George Balanchine, known as The Father of American Ballet, broke ground when he put his twist on traditional ballet standards and techniques. Before his storied career at Ballet Arizona, Ib Andersen was mentored by the legendary choreographer during his tenure as a dancer at New York City Ballet. Ballet Arizona will take Balanchine’s works to the next level during its annual production of All Balanchine May 4-7 at Symphony Hall.
Andersen, Ballet Arizona’s Artistic Director, will present three of Balanchine’s works including one never before performed in Arizona, Raymonda Variations. The Valley’s only professional ballet company will present five performances of All Balanchine with musical accompaniment from The Phoenix Symphony.
Emeralds evokes the elegance and romanticism of 19th century ballet. With a lush score by Fauré and dancers dressed in Romantic-length tutus Emeralds is a window into the nostalgia inherent in much late 19th-century art, with its idealized view of the Middle Ages, chivalry, and courtly love.
Breaking with convention, Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments is an experimental work that portrays the medieval concept of the four personality types (Melancholic, Sanguinic, Phlegmatic, and Choleric). Brilliantly choreographed and filled with arresting solos and ensembles, The Four Temperaments introduced new possibilities for ballet that continues to challenge dancers and audiences equally.
Ballet Arizona will also present the Arizona premiere of Balanchine’s Raymonda Variations, composed by Alexander Glazunov. Set to a melodic and enchanting musical score, Raymonda Variations is a bustle of precise ballet technique that materializes into a spectacle of dance with a succession of remarkable solos at its center.
“It is an honor to be able to present three of Balanchine’s masterpieces,” said Andersen. “Balanchine was an incredible friend, mentor, and choreographer whose impact on ballet will not be forgotten. This is a must-see performance as Ballet Arizona explores 19th century romanticism, medieval personality concepts, and dance spectacles with three of Balanchine’s iconic works.”
“I am thrilled that The Phoenix Symphony and Ballet Arizona are once again able to perform All Balanchine together after so many years,” said Matthew Kasper, Ballet Arizona’s principal conductor. “The live interaction between the orchestra and the choreography is part of what brings our artform to life. Each performance becomes an event in time that will never happen the same way again. We are so fortunate to be able to bring these scores to life with Balanchine’s masterful choreography.”
Andersen is one of only a handful of artists worldwide entrusted by the Balanchine Trust to stage these masterpieces. His understanding of Balanchine’s work draws respect from revered dance critics across the country.
“One of the most striking developments in modern ballet is that there is now a trans-American, even trans-global, Balanchine diaspora,” said former The New York Times dance critic Alastair Macaulay. “Ballet Arizona ranks among the most significant.”
Ballet Arizona’s Opening Night Series Sponsor is F. Francis and Dionne Najafi of Pivotal Foundation. All Balanchine is produced by Bob Benson and sponsored in part by Blue Cross Blue Shield. Raymonda Variations is sponsored in part by Dr. Eleanore Jane Rosenthal. Ticket prices for All Balanchine start at $35, with discounts offered for seniors, students, military, and groups. Tickets can be purchased by calling 602.381.1096 or visiting balletaz.org.