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NYCB Vol. 4 No. 16 - Episodes

The ballet Episodes was originally a collaboration between Balanchine and Martha Graham. She choreographed the first section and Balanchine choreographed the second. After its premiere in the 1959-60 season, Graham's first section was dropped and now just the second half is performed.

Within Balanchine's half, there were 5 sections (now only 4). Each represented here by one photo of the original cast and a brief description by Times critic John Martin which appeared in the papers during the 1959 season.

1. Symphony, op. 21

Danced by Violette Verdy and Jonathan Watts

“Gradually we become conscious that we have passed into a new dimension of movement.”

Photo by Martha Swope, 1963

2. Five Pieces, op. 10

Danced by Diana Adams and Jacques d’Amboise

“We are suddenly in a different stratum of experience. […] It is two souls struggling for identity, in a realm with no orientations, no procedural logic or precedent, no sequence of reaction to action.

Photo by Martha Swope, 1964

3. Concerto, op. 24

Danced by Allegra Kent & Nicholas Magallanes

“We are under the domination of the supreme logic of irrationality.”

Photo by Martha Swope, 1972.

4. Variations, op. 30 (this section is no longer performed)

Danced by Paul Taylor

“Marvelously performed, spiritually hideous, humanly void and null, it gives us the ultimate psycho-electronic pulp.”

Photo by Martha Swope, 1960

5. Ricercata

Danced by Melissa Hayden and Francisco Moncion

“Balanchine has clearly known the perilousness of the area into which he has transported us, and he cannot possibly leave us there to drop as we may out of his stratosphere. For our safety and his conscience he must bring us back. […] Here as a finale is a noble restatement of humanity. […] The circle is closed, the ordeal ended, and though we are left shaken, we are awakened and inspired."

Photo by Martha Swope, 1959

Mr. B probably hated all the analysis or at least disregarded it. But I think there is beauty in the critics’ descriptions. That’s why I quote and share them so often. Dance only exists in that exact moment and only a finite number of people witnessed the premiere. The words people string together to try to capture their experience of a ballet is itself an art form that can be studied or enjoyed.

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