Tharp the Bold

Looking Tharp: Damian Woetzel and Miranda Weese in The Beethoven Seventh
photo: Paul Kolnik
Looking Tharp: Damian Woetzel and Miranda Weese in The Beethoven Seventh

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New York City Ballet
New York State Theater
Through February 27

Suki Schorer on Balanchine Technique
By Suki Schorer with Russell Lee
Photographs by Carol Rosegg
Alfred A. Knopf, $40

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** This kind of daring—expanding classical ideals of balance and proportion while affirming them—was one of Balanchine's missions. So was never stinting. "What are you saving yourself for?" he'd challenge a dancer in class. "Do! Now is the time! Relax is for the grave, dear." We hear his voice constantly in a splendid new book. Suki Schorer on Balanchine Technique is more than a lucid illustrated explication of exercises. Through anecdotes, advice, and images remembered from Schorer's years as a company dancer and teacher, it reveals how Balanchine trained dancers to move bigger and faster than one would think possible. Here was a man who was, in a sense, breeding orchids—extreme, unnatural, ravishing blooms—yet he used down-to-earth imagery. The dancers were to perform rond de jambe par terre as if stirring soup; that way they'd remember that the leg should trace a full circle on the floor. Reading Balanchine's ideas on the simplest barrework—and how music affects the performance of it—you understand the gestation of his company's greatness and the vision that made it an instrument not only for his own choreography, but for artists such as Robbins and Tharp.

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