Square Dance

Music: Antonio Vivaldi (L'estro Armonica, Op. 3, No. 10, RV 580 and No. 12, RV 265) and Arcangelo Corelli (Sarabanda, Badinerie e Giga, i.e., Sonatas for Violin and Continuo, Op. 5, No. 9 [Giga] and No. 11 [Gavotta])
Choreography: George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Staging: Peter Boal
Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli
Duration: 25 minutes
Premiere: November 21, 1957; New York City Ballet; revised May 20, 1976
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: March 5, 1981; restaged September 20, 2007

PNB Company dancers in Square Dance. Photo © Angela Sterling

Balanchine's Square Dance combines classical ballet, 17th-century court dance, and American country dancing. In the original 1957 production, the musicians were on stage and a square dance caller was brought in to call out the steps. Balanchine revived Square Dance in 1976, dispensing with the caller, putting the orchestra in the pit, and adding a celebrated solo for the principal male dancer.

Writing about Square Dance, Balanchine explained, "Ballet and other forms of dance of course can be traced back to folk dance. I have always liked watching American folk dances, especially in my trips to the West, and it occurred to me that it would be possible to combine these two different types of dance, the folk and the classic, in one work. To show how close the two really are, we chose old music also based on ancient dances. The spirit and nerve required for superb dancing are close to what we always want in ballet performances, which is one way perhaps of explaining why so many American dancers are so gifted. The invention, its superb preparation for risks, and its high spirits are some of the things I was trying to show in this ballet."

Recommended Listening:
Vivaldi: L'Estro Armonico, Op. 3 - Vol. 2:, Concertos Nos. 7-12, Accademia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone, Arts Music 47647
Corelli: Violin Sonatas, Op. 5, Locatelli Trio, Hyperion CDA 66381/82


Notes by Marsha Bennion and Doug Fullington.

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