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NYCB Vol. 10 No. 14 - Ballo Della Regina

Updated: Apr 4

Merrill Ashley speaking about the jump that has become synonymous with both her the ballet Ballo della Regina :

“Soon Balanchine came to a point where he wanted a big jump, one that would come as a surprise, like a sudden flash. He said I could put in anything I liked. I tried to think of something original, but could come up with nothing better than a grande jeté […] but the element of surprise was missing. It had been seen a thousand times in my big preparation signal that a jump was coming. The following day I remembered that, as a student, I had for fun, practiced a big jeté with a backbend, and with my arms curved back over my head, reaching for my back leg. It was like Maya Plisetskaya’s famous jump in Don Quixote, and I wondered if it would fit in here. This was an old-fashioned Russian virtuoso step, and, given the context, I thought there would be an element of wit in it. I tried it, and Balanchine’s liked it, but the timing was tricky. Just before the jump, I had to negotiate a hairpin turn, and then hide the preparation. I found that if I took off a split second, too soon or too late, I would not hit the high point of the jump on the high note, and much of the brilliant effect would be lost. Although the jump itself post, no problem, the timing took a great deal of rehearsing.”

---Dancing for Balanchine by Merrill Ashley

Photos by Martha Swope, 1978. NYPL


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