashley retired on November 25, 1997 at a gala celebration opening the New York City Ballet’s winter season. In summing up her career, the Wall Street Journal said, “she basically taught the world how ballet is danced.” Currently, Ms. Ashley stages Balanchine ballets and teaches at schools and companies all over the world. She taught and coached Ballo della Regina for The George Balanchine Foundation’s Interpreters Archive.
MERRILL BROCKWAY was born in the small Indiana town of New Carlisle and began studying the piano at the age of seven. He continued throughout his young adulthood, graduating with a Master of Arts in Musicology from Columbia University. He taught piano, coached singing, and toured as an accompanist until at the age of 30 he became part of the new television industry. Beginning in Philadelphia and achieving much success, in 1962 he was invited to direct at WCBS New York. In 1967 he was asked to produce and direct the celebrated cultural program Camera 3. He featured such luminaries as Beverly Sills, Pierre Boulez, Maurice Béjart, and the Japanese classical Bunraku Puppet Theater, among others. In 1975, he was invited by PBS to produce and direct a first-time television dance series, Dance in America. He worked with the companies of Martha Graham, Twyla Tharp, American Ballet Theatre, Merce Cunningham, and especially George Balanchine, whom he considers his teacher. In 1980, he returned to CBS, working as Executive Producer of Arts Programming for the newly-formed CBS Cable cultural channel. From 1990 to 1993, he directed two independent projects, one on Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, filmed in Monte Carlo; the other, The Romantic Era, featured four ballerinas in the famous nineteenth-century showpiece Le Pas de Quatre. Unexpectedly, Hollywood decided to make a film of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, and Brockway was the coordinating producer. His final projects included a biographical portrait, Tennessee Williams: Orpheus of the American Stage , and “The Balanchine Essays,” ten videos exploring Balanchine’s approach to classical ballet technique. In 1993, he retired to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
SUKI SCHORER joined the New York City Ballet in 1959 and was promoted to principal dancer in 1968. She performed leading roles in numerous ballets by George Balanchine and originated soloist parts in Balanchine’s Don Quixote, La Source, Raymonda Variations, Harlequinade, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. From her earliest days in the Company, Mr. Balanchine recognized Schorer’s potential as an instructor, sending her to his School of American Ballet to guest teach, having her substitute for him in company class, enlisting her participation as his assistant in a series of Ford Foundation teachers seminars, and, asking her to teach special classes for new NYCB company members. Upon her retirement from NYCB in 1972, Balanchine appointed her to the permanent faculty at SAB, where she has taught technique, pointe and variations classes and staged Balanchine masterworks for the annual Workshop performances and other SAB appearances for more than forty years. She is the author of the award-winning Suki Schorer on Balanchine Technique (Knopf 1999); her book is available in paper (University of Florida Press) and has been translated into French and Italian (Gremese 2009). Ms. Schorer is a frequent guest teacher and a lecturer on the Balanchine aesthetic at schools and companies around the world. She received the Dance Magazine Award in 1998.
The George Balanchine Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation founded in 1983. Its mission is to create programs that educate the public and further Balanchine’s work and aesthetic in order to facilitate high standards of excellence in dance and related arts. www.balanchine.org