WMU News

Balanchine Foundation lecture is Tuesday in Dalton Center

Jan. 29, 2004

KALAMAZOO--A former principal dancer of the New York City Ballet and a writer and critic of dance will combine for unique lecture experience on watching and dancing Balanchine at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3, in the Dalton Center Lecture Hall at Western Michigan University.

Sponsored by the George Balanchine Foundation and the WMU Department of Dance, the lecture is free and open to the public. Merrill Ashley, former principal dancer of the New York Ballet, and Nancy Goldner, dance writer, critic and Balanchine specialist will present "Dancing Balanchine/Watching Balanchine."

The lecture will pair the perspectives of Ashley and Goldner in a dialogue designed to enlighten the audience and enhance the performances of Balanchine's "Who Cares?," a ballet that will be featured in the department's Winter Concert of Dance Feb. 13 and 14. The lecture will specifically address "Who Cares?" from both a technical and an artistic point of view.

Ashley became a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet in 1977. She was one of the last dancers to be personally mentored by Balanchine. Ideal for a Balanchine soloist, her personal style featured amazing speed, clarity, precision, and musicality. She retired from the stage in 1997, but continues to teach at the NYCB. She is the author of "Dancing for Balanchine" and co-authored, co-directed, and danced in the Balanchine Foundation's 10-part video series, "The Balanchine Essays."

Goldner is a former dance critic for such publications as the Christian Science Monitor, The Nation, the New York Times Magazine and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Goldner was a student at Balanchine's School of American Ballet and continued on to study and write about Balanchine's work. She has lectured extensively at colleges and universities, as well as for the general public. She is the author of "The Stravinsky Festival of the New York City Ballet."

Balanchine (1904-83) is cited as one of the great creative geniuses of the 20th century. As the father of the Neo-classical Era, Balanchine revolutionized classical ballet in both his choreographic innovations and in his style of ballet technique, and created two of the world's great ballet institutions: the School of American Ballet in 1934 and the New York City Ballet in 1948. Balanchine was an eclectic, prolific choreographer and his contributions to dance encompassed hundreds of ballet works, many of which are recognized as masterpieces of the 20th century. Major ballet companies- many of them headed by his former dancers- feature his master works in their repertoire.

The George Balanchine Foundation offers the Ashley-Goldner lecture as part of its ongoing education program. The lecture series was inaugurated in 1998, and has been conducted in cooperation with major ballet companies in the United States and Canada.

For more information about the lecture, call the Department of Dance at (269) 387-5830.

Media contact: Liz Caldwell, 269 387-5830

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