George Balanchine choreographed Maurice Ravel’s La valse in 1951. Ravel wrote La valse, poème chorégraphique pour orchestre (a choreographic poem for orchestra), between February 1919 and 1920. The music premiered in Paris on 12 December 1920. It was conceived as a ballet but is now more often heard as a concert work. The work has been described as a tribute to the waltz, and the composer George Benjamin. Continue reading
One of Maurice Bejart’s most noted works, Bolero shows a woman dancing hypnotically on a tabletop. Sylvie Guillem performed its sinuous caressing and beckoning movements as if she were making incantatory gestures as a high priestess of an erotic ritual. Men seated motionless on chairs at the sides of the stage fall under her spell and slowly come to life. As Ravel’s familiar score mounts to a mighty climax, they dance around the table and at last jump on it to join the woman. The ballet is a remarkable image of awakening desire. Continue reading
Maurice Bejart choreographed Bolero in 1960 for the Ballet du XXe Siècle (Ballet of the Twentieth Century). In Bolero Béjart returns to the spirit of his 1959 Rite of Spring, by negating the easy choices of a picturesque exterior in favor of a stripped down simplicity. He gives the central role, the Melody, to a solo dancer and the ensemble is described as the Rhythm. Argentinian dancer Jorge Donn was best known for his work with Bejart. His theatricality and androgynous attack epitomized the 80’s.