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Suki Schorer to tape video series for Balanchine Foundation

by Mel Schierman
February 15, 2016
Suki Schorer, who danced with New York City Ballet 1959-1972 (from 1968 as principal), will coach excerpts from roles in three ballets choreographed on her by Balanchine: "Harlequinade" (1965), "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" (1962) and "Raymonda Variations" (1961; originally titled "Valses et Variations") for the George Balanchine Foundation’s Interpreters Archive. The aim of this video series is to document insights of originators or important later interpreters of roles in the Balanchine repertory and to preserve and pass on this knowledge to the dancers, scholars, and audiences of today and future generations. Taping will take place February 1, 2016, at New York City Ballet studios in the Rose Building, Lincoln Center, New York.

Schorer will work with Claire Von Enck and Anthony Huxley in the roles of Pierrot and Pierette in "Harlequinade;" Kristen Segin in "Raymonda Variations;" and both Von Enck and Segin as chief Butterfly in "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." The two women are members of the corps and Anthony Huxley is a principal dancer with NYCB. Nancy McDill, solo pianist for the New York City Ballet Orchestra, will play for the coaching sections; freelance dance writer Siobhan Burke will conduct an interview with Schorer. Taping will be supervised by Nancy Reynolds, the Foundation’s Director of Research, assisted by former film professor Virginia Brooks and filmmaker Gus Reed.

For all his renown as creator of important modernist works to “difficult” twentieth-century music, Balanchine was also a delightful storyteller. In "Harlequinade," considered by The New York Times critic Anna Kisselgoff as “a work of charm and cheer” (1/31/72), we see Harlequin and Columbine’s love thwarted at first but triumphant in the end. Schorer danced Columbine’s personal maid Pierrette, who had not only her mistress but also her bumbling husband Pierrot to tend to. A Midsummer Night’s Dream tells of lovers’ quarrels and reconciliations in an enchanted forest. The chief Butterfly, danced by Schorer, with her retinue of butterflies, dwelt in that magic kingdom, in service to Oberon, King of the Fairies. Raymonda Variations has no story, although its score was taken from a full-evening, three-act narrative ballet choreographed by Petipa in 1898 with which Balanchine was undoubtedly familiar. Critic Louis Biancolli called Raymonda Variations “a bouquet of classical steps“ (World Telegram, 12/8/61). In The Times, Clive Barnes characterized it as “nothing but dancing, but dancing of such indescribable happiness . . . that before the work is half-a-minute started the sensitive man of goodwill must inevitably . . . find a secretive smile spreading across his face” (4/5/ 67). Schorer was singled out as a “pixie dancing on a moonbeam.”

In all of these roles, Balanchine choreographed to Schorer’s strength as an allegro dancer.

SUKI SCHORER joined the New York City Ballet in 1959 and was made a principal dancer in 1968. Her repertory included leading roles in "Apollo," "Serenade," "Concerto Barocco," "Symphony in C," "Ivesiana," "Stars and Stripes," "Tarantella" and "Jewels," among others. Balanchine made solo roles on her in "Don Quixote," "Raymonda Variations," "Harlequinade," "La Source," and "A Midsummer Night's Dream." On her retirement in 1972, she became a full-time teacher at the School of American Ballet, where she continues to this day. She has toured the US as a talent scout for the School and assisted Balanchine in seminars for ballet teachers that were organized with support from the Ford Foundation. For the SAB Workshop she stages a Balanchine ballet yearly, guest teaches and lectures widely on Balanchine technique and aesthetics, and gives teachers' seminars. She received the Dance Magazine Award in 1998 and is the author of Suki Schorer on Balanchine Technique (Knopf, 1999). For the George Balanchine Foundation, with co-author Merrill Ashley, she appears in a ten-part video series devoted to details of Balanchine’s approach to classical ballet technique, The Balanchine Essays.

ANTHONY HUXLEY, born in Walnut Creek, CA, studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and the Contra Costa Ballet School before enrolling in SAB full time in 2003. He joined NYCB in 2007 and was promoted to soloist in 2011 and principal dancer in 2015. He has danced leading roles in "Duo Concertant," “Emeralds” and “Rubies” from "Jewels," "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" (Oberon), "Symphony in C" (third movement), and George Balanchine’s "The Nutcracker" (Cavalier, Candy Cane), among many others, as well as Jerome Robbins’ "Goldberg Variations," and Bournonville’s "La Sylphide" (James).

KRISTEN SEGIN, born in Voorhees, NJ, studied dance at the Rock School (Philadelphia) and Pacific Northwest Ballet School (Seattle), and enrolled full-time at the School of American Ballet (SAB) in 2005. She became an apprentice with NYCB in 2008 and a member of the corps de ballet in 2009. Her featured roles include parts in Balanchine’s "Raymonda Variations," "Nutcracker" (Marzipan), and "La Valse;" Peter Martins’s "Sleeping Beauty" and "Swan Lake," and Jerome Robbins’ "The Concert" and "Interplay," among others.

CLAIRE VON ENCK, born in Cleveland, studied dance at the Royal School of Ballet and Cleveland School of Dance before enrolling full-time at SAB in 2012. She became an apprentice with NYCB in 2012 and a member of the corps de ballet in 2013. Her featured roles include Pierrette in "Harlequinade," a Butterfly in "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," and a principal in "Tarantella," all by Balanchine.

SIOBHAN BURKE is a freelance dance critic for The New York Times and a contributing writer for Dance Magazine. She teaches at Barnard College.

NANCY REYNOLDS, a former dancer with New York City Ballet, has been director of research for The George Balanchine Foundation since 1994. She conceived and continues to direct the Video Archives program. As an author, her most recent books are No Fixed Points: Dance in the Twentieth Century (co-authored with Malcolm McCormick) and Remembering Lincoln.

VIRGINIA BROOKS, Professor Emerita of Film at Brooklyn College/CUNY and director of several dance documentaries, has been editor of the Balanchine Foundation's Video Archives since its inception in 1994.

GUS REED, a New York City-based filmmaker, specializes in capturing and editing dance. His recent projects include videos for NYCB's "Project Ballet" initiative, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, Emery LeCrone Dance and the Liz Gerring Dance Company. He has served as associate editor of the Balanchine Foundation's Video Archives since the fall of 2014.

The George Balanchine Foundation

(www.balanchine.org) is a not for profit corporation established in 1983. Its mission is to create programs that educate the public and further Balanchine's work and aesthetic, with the goal of advancing high standards of excellence in dance and its allied arts. Among the Foundation's major initiatives are the Video Archives (http://www.balanchine.org/balanchine/03/gbfvideoarchives.html), in which dancers who worked closely with Balanchine teach and coach their roles to the dancers of today (Interpreters Archive) or recreate Balanchine ballets that are rarely performed and in danger of disappearing (Archive of Lost Choreography). Legendary dancers who have taken part in this project include Alicia Markova, Maria Tallchief, Frederic Franklin, Alicia Alonso, Melissa Hayden, Allegra Kent, Todd Bolender, Merrill Ashley, Suzanne Farrell, Rosella Hightower, Marie-Jeanne, Violette Verdy, Edward Villella, Patricia Wilde, Yvonne Mounsey, and Helgi Tomasson, working with leading dancers from such companies as New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, among others.

In 2007 the Foundation announced the completion of another major initiative, the online publication of the Balanchine Catalogue, a fully searchable database giving first-performance details of all known dances created by Balanchine, supplemented by lists of companies staging the ballets, a bibliography, a videography, reference resources, a database of roles Balanchine performed, and additional related materials. (http://www.balanchine.org/balanchine/03/balanchinecatalogue.html). The project was made possible by a leadership grant from The Jerome Robbins Foundation.
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