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NYCB Vol. 4 No. 2 - La Sonnambula

La Sonnambula was originally titled Night Shadow and was created by Balanchine for Alexandra Danilova and Frederic Franklin who were then dancing with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. The ballet had its premiere in New York at City Center. I share this next part because I love when dance critics are wrong. John Martin wrote of the 1946 premiere that, “It is a rather foolish little piece of pseudo-surrealism which is not likely to be of much interest to anybody.” Ha!


In 1960, Walter Terry described the ballet: “The core of Night Shadow is the extended duet of the Poet and the Sleepwalker […] the dance for the two is one of lyrical desperation, for the unseeing Sleepwalker eludes the reaching hands of the Poet as he attempts to bring her into his own orbit of reality. She fades from his encircling arms, she steps over the barrier of his prone body, she is but a puppet as he causes her to run or to turn. There is, nonetheless a sense that she is aware of his presence and in his death, this is realized as she carries his body alone and unaided, back to the hidden retreat from which she has come.”

—New York Herald Tribune



Alexandra Danilova & Frederic Franklin. Photos by Maurice Seymour, 1946.


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