GEORGE BALANCHINE’S CONCERTO BAROCCO

Yesterday, I attended a performance of George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco at the New York City Ballet. It was exhilarating and divine! Balanchine is considered the most influential choreographer of the 20th century. Russian by birth, he was brought to America by Lincoln Kirstein and in 1934 they opened the School of American Ballet. In 1948, they co-founded The New York City Ballet which quickly became know for its athletic and contemporary style. Their inaugural performance was the Concerto Barocco, Orpheus, and Symphony in C.  It is considered the quintessential Balanchine ballet of its period, its manner entirely pure, its choreography no more, and no less, than an ideal response to its score. The NYCB dancers are known for their linear purity, sharpness of attack, and overall speed and musicality.

One of my favourite parts of attending the ballet is the crowd. Mostly older, affluent, white, and sporting fancy threads on a Sunday afternoon, they are rabid supporters of institutions like this. Of course there were moms there with their young sons and daughters, aspiring ballerinas noticeable in their tightly drawn buns and cigarette pants, and New York intellectuals bobbing their heads to Bach’s concerto while the stunning ballerinas leapt across the stage.

And at the center of it all was the magnificent ballerina, Sara Mearns. This profile gives you a glimpse into this ballerina’s one of a kind virtuosity.

“Ms. Mearns gives the single greatest ballerina performance of our era — hurling out fantastically bold, amazingly precise, rivetingly complex dance coloratura with musical blaze and rich colors. I say “hurling out” — this is exultant, space-filling dancing, with a strong element of swagger — but I don’t underestimate the twinkling wit of Ms. Mearns’s delivery, the driving impulsiveness of her self-contradictory turns to right and left, the subtleties of her unexpected pauses.”

Poetry, athleticism, and musicality. I was swooning when I left.