George Balanchine

Balanchine and the Paris Opera

a Photo retrospective

By Octave 08 February 2020


The Paris Opera has always maintained close ties with George Balanchine. As early as 1947, the choreographer was invited to come and stage three of his ballets; an occasion for which he also created Le Palais de Cristal (Symphony in C). Today, over thirty of his works feature in the Paris Opera Ballet’s repertoire, each illustrating the different styles and inspirations of the neoclassical master.

From narrative ballets to abstract pieces, the choreographer’s body of work is rich and varied. Always in total symbiosis with the score, his ballets allow us to hear the dance and see the music. Balanchine's style - he was trained in the Russian technique by the greatest ballet masters - is not monolithic and contains numerous references, evoking both the Imperial Ballet and character dances. Balanchine also retained a penchant for a corps de ballet made up of numerous performers; he liked the interlacing arms that linked the dancers together as their legs criss-crossed across the stage. The skillful convolutions of his pas de deux are also evident in his “black and white” ballets. Here, there are no sets or costumes: purity of movement has pride of place.

Performing three works of pure dance from Balanchine’s first American period - Sérénade, Concerto Barocco et Les Quatre Tempéraments – on the stage of the Opéra Bastille (until April 1st, 2020), the Paris Opera Ballet continues to pay tribute to a great choreographer whose style has never ceased to delight the public.

“It can never be said that my ballets are abstract. They are immersed in the utilisation of the body, the person and the human soul.” George Balanchine, conversation with Violette Verdy

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