The Music Center announces that it will partner with Los Angeles Ballet to present that company's productions of Agon and Rubies on Saturday evening July 6, free to the public. Both have music by Igor Stravinsky and choreography by George Balanchine.
This performance is part of The Music Center's L.A.'s Rite: Stravinsky, Innovation, and Dance, a festival honoring the 100th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring), and the 10th anniversary of the Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center series. Lorin Johnson, Associate Professor in the Dance Department at California State University, Long Beach, is the artistic advisor for L.A.'s Rite. Agon and Rubies are two of three Balanchine-Stravinsky works in L.A.'s Rite. On July 11, American Ballet Theatre will perform the Apollo as part of its week long engagement July 11-14.
Los Angeles Ballet is led by artistic directors Thordal Christensen (former New York City Ballet dancer and former Director of the Royal Danish Ballet) and Colleen Neary (former New York City Ballet soloist under Balanchine's direction). Christensen and Neary will participate in a discussion about Stravinsky and Balanchine after the performance on July 6.
"Los Angeles Ballet is pleased and honored to present collaborative masterpieces of George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky for this occasion. George Balanchine was the innovator that changed classical dance forever, and is responsible for what it has become today. Together with his dear friend Igor Stravinsky they created works of pure musical and choreographic genius. These ballets remain timeless, an inspiration to us all," said Christensen and Neary.
Renae Williams Niles, Director of Programming for The Music Center, said, "We are thrilled that this partnership with Los Angeles Ballet allows our region's leading proponent of the Balanchine repertoire to be part of L.A.'s Rite. We are equally excited to bring our audience to Grand Park, for a lovely downtown summer evening outdoors with great dancing and great music. We are encouraging everyone to bring a picnic dinner and celebrate Stravinsky under the stars. This also allows us to present three Balanchine-Stravinsky works in less than one week as American Ballet Theatre performs Apollo as part of its performance in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Thursday, July 11."
Stravinsky began writing Agon, a ballet for twelve dancers, in December 1953 and concluded in April 1957; the music was first performed on June 17, 1957 in Los Angeles conducted by Robert Craft, while the first stage performance was given by the New York City Ballet on December 1, 1957 at the City Center of Music and Drama, New York. The composition's long gestation period covers an interesting juncture in Stravinsky's composing career, in which he moved from a diatonic musical language to one based on twelve-tone technique; the music of the ballet thus demonstrates a unique symbiosis of musical idioms.
The ballet has no story, but consists of a series of dance movements in which various groups of dancers interact in pairs, trios, quartets etc. A number of the movements are based on 17th-century French court dances - saraband, galliard and bransle. Agon is the Greek word for contest; the movements of the ballet are named after French court dances. The score was commissioned by New York City Ballet with funds from the Rockefeller Foundation and dedicated to Lincoln Kirstein and Balanchine by the composer. Together, Balanchine and Stravinsky designed the structure of the ballet during the creation of the music.
Rubies, to Stravinsky's Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra, is the second act Jewels, a full-length, three-act plotless ballet that uses the music of three very different composers. Balanchine was inspired by the artistry of jewelry designer Claude Arpels, and chose music revealing the essence of each jewel. He explained: "Of course, I have always liked jewels; after all, I am an Oriental, from Georgia in the Caucasus. I like the color of gems, the beauty of stones, and it was wonderful to see how our costume workshop, under Karinska's direction, came so close to the quality of real stones (which were of course too heavy for the dancers to wear!)." Each section of the ballet is distinct in both music and mood. Rubies is crisp and witty, epitomizing the collaboration of Stravinsky and Balanchine.