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NYCB Vol. 10 No. 10 - The Four Temperaments

In the late 1930s, Balanchine had extra money from his work on Broadway and in Hollywood and used it to commission Paul Hindemith to write him a piece of music for his own amusement. It was completed in 1940, and it wasn’t until 1946 that he choreographed The Four Temperaments to the score. It was the first ballet that he choreographed for Ballet Society.

Mary-Ellen Moylan: “I was asked to join the company [Ballet Society], and Balanchine made the ‘Sanguinic’ section of The Four Temperaments for me. In all my career I have had very few ballets choreographed for me, and this one was really extraordinary. I sensed how great the ballet was even then. My pas de deux had a wonderful feeling of elasticity, fluidity, almost defying gravity.” — “Balanchine’s Ballerinas” by Robert Tracy

Walter Terry also spoke of gravity in his review of the ballet: “Gravity is dealt with excitingly as one dancer defies its commands through aerial action while another plays with it in precarious balance and still another succumbs to its pull and sinks floorboards.” —New York Herald Tribune, 1951

Mary-Ellen Moylan and Fred Danieli. Photos by Larry Colwell, 1947. @libraryofcongress

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