From The Four Temperaments (1946), made by New York City Ballet co-founder George Balanchine. In reference to medieval “humors” or personality types: choleric, sanguine, melancholic, phlegmatic. (Aggressive, outgoing, thoughtful, peaceful.) Among Balanchine’s earliest experiments. Classical steps with lean, angular style.
From Act III of Le Corsaire (The Pirate), finalized in 1899 and choreographed by “the father of classical ballet,” Marius Petipa. A dance for three harem slaves; a proper example of Petipa’s aesthetic: steely technique meets inventive steps. Three female soloists, showcasing strength and delicacy at once.
Set to Duke Ellington jazz in 1979, by OBT founding resident choreographer Dennis Spaight. Joyous and jazzy; fluid and sassy. Oregon ArtsWatch critic Martha Ullman West called watching Spaight “a gift.” Inspired by Ellington – “America’s most important composer” – whose music is “a standard [of our] cultural heritage.”
Jewels Pas de Quatre
From Act 3 of The Sleeping Beauty (1890), by Petipa, the most influential choreographer in ballet history. Set to Tchaikovsky, the most popular Russian composer in classical music. Essential, challenging, and brilliant. Both ballet and theatre, with a story known the world over. The scene: a royal wedding with fairies as guests!
Set to soul-stirring songs by Haitian actress-singer Toto Bissainthe. Choreographed in 1990 by one of the world’s best: Spanish artistic director Nacho Duato. A powerful appeal for human rights, a memory of Haitian slaves, and a longing for freedom. Traditional yet contemporary; resistance transformed into creation.
Initially choreographed by Balanchine for Paris Opéra Ballet’s Faust (1975). A scene at the beginning of the opera’s final act: Mephistopheles (the devil’s servant) brings Faust (a scholar) to watch May Day, when dead souls wander. Here, wild women soar across stage; as Balanchine once famously said, “Ballet is woman.”