(image of Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili in the Joffrey Ballet performance of George Balanchine’s Stravinsky Violin Concerto, which will be one of 4 short works performed during OBT’s spring program, Chromatic Quartet. Delightful side note: Victoria and Temur will be visiting Oregon in June to perform in OBT’s Dance United Fundraiser. Photo by Herbert Migdoll )
One of the great pleasures of bringing a new Balanchine work into the repertoire at Oregon Ballet Theatre is the opportunity to host some of the legendary dancers who now are tasked with “setting the work on” companies.
“Setting” a ballet is a term that essentially means to teach it to a company, but it encompasses so much more than that- because dance is such a nuanced physical art form and because there is no universally agreed upon notation for dance (as there is for music), a dance must be transmitted, in person, from one dancer who performed it to another, based on a combination of memory, reference recordings and experienced expertise.
The processes is an intensely personal one, since the “repetiteurs” (as these dancers are called) often must try to recreate the experience of choreography’s original creation and apply it to a very different time and place . They must also try to interpret the perspective and preferences of the choreographer through the lens of a new set of dancers with different strengths and personalities than the original company on which the work was “set.”
It can also be a pleasure, especially when it includes the chance to work with legendary performers like retired New York City Ballet principal dancers Maria Calegari and Bart Cook, both of whom had close, long term working relationships with Balanchine himself. Our dancers couldn’t be more excited!
Get to know Bart and Maria in this video interview recorded when they were “setting” Stravinsky Violin Concerto on the Dutch National Ballet: