THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS PAIRS WITH STONER WINSLETT’S SIGNATURE WORK, WINDOWS
October 12th, 2015
Windows Marks Stoner Winslett’s 35 Years as Richmond Ballet Artistic Director
Richmond Ballet is pleased to announce that, for the third consecutive season, repertory programs will begin the Company’s three-show residency at the Carpenter Theatre, with Stoner Winslett’s full-length Windows and George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments running November 7-8, 2015. All three performances will feature the entire professional company and second company, as well as trainees from The School of Richmond Ballet. With a highly anticipated return to the Carpenter Theatre stage, Windows, complete with all four sections, will celebrate Ms. Winslett’s 35 years as Artistic Director of Richmond Ballet. The Richmond Symphony is set to provide live orchestration for all three performances.
George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, an unrivaled modern masterpiece, still remains one of the defining works within the New York City Ballet repertory, even 70 years since its creation. The first of Mr. Balanchine’s sparse, “black and white ballets,” aptly named for the simple black and white practice clothes the dancers don on stage, The Four Temperaments was quickly recognized as a pivotal work when it premiered in 1946. Set to a commissioned score by Paul Hindemith, The Four Temperaments was instantly distinct: its finite precision, and its stark, neoclassical choreography, punctuated by jutting hips, flexed feet and hands, and hieroglyphic arms – all which became signatures of Mr. Balanchine’s work – signaled a changing tide in the world of ballet, both in America and abroad.
“The Four Temperaments is an iconic work, and it has never before been performed in this city with its incredible score played live by the Richmond Symphony,” said Ms. Winslett. “It really is one of the best examples of Balanchine as visual music. Anyone who loves ballet would not want to miss this.” Inspired by the ancient belief in the four psychological humors which, in varying levels, determine a person’s temperament, the ballet follows a ‘theme and variations’ pattern and is comprised of four movements: “Melancholic,” “Sanguinic,” “Phlegmatic” and “Choleric,” each with its own tone and physicality.
“Melancholic,” the first of the four humors to appear, echoes the music’s cool sense of gloom. “Sanguinic” then follows: a passionate pas de deux with bold movement and rich music where the roundness of the orchestra can be heard. “Phlegmatic” is the third humor, and opens with a single male dancer, who works his way through a language of thoughtful adagio. As women enter from stage right and stage left, his movements become in sync with his partners’, and each dancer is connected through links and chains of woven hands and arms. Finally, “Choleric” closes the ballet with authoritative, distorted steps, as the full Company joins together in one of the ballet world’s most unforgettable finales.
Stoner Winslett’s full-length Windows will celebrate its much-anticipated return to the Carpenter Theatre stage this November. Choreographed for the professional company in 1990 and again in 1999, Windows uses dance as a means to paint a beautifully-articulated picture of styles from the mid-nineteenth century to the turn of the 21st century. Styles develop from the times in which people live and, for future generations, they provide a ‘window’ into the culture and values of previous generations. Ms. Winslett’s original work created three ‘windows’ that celebrate various styles of cultures from which ballet blossomed, peering first into the world the French Romantic movement with its softness and mysticism; then into the Russian imperial court with its rigid, sparkling classicism; and lastly into the world of 20th-century contemporary ballet, where sleek and angular athleticism set the standard of the stage. Each set to a piece of music written as variations on the same theme, Paganini’s 24th Caprice for Violin, the echoing musical leitmotif is the through-line that connects these generations.
“The seed of the ideas for Windows came when I was at Smith College working on my Smith Scholars’ project,” said Ms. Winslett. “I became fascinated with styles and the way human beings convey what’s in their mind and what’s in their heart. Artists, over time, have chosen many different forms of expression to communicate what they are feeling: writing, music, painting, dance. And as you look through history, these communications will be in a style indicative of their times. I wanted to look at, not just the music, but dance styles and design during the three periods, which, at that point, defined the evolution of ballet history.”
The work’s fourth movement, added on the cusp of the millennium with a commissioned score by Jonathan Romeo based on the same Paganini theme, sets a single pair from each era amid a large ensemble in constant motion, as if whirling with the passage of time. Accented with dazzling lighting, this final vignette looks not back, but ahead, offering a vision of our own era that is layered with new challenges and cautious hopes. Windows has a hopeful charge for future generations that seeks to remind us of our heritage while urging us ever forward as we search for that which is new and significant in our lifetime. Therein lays the promise of progress, the promise of potential.
“When you really think about it, all we know about the people who came before us on this planet comes from their art,” continued Ms. Winslett. “We know about them from their writings, their music, their paintings, their architecture, and their dances. I love this idea, and the entire time that the piece has been evolving, this belief has remained at its core.”
“In many ways, Windows is the most important work, to me, that I’ve ever choreographed. The ideas behind Windows are really the ideas behind the founding of Richmond Ballet and what this Company stands for. It has been, since we first started doing it here, a signature work for this Company and for this audience.”
Visit richmondballet.com to learn about the Ballet’s special Windows promotion in collaboration Style Weekly and The Scout Guide. See our “windows” in storefront around town, and enter to win two tickets to one of our performances on Saturday, November 7.
The Four Temperaments. © The George Balanchine Trust.
WINDOWS | TICKETS
Choreography by Stoner Winslett | Variations the Theme from Paganini’s 24th Caprice for Violin by Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Blacher, and Romeo
THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS
Choreography by George Balanchine | Music by Paul Hindemith
Saturday, November 7, 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm
Sunday, November 8, 2:00 pm
Richmond CenterStage’s Carpenter Theatre | 600 E. Grace Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219
Tickets start at $20.00. Tickets available at eTIX.com, by calling 1.800.514.3849, or through the Richmond Ballet Box Office at 407 E. Canal Street.
All photos by Aaron Sutten.
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