In Balanchine's Classroom


Theater 3 Sun, Apr 24 1:00 PM


April 24

A film by Connie Hochman.

Featuring interviews with: Jaques D'Amboise, Merill Ashley, Gloria Govrin, Suki Schorer, Edward Villella & Heather Watts.

With a panel Q&A after the film with John Meehan, Peter Naumann & Lisa Chalmers-Naumann, moderated by Miriam Mahdaviani, Chair of Dance & Lecturer in Ballet and Classical Repertoire at Vassar College.

In 1970, U.S. News and World Report attempted to summarize Balanchine's achievements: "The greatest choreographer of our time, George Balanchine is responsible for the successful fusion of modern concepts with older ideas of classical ballet.” A major artistic figure of the twentieth century, Balanchine revolutionized the  look of classical ballet. Taking classicism as his base, he heightened, quickened, expanded, streamlined, and even inverted the fundamentals of the 400-year-old language of academic dance. This had an inestimable influence on the growth of dance in America. At first his style seemed particularly suited to the energy and speed of American dancers, especially those he trained, but now his ballets are performed by all major classical ballet companies throughout the world. Director Connie Hochman was a professional ballet dancer with Pennsylvania Ballet where she performed many Balanchine masterworks. In 2007, Connie began a series of interviews with former Balanchine dancers – ninety in all – to explore the phenomenon of Balanchine’s classroom. Why did he teach and not just choreograph? What did he teach? How did he teach? How did his daily class relate to his ballets? Their remembrances of his unorthodox methods and transformative teaching form the basis of In Balanchine’s Classroom.

Miriam Mahdaviani

Miriam Mahdaviani danced for the New York City Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Peter Martins. She is a choreographer, a former New York City Ballet dancer and a repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust. Over the course of her 14-year career with NYCB, she danced in over 40 Balanchine ballets. Other dance career highlights include performing on Broadway, at the Kremlin in Moscow, on screen in the Dance in America series on PBS, and in NYCB’s movie of Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Mahdaviani's choreography has been presented by NYCB at Lincoln Center, Saratoga and on tour. Her ballets have also been performed at Jacob’s Pillow, ballet companies and universities throughout the US, and at international dance festivals. Ms. Mahdaviani is currently the Chair of the Dance department at Vassar College.

Panel Bios