(photo credit: Courtesy)
When you think of the ballet, what comes to mind? For many, ballet is synonymous
with sparkly, glittery, dreamlike scenes where men in tights throw sylph-like
women into the air. The fantasy world created in The Nutcracker and Swan Lake
have invited millions of viewers to believe in a reality in which perfectly
shaped snowflakes fall on beautiful tableaus, a place where princes and fairies
As a departure from that classical world and lunging into the
realm of modern dance, eight principal dancers from the famed New York City
Ballet will perform at the Suzanne Dellal Center as part of Tel Aviv Dance 2010.
The evening will consist of four works by American dance masters George
Balanchine, Twyla Tharp and Tom Gold. In addition, Merrill Ashley, former
soloist with the company and protégé of Balanchine, will teach a professional
workshop in the style of the late ballet master and give a talk about her
experiences working with him.
Ashley holds the record as the
longest-standing company member of the New York City Ballet, boasting a career
of 31 years. She joined as a teenager and was one of the last dancers to be
trained by Balanchine himself. During Ashley’s three decades with the
troupe, Balanchine created several roles specifically for her.
lots of blockbusting moments with the company. I was lucky. Any time Balanchine
choreographed for me was a blockbuster. When I could make him happy; when I
could tell he was proud of me,” she reminisced in a recent interview with The
Although Israeli dancers are trained differently from the
students Ashley instructs as a teaching associate at NYCB, she believes that
Balanchine’s technique can enrich any performer’s skill set.
expect people to be able to do everything I ask. There will be new concepts.
What I’m doing is exposing them to some ideas and suggestions that came from one
of the most influential people in the dance world ever. It will be a trial, an
education to try another way of moving and being aware of some subtleties they
can use in their form of dance,” she said.
George Balanchine, known as
the father of American ballet, was perhaps the most influential proponent of the
art form in the last 100 years. Like Mikhail Baryshnikov, Balanchine used his
skills as a dancer to eject himself from a turmoil-ridden USSR. After years in
Europe, Balanchine put down roots in what would become New York City’s glorious
Lincoln Center. To ensure that the rich education he received in Russia would
live on in the Western hemisphere, Balanchine’s first order of business was to
set up a school, now known as the School of American Ballet, the most
prestigious conservatory for dance study in the US. His company, the New York
City Ballet, is nothing short of an international institution.
its annual performances of The Nutcracker
at Christmas time has become a
national tradition for Americans.
But Balanchine was about a lot more
than tutus and tiaras. “What I like about Balanchine ballets is that there is no
concrete story, no time frame – unlike the Russian ballets,” explained Ashley.
“You could bring yourself into the work. The music, the steps made you feel
They created a mood. You had a picture frame and a lot of paints,
and you have to use certain colors but you get to create pretty
To Dance, an evening with the New York City Ballet dancers,
features two of Balanchine’s works: Apollo
, danced to music by Donald Knaack,
and Tchaikovsky’s Pas de Deux
. In addition, Twyla Tharp’s Junk Duet from the
ballet Known by Heart
by Tom Gold will help show off these phenomenal
To Dance will be performed at The Suzanne Dellal
Center on October 22 at 9 p.m. Merrill Ashley’s workshop will take place at The
Suzanne Dellal Center on October 21 at 5 p.m. and her talk on October 22 at 11
For tickets, call (03) 510-5656 or visit www.suzannedellal.org.il