Balanchine long admired Duo Concertant and finally choreographed the score as a pas de deux for New York City Ballet’s historic 1972 Stravinsky Festival. Nancy Reynolds, Director of Research for The George Balanchine Foundation, writes, “Duo Concertant was seen as the essence of what the festival was all about: it was not only a close union of dance with music, dancers with musicians (pianist and violinist were on the stage); here, the music actually penetrated the dancing, and did not merely accompany it: the dancers stood still at times and visibly listened. And in its intimacy, the ballet recalled the very personal nature of the fifty-year collaboration that the festival both celebrated and prolonged.”
The ballet was made on New York City Ballet principal dancers Kay Mazzo and Peter Martins. Mazzo has written: “Lincoln Kirstein called Duo Concertant ‘a little jewel,’ and Jerome Robbins said at the premiere that he was amazed Mr. B had the nerve to have the dancers just listen to the music for the whole first movement. Mr. B said, ‘Aha, dear, that’s the point of all dancing. You must first listen to the music and really hear, and then you will understand it and appreciate it. You see the music in the steps, but first you must hear the music!’ I believe Mr. B was very proud of this beautiful ballet and felt he was really delivering the message that he firmly believed. At the end of the ballet, he said to me that it showed that ballet to him was woman, that she was on a pedestal and that was how he wanted his women to be.”
Notes compiled by Doug Fullington.