George Balanchine dances in British film from 1929 1

Dance · Film

What we have here is not “Apollo.” That’s putting it mildly. But it’s still a very amusing, even amazing, piece of historic dance footage that’s making the rounds on Facebook. George Balanchine himself dances in a rather crude bit of his own choreography “Dark Red Roses,” in a British-made early talkie. Appearing in the pas de trois with Mr. B are his Ballets Russes mates, Anton Dolin and Lydia Lopokova.

The comparison to “Apollo” is not gratuitous. Balanchine’s groundbreaking ballet, a rarefied work of art made by the then-24-year-old choreographer for his boss Sergei Diaghilev, preceded “Dark Red Roses” by only a year or so. The contrast in choreography for the staged “Apollo” and what’s seen in “Dark” is striking.

I interpret the difference as the lower value placed on film versus live performance. Probably the trio blocked out the “Dark Red Rose” bit fifteen minutes before filming it.

Thank you Nick Wallace Smith, I enjoy your posts on youtube. Thank you Elizabeth Zimmer.

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One comment on “George Balanchine dances in British film from 1929

  1. Shea New Apr 17,2012 11:55 am

    Thanks Debra for sharing this piece of history. How very rare to see Balanchine dance. I will share the video with my history of dance students as we are studying the Ballet Russe at this moment.

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