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Concerto Barocco [1976]

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0469
Run Time
0h 17m 53s
Date Produced
"Concerto Barocco" is a ballet choreographed by George Balanchine to Johann Sebastian Bach's Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins, originally for the School of American Ballet. It was premiered by the American Ballet on June 27, 1941 at the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Its US premiere, by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, occurred on September 9, 1945 at the New York City Center; it was repremiered by the New York City Ballet on October 11, 1948 in the same theater. 

This video represents a rehearsal of the "Concerto Barocco" by the Chicago Ballet in practice clothes, likely prior to their February 1976 performances of it. The video is very dark and difficult to make out. Though their performances of it occurred in 1976, the Chicago Ballet appears to have rehearsed the original version of the ballet, with a very brisk second movement (it was slowed down with the 1948 re-premiere by the NYCB).
The video begins with nearly 30 seconds of static before settling into a shot of a ballet studio where eight female dancers in two rows begin moving through various formations. As they dance, a voice (that sounds like Ruth Page's) instructs and coaches them. When they reach their original two rows again, a soloist enters down the center. After she dances for a few moments, she is joined by a second who dances her own solo. Then the whole group resumes their ensemble dance. As it continues, the newest/center couple dances different choreography from the rest. Eventually, at the end of this first movement, a 'final' pose is struck in which the eight original dancers form a "V" around the two soloists; all but the soloists stand in a pliéd tendu devant, bent over in a cambré forward.

As the second movement begins, the dancers all weave between one another into another "V" and a male dancer enters to partner one of the soloists (the other exits). In dancing together, the couple also weaves through the V of dancers. Then, as they continue their pas de deux, half of the other dancers duck between them, one at a time. The other half slowly follows them in a row, joining the male dancer for a deep group-cambré back.  These four then join two from the other half, while the couple joins the remaining two dancers for more weaving. After more weaving by the whole group together, the couple engages in a series of lifts and turns that travel back and forth across the stage while the rest dance behind them. Eventually, the male dancer exits and his partner is rejoined by the other female soloist as all re-strike the poses from the "V" formation at the end of the first movement. She once again exits and the male reenters, and the couple reprises the beginning of the movement. Finally, after the group spreads out and follows the couple's lead in turning in place, the movement ends and the couple exits.

To begin the third movement, the eight corps dancers begin moving in groups of two, often just one "count" ahead of or behind the nearest other couple--the choreography in this section thus exhibits something of a cascade effect. This continues in a four-armed 'pinwheel' formation, during which the two female soloists return and dance in turns as well. After a series of variations on this theme, the soloists exit for a few moments. The rest break more obviously into twos again, and as they spread out the soloists return to dance at center. They remain there only briefly, however, and exit again just before the eight corps dancers reassemble themselves into a row. While in the row, they continue to dance in twos. One of the soloists dances across the stage in front of them, and they begin to break away. They form a wide "V" around the soloist at center, who is soon once again joined by the other soloist. The two dance a variation in front together while the others become a human chain moving back and forth behind them. At times, the group's choreography reflects the soloists'. All then move together for an ensemble segment with very precise 'off' counts. The soloists soon separate again but then return to the group for the finale: a unison ensemble dance which ends with all ten female dancers in a kneeling position. After holding the position for a moment, many of the tired dancers begin to break character by collapsing to the ground. The video ends there.
Additional Credit
Bach, Johann Sebastian (is composer)
Balanchine, George (is choreographer)