Serenade, George Balanchine, State Ballet of Georgia, Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings in C by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. State Ballet of Georgia. Johvi International Ballet Festival 2017, shot on 6.5.2017.
Nino Samadashvili, Nutsa Tšekurashvili, Ekaterine Surmava, Tekla Tkešelašvili, Mariam Elošvili, Teona Akhobadze, Sophiko Phantsulaja, Rusudan Kvitsiani, Olga Dolidze, Tea Kopaleišvili, Jekaterina Mahatšašvili, Vera Kikabidze, Ina Azmaiparašvili, Natalia Rigvava, Tamta Bakhtadze, Nia Geladze, Anna Tkešelašvili, Shorena Khaindrava, Alisa Bogdanova, Machi Muto, Maya Iluridze-Pratt, Nia Gulordava, Nino Megrelišvili, Frank Van Tongeren.
George Balanchine (1904 – 1983) born in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire, son of Georgian opera singer and composer Meliton Balanchivadze, one of the founders of the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre and later the culture minister of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. Styled as the father of American ballet, he co-founded the New York City Ballet and remained its Artistic Director for more than 35 years. Balanchine took the standards and technique from his time at the Imperial Ballet School and fused it with other schools of movement that he had adopted during his tenure on Broadway and in Hollywood, creating his signature “neoclassical style”. He was a choreographer known for his musicality; he expressed music with dance and worked extensively with leading composers of his time like Igor Stravinsky. Balanchine was invited to America in 1933 by a young arts patron named Lincoln Kirstein, and together they founded the School of American Ballet. Along with Kirstein, Balanchine also co-founded the New York City Ballet (NYCB).
Serenade is a milestone in the history of dance. It is the first original ballet Balanchine created in America and is one of the signature works of New York City Ballet’s repertory. The ballet is performed by 28 dancers in blue costumes in front of a blue background. Originating it as a lesson in stage technique, Balanchine worked unexpected rehearsal events into the choreography. When one student fell, he incorporated it. Another day, a student arrived late, and this too became part of the ballet. After its initial presentation, Serenade was reworked several times. In its present form there are four movements — “Sonatina,” “Waltz,” “Russian Dance,” and “Elegy.” The last two movements reverse the order of Tschaikovsky’s score, ending the ballet on a note of sadness. Balanchine had a special affinity for Tschaikovsky. “In everything that I did to Tschaikovsky’s music,” he told an interviewer, “I sensed his help. It wasn’t real conversation. But when I was working and saw that something was coming of it, I felt that it was Tschaikovsky who had helped me.”
Party fact: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) studied at the Conservatory in St. Petersburg, where Balanchine later studied piano in addition to his studies in dance.
Photos by Jack Devant Ballet Photography with kind permission of the State Ballet of Georgia and Jõhvi Ballet Festival, special thanks to Piia Tamm.