It?s easy enough to talk about how Balanchine transformed ballet technique. Sandra Kurtz, in this review of Pacific Northwest Ballet for the Seattle Weekly, shows it vividly. Then she goes on to consider PNB?s stewardship of the Balanchine legacy:

?Dance is most clearly preserved in the living bodies of dancers, not in books or on films or videotapes. Even before Balanchine’s death in 1983, there was apprehension about preserving his works. Twenty-one years later, some critics swear that they are still performed as he would have liked; others find fault on a regular basis, saying that the New York City Ballet, the logical caretaker of his legacy, has not lived up to its responsibility, and look to other artistic directors and companies to preserve the work. PNB co-director Francia Russell is one often looked to in this regard. Both she and co-director Kent Stowell danced with the New York City Ballet, but it is Russell who has had the main responsibility of protecting Balanchine’s legacy here, bringing not just his choreography but also his philosophy of dance into the studio every day.

Now that she and husband Stowell are retiring from the PNB leadership, continuing the tradition will fall most likely to Peter Boal, an acclaimed dancer with the New York City Ballet. Boal admits that his connection with the Balanchine heritage has been through the work, not the man. As time passes, and the generation that had firsthand connections moves on, Boal’s experience will be the more common one. Just as we know Bach and Shakespeare better through their art than through their biographies, with time Balanchine’s legacy will need to be constantly rediscovered inside his ballets.?

Link via Arts Journal.

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