Apollo. It seems everywhere I look these days, the young greek God of music appears…in some form. Balanchine Trust repetiteur Sandy Jennings is back in Providence this week to work with FBP on one of the world’s first ballets, and rehearsals are flooding me with all kinds of inspiration.
This dreamlike ballet tells the story of a child God born into a man’s body, and the three goddess-muses he encounters. Created for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in 1928, Apollo’s premiere in Paris earned a 24-year-old Balanchine international celebrity, and marked the fruitful start of a lifelong artistic relationship between the choreographer and composer Igor Stravinsky. With the 1951 New York premiere of Mr. B’s “coming of age” ballet (the oldest in NYCB’s repertory) an entirely new, neoclassical balletic style was introduced in the states, changing the course of dance history in a single evening. In reflection, Balanchine regarded the creation of Apollo as a pivotal learning experience in his development as a creator.
“Apollo I look back on as the turning point of my life. In its discipline and restraint, in its sustained oneness of tone and feeling, the score was a revelation. It seemed to tell me that I could dare not to use everything, that I, too, could eliminate.”
The early original staging of this ballet, as well as the subsequent reworkings (how cool is is that Coco Chanel redesigned the costumes in 1929?) call special attention to its historical importance. I can’t help but feel stirred by the timeless nature of this iconic ballet and the impressive list of those who have danced it before me.