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NYCB Vol. 3 No. 31 - Apollo

Updated: Apr 4

Serge Lifar Photo by Roger Violett, 1928

(6/6) “I think Apollo is the best role for a male dancer that has ever been choreographed, and I think it has more in it than any dancer is capable of doing. Trying to achieve what’s in it brings the best out of you. You have to be a classical dancer and also a modern dancer, and it’s fantastically challenging athletically”—Jacques D’Amboise, 1979.

I think this is a pretty well-known story, but in case you haven’t heard it: “In Apollo’s second variation, Balanchine hit on a startling image to convey that the god is conscious of his divinity. Twice Apollo stands in fourth position, forward left leg bent, left arm behind his back with clenched fist visible to his right, and with the right arm extended upward, the fingers of the right hand splayed like rays of light. Then, as the right fist clenches, the fingers of the left splay out. On—off; on—off. Balanchine said this idea came to him from watching an electric sign in Picadilly Circus.”—Richard Buckle in Ballet Master: George Balanchine

(top, left) Peter Boal. Jack Mitchell, 1990.

(top, center) Jacques D’Amboise. via NYCB

(top, right) Edward Villella, 1950s. Photo by Martha Swope

(bottom, left) Sean Lavery, 1986. Photo by Martha Swope

(bottom, center) Mikhail Baryshnikov, 1979. Photo by Martha Swope

(bottom, right) Peter Martins, 1982. Photo by Martha Swope


(7/6 bonus!) “I am a servant, and I was born to do this thing, And God gave me—providence—these eyes and ears. That’s what you’re to do, and I do it.” — Balanchine

“I regard my talents as God-given, and I have always prayed to Him for strength to use them. When in nearly childhood I discovered that I had been made the custodian of musical aptitudes, I pledged myself to God to be worth of their development.“ — Stravinsky

*The famous sunburst wasn’t always the ending pose. In the original production Apollo and the muses climbed a mountain at the end, and the later productions, a staircase. When Balanchine removed the Birth Scene and all scenery, he took the sunburst poses from earlier in the ballet and placed it at the end.

(top, left) Serge Lifar. 1928. Original end pose

(top, center) Andre Eglevsky

(top, right) Jacques D’Amboise, Diana Adams, 195?. Photo by Fred Fehl.

(bottom right) Peter Martins, Suzanne Farrell, 1980. Photo by Martha Swope (bottom, center) Ib Andersen, 1980s. Photographer unknown

(bottom, left) Sean Lavery, Heather Watts,1986. Photo by Martha Swope


Check out the Apollo Ornament in the shop:

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