Serenade: C’est un ballet abstrait.

Dance · Ideas & Opinion

Everything sounds better in French. That’s a given. But beyond sounding beautiful, the lovely and poetic program note posted below tackles the hard job of putting the ephemeral into words.

What’s the subject? “Serenade,” a ballet that in its making, and in the viewing of it, touches God.

C’est un ballet abstrait. C’est- á-dire, sans intention narrative … My mawkish English translation runs below the program, at bottom.

Thank you to former ballerina, Edith Brozak McMann, for posting New York City Ballet memorabilia on Facebook for the others to enjoy. Click on the backstage photo of the ballet, above left, and drink in “Serenade’s” extreme spirituality. It’s a connoisseur’s photo.

The ballet, made on the Serenade for Strings by Tchaikovsky, is the first work created by Balanchine in the United States (1934). It is an abstract ballet, that is to say, it lacks a narrative intention: The soloists and the evolution of the corps de ballet adapt themselves to the sections of Tchaikovsky in a manner of forming a moving counterpoint that is uninterrupted in the sense that it remains vague, which isn’t [any] less communicative inasmuch as the romantic abstractions that it evokes are clear: fate, love, yearning for a higher existence, and death.

Program is clickable
from NYCB Paris performances, possibly ’52 or ’55
They call Tchaikovsky “Pierre”!!
Thank you, Mr. Balanchine, for making Serenade.

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