The buzz on the PBS American Masters documentary about our brilliant American choreographer Jerome Robbins is very positive. I’m looking forward to it so much. Air time: Wednesday evening, February 18 @ 9 pm.
Apropos Robbins, while in Paris in 2002 I bumped completely by accident I into a dance-film festival taking place in the downstairs screening room of the Centre Pompidou.
There I saw a documentary called Violette et Mister B. The film shows the great French-born ballerina of New York City Ballet, Violette Verdy (deliciously costumed at right), coaching dancers from Paris Opera Ballet in works by Balanchine and Robbins. During the screening I wept with joy at my good fortune to see this marvelous film in Paris!
In the film clip, you get to see Violette coach Isabelle Guerin in Robbins’s masterpiece, Dances at a Gathering, set to piano music of Chopin. Watch it here.
[Ballet beginners: if you want to see what an exquisite French ballerina looks like up close, enjoy Isabelle Guerin!]
[French speakers: What about when Violette says, "patinage artistique"? ]
I saw the effervescent Violette Verdy dance many, many times with NYCB. She was a very great trouper and her performances never disappointed. The opposite: a stellar dancer, a huge radiant star. She was in original cast of Dances (1969), as was Edward Villella. His company, Miami City Ballet, performs the work very well and he discussed it when I interviewed him in 2006.
[Breaking news: Violette Verdy to be granted French Chevalier de l'Ordre du Légion d'Honneur, the nation's highest award, this June.]