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Balanchine Expertise Expands at NZ School of Dance

Balanchine Expertise Expands at NZ School of Dance

One of the world's best re-creators of ballets by the legendary choreographer George Balanchine is in New Zealand to teach students at The New Zealand School of Dance.

Victoria Simon of The George Balanchine Trust arrived in this country on Sunday and is conducting intensive classes for School of Dance pupils all week. She has staged over 25 Balanchine ballets for more than 80 companies on every continent in the world and says it is unusual for students of a school to be taught Balanchine ballets.

"It's great to see the students' eyes open up to something new they haven't experienced in their bodies before," said Victoria Simon.

A rehearsal showing Ms Simon's work will be demonstrated to the American Ambassador, Charles Swindells, from 10am on Friday 2 May. The media is invited to attend.

Balanchine revolutionized the look of classical ballet by heightening, quickening, expanding and streamlining the fundamentals of the 400-year-old language of academic dance. All his ballets are copyrighted and cannot be performed without special quality checks and permission from the Trust.

Ms Simon is teaching the master's Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and the Andante from Divertimento No.15, which will form part of the Graduation Season programme in November.

"Balanchine ballets are very challenging and have to be done exactly as choreographed and the NZ School of Dance really comes through," said Ms Simon.

The bravura Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux makes virtuosity look like fun. The music was originally intended for the pas de deux in Act III of Swan Lake but wasn't published with the rest of the score. Instead it remained unnoticed in the Tchaikovsky Museum in Klin until it was discovered by the Tchaikovsky Foundation of New York and was then choreographed by Balanchine.

Divertimento No. 15 shows classical technique at its most refined and pure and is danced to the beautiful music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

This is Ms Simon's third visit to the New Zealand School of Dance and the two new works bring the school's repertoire of Balanchine pieces to six. She is visiting the school after staging The Four Temperaments for the Australian Ballet.

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