Music by Dmitry Shostakovich
Choreographer: Alexei Ratmansky
Assistant Choreographer: Tatiana Ratmanskaya
Lighting Designer: Mark Stanley
Costume Designer: Holly Hynes
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Concerto DSCH to the music of Shostakovich’s Second Piano Concerto is Alexei Ratmansky’s seventh ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre. Today the theatre’s repertoire includes three of his “plot” ballets – the witty and ironic Cinderella and The Little Humpbacked Horse and the laconic Anna Karenina. The company also has experience of performing Ratmansky’s plot-less ballets – fifteen years ago he staged the strikingly emotional and stylishly refined Middle Duet and the flowing and heartfelt Le Poème de l'extase. Concerto DSCH , which has no literary plot, is different – joyful, witty and totally filled with movement. It is as if Ratmansky is almost afraid of permitting a musical motif that is suitable for dance. Such miserliness in the movements, such concentration of the choreographic text is beguiling for both the dancers and the audience. Ratmansky is an inarguable master of plot-less dance who can create, with virtuoso ease, forms of virtuoso solos, duets, trios and crowd scenes and, with impeccable taste, fill them with amazing dance combinations. Concerto DSCH is just one such example. Solving the puzzle of his incredibly musical combinations has proved an engaging task for the Mariinsky Ballet.
This ballet was created in 2008 for the New York City Ballet, and it is ideal for a company that is focussed on the instrumentalism of dance and ensemble-performance. Moreover, Ratmansky refers to it as a “portrait of that company”. On the other hand, the text of Concerto DSCH and the style of the scenes it contains are full of references to Soviet realities that cannot be fully understood by American performers, while for Russian dancers and audiences it brings a whole bag of associations and raises an emotional response on more than just the choreographic content. For those unfamiliar with Soviet sculpture and have no idea of the athletics displays and well-loved-techniques of Soviet cinema from the 1920s–50s, many of Ratmansky’s high supports are simply conjured-up poses, and the gestures mere original ideas of a ballet-master. To feel and convey the energetic purposefulness of an adagio one has to see at least a few Soviet films that celebrate the sincere simplicity of meetings in the evening between loves who live next door, where a shyly stolen kiss was the limit of what was allowed. And in the energetic drive of the final crowd scene, breathing with its life-giving optimism, one can recognise the generally-accepted Soviet concept about doubts of a happy future.
Ratmansky is obviously captivated by Shostakovich’s music and the spirit of his time, and in his ballet he tenderly revives this. In the title of his ballet the choreographer uses the composer’s musical autograph (D.Sch in the German musical notation), which has no direct link to the Second Concerto but which does identify with the ballet’s style. Just like Balanchine, paying tribute to the Imperial Russian Stage, named his own ballet to piano the music Ballet Imperial by Tchaikovsky.
Concerto DSCH is Ratmansky’s second “Russian” ballet, staged abroad and brought to a Russian theatre in which much can only be fully felt and understood by Russian performers. The first was the Russian Seasons (also created with NYCB) that featured motifs of Russian folklore. Apparently paradoxically to westerns critics, the choreographer’s journey across the ocean in search of his cultural roots allowed him to distance himself from the strong traditions of the stage presence of those cultural roots and has helped him present them in a new light. With Concerto DSCH it was the same story. The production for NYCB demonstrated Ratmansky’s talent in creating varied and engaging combinations, yet always logical compositional constructions and drawings, enchanting with the free nature of his dance. The same production for the Mariinsky Theatre also brought to light a subtle stylist who can put an entire history of the Soviet era into a one-act ballet.
Premiere: 28 May 2008, New York State Theater, New York
Premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre: 4 July 2013
Running time: 20 minutes
Dmitri Shostakovich was a fan of ballet and composed numerous dance scores in the 1930s, including The Bolt and The Bright Stream. Alexei Ratmansky has choreographed both of those works for the Bolshoi Ballet, and for New York City Ballet's 2008 spring season, Ratmansky created another work to a score by Shostakovich, this time the Piano Concerto No. 2. Shostakovich wrote the concerto in 1957 as a birthday gift for his 19-year-old son Maxim, and it displays the composer's optimistic energy after the repressions of the Stalinist era. The opening allegro evokes a brisk military march with the piano referencing the British melody Drunken Sailor. By contrast, the andante movement basks in Russian soulfulness for the strings, piano, and solo horn. The brief, invigorating allegro finale takes on a 7/8 meter as the entire orchestra sprints to the finish. The ballet's title refers to a musical motif used by Shostakovich to represent himself, with four notes that, when written in German notation, stand in for his initials in the German spelling (D. Sch.).
Age category 12+
In the Night
Music by Frédéric Chopin
Choreography by Jerome Robbins (1970)
Staged by Ben Huys
Costumes by Anthony Dowell
Lighting by Jennifer Tipton
Recreated by Nicole Pearce
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Prior to the appearance of this ballet in the Mariinsky Theatre repertoire, Russian audiences knew Jerome Robbins only as a hypostasis – Robbins-the-choreographer-of-musicals, Robbins-the-Broadway-triumph. Not for his “live” productions, of course, but rather for his film version of Westside Story, which caused a veritable furore in the cinemas of the Soviet Union. In 1992, the Mariinsky Theatre brought another Robbins to the country – Robbins the lyricist and the intellectual, one of the two leading figures at New York City Ballet. The man who took Chopin’s nocturnes and in 1970 created In the Night – a short ballet for three couples. Initially they appear on stage in turn, while in the finale they all dance at the same time. Each of the couples offers their own version of the dialogue between man and woman – and, impeccably reproducing the choreographic scene, all the performers bring their own ideas of paired relationships to these dialogues. The good-natured coquetry and the claims of divine service, competing in the dazzle and the childlike thirst for trust – all different people, and so every time In the Night looks just that little bit different from the previous display.
World premiere: 29 January 1970, New York City Ballet, New York
Premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre: 18 March 1992
Premiere of the revival: 5 May 2009
Running time 25 minutes
Performed by permission of The Robbins Rights Trust
Age category 6+
Symphony in C
Music by Georges Bizet (Symphony No. 1 in C)
Choreography by George Balanchine (1947)
Staging by Colleen Neary
Costume design by Irina Press
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
George Balanchine staged one of his most famous ballets for the company of the Opéra de Paris in 1947. Invited from beyond the ocean, the choreographer, in executing the French commission, was absolutely sure of himself: in this new work, as in most mature ballets by Balanchine, there was no plot, there were no human passions behind the dance, and only the music, its rhythm and structure determined the development of the choreographic image. The character of the dance was dictated by Georges Bizet’s youthful Symphony in C Major. Its sparkling lightness provided the name of the work – Le Palais de cristal. It is true that soon after the ballet was brought to New York the invented title became forgotten, and for over half a century many leading ballet companies throughout the world have been proud to have Balanchine’s Symphony in C in their repertoires. This ballet is ideal for showcasing a company’s merits: the four parts of the ballet are staged for four pairs of soloists, and in this ballet dancers can dazzlingly show off their skills and take on the incredibly complex fiorituri of the shading in the allegro, and proudly and majestically “sail” into the adagio.
World premiere: 28 July 1947, Théâtre National de l'Opéra, Paris
Premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre: 9 February 1996
Running time: 40 minutes
The ballet of George Balanchine Symphony in C is presented by arrangement with The George Balanchine Trust and has been produced in accordance with the Balanchine Style® and Balanchine Technique® service standards established and provided by the Trust
The Mariinsky Theatre would like to express its gratitude to Mrs Bettina von Siemens for her support in bringing the “Ballets of George Balanchine” project to life
Age category 6+