From left: Allegra Kent, Kay Mazzo, Gloria Govrin, Merrill Ashley and Wendy Whelan. Eduard Patino, Courtesy NDI.

What to Watch: Wendy Whelan in Conversation With Four Famous Balanchine Ballerinas

On Monday evening, four 20th century New York City Ballet stars joined Wendy Whelan in conversation for an event titled Balanchine's Ballerinas hosted by National Dance Institute, the dance education organization that former NYCB dancer Jacques d'Amboise founded in 1976. D'Amboise introduced the four ballerinas taking the stage as dancers who "graced Balanchine and were graced by him." Hearing the ensuing conversation between Wendy Whelan and Allegra Kent, Kay Mazzo, Gloria Govrin and Merrill Ashley proved just that; the sense of inspiration that George Balanchine gleaned from his muses, and the deep appreciation he had for each individual's unique traits.


Former NYCB dancers Wendy Whelan, Allegra Kent, Kay Mazzo, Gloria Govrin, Merrill Ashley and Jacques d'Amboise

Eduardo Patino, Courtesy NDI

The evening wove a panel discussion moderated by Whelan together with archival video footage and performances by current NYCB and American Ballet Theatre dancers in roles made famous by the older generation. A particularly striking moment came when seeing NYCB principals Sterling Hyltin and Jared Angle dancing excerpts from Balanchine's 1972 Duo Concertant; the live performance transitioned seamlessly into a video recording of Mazzo and Peter Martins, the piece's originators, reminding the viewers of the true timelessness of Balanchine's oeuvre.

Sterling Hyltin and Jared Angle dancing Duo Concertant

Eduardo Patino, Courtesy NDI

Highlights of the panel discussion (available below) include each ballerina identifying the qualities Balanchine looked for in his company members, their favorite roles and their advice for young dancers. They also share priceless anecdotes about adjusting to company class, falling onstage during premieres, Balanchine as a "master psychologist," and more. Balanchine lovers and dance history fans alike won't want to miss this; check it out now!

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Hi Everyone,

These are challenging times. The social distancing measures brought about by COVID-19 has likely meant that your regular ballet training has been interrupted, while your performances, competitions—even auditions—have been cancelled. You may be feeling anxious about what the future holds, not only for you but for the dance industry. And that's perfectly understandable.

As you adjust to taking virtual ballet class from your living rooms, we here at Pointe are adjusting to working remotely from our living rooms. We've had to get a little creative, especially as we put our Summer Issue together, but like you we're taking full advantage of modern technology. Sure, it's a little inconvenient sometimes, but we're finding our groove.

And we know that you will, too. We've been utterly inspired by how the dance community has rallied together, from ballet stars giving online classes to companies streaming their performances to the flood of artist resources popping up. We've loved watching you dance from your kitchens. And we want to help keep this spirit alive. That's why Pointe and all of our Dance Media sister publications are working nonstop to produce and cross-post stories to help you navigate this crisis. We're all in this together.

We also want to hear from you! Send us a message on social media, or email me directly at abrandt@dancemedia.com. Tell us how you're doing, send us your ideas and show us your dance moves. Let the collective love we share for our beloved art form spark the light at the end of the tunnel—we will come out the other side soon enough.

Best wishes,

Amy

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