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Jacobs School of Music

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Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Friday, March 26, 2010

Distinguished Professor Violette Verdy to tape video series for Balanchine Foundation

March 26, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Distinguished Professor Violette Verdy and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, former chair of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department -- both former principal dancers with New York City Ballet -- will teach and coach their roles in Liebeslieder Walzer for The George Balanchine Foundation's Video Archives.

Taping over a two-day period will commence Sunday, March 28, in New York City Ballet studios in the Rose Building, Lincoln Center, New York. Verdy danced in the ballet's premiere in 1960, partnered by Nicholas Magallanes; Bonnefoux was her partner in performances in the 1970s.

The purpose of the series is to document the viewpoints of dancers on whom Balanchine choreographed his ballets, capturing his intentions at the time of creation through coaching sessions with dancers of today.

Verdy and Bonnefoux will work with Jennie Somogyi and Sébastien Marcovici, both current principals with New York City Ballet. Nancy Reynolds, a dance historian and the Foundation's Director of Research, will supervise the project and conduct interview segments with the two coaches.

Liebeslieder Walzer, a lengthy two-part ballet for four couples, with four singers and two pianists also on stage, is danced solely to Brahms waltzes. When first announced, it was considered a daring choice on Balanchine's part. But the ballet was immediately greeted as a masterpiece, inspiring such comments as "Balanchine has captured and epitomized the essence of the waltz for all time" (Arthur Todd) and "His variations on the waltz reach into infinity" (P. W. Manchester).

Times critic John Martin went so far as to observe that, "After an hour and five minutes of sheer waltzing, and by only four couples at that, one's major reaction was to wonder if perhaps Brahms had not still another opus hidden away somewhere" (Nov. 23, 1960).

Other critics noted that the ballet also dealt with the deepest of emotions; passion, sorrow and joy lay just beneath the surface.

Referring to both aspects of the work, Verdy recalled, "It is so incredibly complete in whatever concerns the business of waltzes forever and the possibilities of relationships between men and women of a particular time in a particular situation. I think the exploration, the confession, is total."