Classical Dance Fever

Plié it again, Sam.

That line would’ve been emblazoned in movie history had Bogie worn a tutu in "Casablanca." (Don’t even try to imagine it.) Film fans are forever grateful he didn’t.

Others are better suited to ballet couture. To channel that sardonic saloonkeeper with the macho squint: Of all the dance joints in all the world, they hoofed into ours.

"When George Balanchine would choreograph a ballet, he would do it so easily, it poured out of him," says Sandra Jennings, a Balanchine protege and repetiteur — i.e., a tutor/coach of ballet dancers — for the "All-Balanchine" program performed by Nevada Ballet Theatre today and Saturday, with a live musical assist from the Las Vegas Philharmonic.

Hosting the classical hoofers is the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which keeps its leotards on to also welcome the Russian National Ballet to the campus on Wednesday.

"We always look forward to our tour in the USA," says Sergei Radchenko, artistic director of the Russian company.

Tying together the two troupes’ traditions is Balanchine, who was born Giorgi Melitonis dze Balanchivadze in 1904 in St. Petersburg, where he perfected his technique before defecting to the West in 1924. (He died in 1983.)

"Because I worked with Balanchine, I think I can bring that direct descendent line into the work," says Jennings, also the repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust, who danced for the master as a child before he requested she join the New York City Ballet, where she performed principal and soloist roles for nearly a decade. "When I was in the company, he was at a point where he wanted things very jazzy, so I try to give that influence to the dancers."

On the Balanchine bill are his masterworks "Serenade" (1934), his first ballet born in the United States and set to Tchaikovsky’s "Serenade for Strings"; "Concerto Barocco" (1941), accompanied by Bach’s "Double Violin Concerto in D Minor"; and "Who Cares?" (1970), a Balanchine tribute to Broadway celebrating the music of George Gershwin.

"He was a true genius, and there aren’t that many you come across in your life," Jennings says. "His classes were so simple, and yet they made you so much better as a dancer. I worked with Jerome Robbins and it was so hard for him, even though he was a great choreographer, too. It was work with Jerry. But with Mr. B, it felt so natural."

Most natural for Balanchine were pieces such as "Serenade," because they kept him creatively connected to Tchaikovsky, a muse he particularly cherished. "He related Tchaikovsky to something deep in his soul," Jennings says. "In ‘Themes and Variations’ (his ballet set to the final movement of the composer’s "Suite No. 3 for Orchestra in G Major"), they’d get to a certain section, and he would close his eyes and look up at every performance. There was something about that music that moved him in a certain way that he thought it was almost too beautiful to have steps to."

On an Americanized level of musical inspiration, she says, Gershwin got his ballet shoes a-tappin’ in, shall we say, fascinating rhythm. " ‘Who Cares?’ was one of his favorite ballets. It was so American, so jazzy," she says. "He liked a lot of Gershwin. In class, he was able, within two notes of the pianist playing, to know the tune."

Shifting back to ballet of Balanchine’s native land, the Russian National Ballet’s return engagement brings a fresh presentation. "In Las Vegas, already we have done ‘Swan Lake’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ but this time is a program of highlights," says Radchenko, an acclaimed 25-year veteran of the Bolshoi Ballet. "This will be even better for Las Vegas."

The Russian troupe rose out of the Mikhail Gorbachev perestroika era of the late-1980s, when many of the then-Soviet Union’s top-tier dancers and choreographers felt freer to flex creative muscle, honoring not only Russian ballet principles and traditions, but beginning to absorb outside influences from around the world, including ours, into their repertoire.

"America has influenced us in technique," Radchenko says, "because you find lots of interesting things in the modern dance that we are adopting, using them in classical ballet."

So this week, a Nevada troupe celebrates a Russian-born icon who adored Gershwin while a Russian dance troupe arrives with a style tinged with American inspiration. Now that’s a superpower summit infused with creative glasnost.

Appreciating the dedicated dancers of this week’s balletic smorgasbord — and given his affinity for classic Americana — Balanchine would surely echo the legendary Bogie:

We’ll be lookin’ at you, kids.

Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0256.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
This boozy milkshake is big enough to share with seven of your best friends
Fiddlestix makes an "8 Man Milkshake" that's packed with alcohol. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five Chris Stapleton songs you need to hear
D. Michael Evola opened E-String to make New York style pizza
Shamrock Macarons at Morels at Palazzo
Zuma serves a sushi roll topped with 24-karat gold
La Cirque covers their quail and foie gras in real gold
Jean-Georges Steakhouse seves chocolate gold bars
3 ways you can eat gold in Las Vegas
Artist Kathleen Nathan On The Virtues Of Library Galleries
The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District’s art galleries offers artists a more relaxed vibe for showing their work. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada SPCA Competes In Tournament Of Tails
The NSPCA and its mascot cat, Prince, are competing in an online voting challenge for a $5,000 grand prize.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Eureka's cocktail comes with a "buzz button" that will shock your taste buds
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed Deadline reports that New Line has purchased Chase and Lawrence Konner’s screenplay for their “Sopranos” prequel film. The working title for the prequel is “The Many Saints of Newark.” Chase created the HBO series, which ran for six seasons, and Konner served as a writer. “The Many Saints of Newark” is set during the 1960s riots in the New Jersey city between the African-American and Italian communities. Multiple characters from the series, albeit younger versions, are expected to star in the film. The Sopranos won 21 Primetime Emmy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards during its run.
The Big Bounce America is coming to the Las Vegas Valley
The Big Bounce America. (Courtesy Big Bounce America)
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History According to The Hollywood Reporter, 26.5 million watched the Oscars, a 20 percent drop from last year. The 26.5 million viewers would be an all-time low for the Oscars. Overnight returns had the lengthy ABC telecast averaging a 18.9 rating among households between 8 and 11 p.m. ET. Last year, 32.9 million viewers tuned in to watch the ceremony. The previous low for viewership was 32 million viewers in 2008 when Jon Stewart was host. The Shape of Water picked up an award for Best Picture, while Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand won Best Actor and Actress, respectively.
March First Friday theme is “Think”
First Friday art, culture, music and food event takes place on the first Friday of every month in and around the studios and galleries of the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon)
Cirque’s One Night for One Drop gets ready for the big night
Cirque du Soleil’s “One Night for One Drop” performed a dress rehearsal for the annual benefit show. This year’s show at Mandalay Bay is based on the life of singer-songwriter Jewel. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Kosher Experience provides kosher foods to Las Vegas families
2018-19 Broadway Las Vegas at The Smith Center
Ten touring productions are on The Smith Center’s 2018-19 Broadway Las Vegas season schedule. (The Smith Center)
Life
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like