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Made in America

October 7-9, 2016
Peter Martin Wege Theatre

MOVEMEDIA: Made in America features George Balanchine’s iconic Serenade, Gerald Arpino’s Light Rain, and Paul Taylor’s patriotic work Company B. This is a must-see program celebrating great American choreography.


For more information, you can call the box office at (616) 454-4771 ext. 10

Fri, Oct 7, 2016 7:30 PM
Sat, Oct 8, 2016 7:30 PM
Sun, Oct 9, 2016 2:00 PM


Choreographer: George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust

Music: Serenade for Strings in C, Op. 48

Composer: Peter Ilytch Tchaikovsky

World Premiere: June 10, 1935

GRB Performances: 2010

The first performance of Serenade was on June 10, 1934, by students of the School of American Ballet, at Felix Warburg’s estate, White Plains, New York.

Serenade is a milestone in the history of dance. It is the first original ballet Balanchine created in America and is one of the signature works of New York City Ballet’s repertory. The ballet is performed by 28 dancers in blue costumes in front of a blue background. Originating it as a lesson in stage technique, Balanchine worked unexpected rehearsal events into the choreography. When one student fell, he incorporated it. Another day, a student arrived late, and this too became part of the ballet.

After its initial presentation, Serenade was reworked several times. In its present form there are four movements — “Sonatina,” “Waltz,” “Russian Dance,” and “Elegy.” The last two movements reverse the order of Tschaikovsky’s score, ending the ballet on a note of sadness.

Balanchine had a special affinity for Tschaikovsky. “In everything that I did to Tschaikovsky’s music,” he told an interviewer, “I sensed his help. It wasn’t real conversation. But when I was working and saw that something was coming of it, I felt that it was Tschaikovsky who had helped me.”

Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky (1840-1893) studied at the Conservatory in St. Petersburg, where Balanchine later studied piano in addition to his studies in dance. Tschaikovsky is one of the most popular and influential of all romantic composers. His work is expressive, melodic, and grand in scale, with rich orchestrations. His output was prodigious and included chamber works, symphonies, concerti for various instruments, operas, and works for piano. His creations for the ballet, composed in close partnership with Marius Petipa, include Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and, The Sleeping Beauty.

– the George Balanchine Trust

The first ballet Balanchine made in America.

New Yorker

The piece is beautiful—stirring, sweeping Serenade. It is a story about hope.

Joan Acocella, The New Yorker

Company B

Choreographer: Paul Taylor

Music: Various 1940s-era songs sung by the Andrews Sisters

Costumes: Santo Loquasto

Lighting: Jennifer Tipton

World Premiere: Paul Taylor Dance Company, June 20, 1991

GRB Performances: 2012

Just as America began to emerge from the Deprression at the dawn of the 1940s, the country was drawn into the Second World War. In a seminal piece of Americana, Paul Taylor recalls that turbulent era through the hit songs of the Andrews Sisters. Although the songs depict a nation surging with high spirits, millions of men were bidding farewell to wives or girlfriends and many would never return from battle. The dance focuses on such poignant dualities. Young lovers lindy, jitterbug and polka in a near manic graps for happiness while in the background shadowy figures – soldiers – fall dead. Among the sections of the dance, the one choreographed to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B)” is carefree until the moment the bugler is shot; the one set ot “I Can Dream, Can’t I?” tells of a young lady’s affections for a soldier an ocean away who, for his part, reaches out to a comrade in arms. The dance ends just as it began, with “Bei Mir Bist du Schon” – but the world has clearly changed.

– the Paul Taylor Dance Company

Paul Taylor’s “Company B” has proved to be a smash hit.

New York Times

Timeless as Ever!

Dance Magazine

Taylor is a master of creative freedom

Matt Hanson, danceworld.com

Light Rain

Choreographer: Gerald Arpino

Music: Douglas Adamz and Russ Gauthier

Costumes: A. Christina Giannini

Lighting: Kevin Dreyer after the original Thomas Skelton

World Premiere: November 4, 1981

GRB Performances: 2014

Light Rain has been one of Gerald Arpino’s most celebrated signature pieces since its premiere in 1981. Created for the Joffrey’s Silver Anniversary, and presented again as the closing ballet of the Company’s Golden Anniversary, Light Rain remains the company’s most beloved and requested work.

Gerald Arpino created this ballet to showcase the new young dancers of the company. “It is my gift to these talented youngsters…I am inspired by their modes and rituals, their passions.” Light Rain, with its accent on youth, its American artists, and its original music, continues The Joffrey traditions begun in 1956. The original score by Douglas Adamz and Russ Gauthier features an eclectic combination of instruments with an Eastern mesmerizing rhythm.

– the Arpino Foundation

Light Rain” was a brief history lesson in the all-American athleticism …

Pittsburgh Crosscurrents

”Light Rain”  has an integrity about its very nerve.


Taylor is a master of creative freedom

Matt Hanson, danceworld.com


George Balanchine


George Balanchine, who is regarded as the foremost contemporary choreographer in the world of ballet, came to the United States in late 1933 following an early career throughout Europe. His trip to the United States in 1933 was at the invitation of Lincoln Kirstein, the Boston born dance connoisseur whose dream it was to establish an American school of ballet equivalent to the European schools, as well as an American ballet company. Kirstein had met Balanchine in Paris after seeing a performance by the company that Balanchine was then directing there, Les Ballets 1933; the two were introduced by Romola Nijinsky, widow of the famous Russian dancer, whom Kirstein assisted in her research for a biography of her late husband. Read more…

Paul Taylor

Company B

Paul Taylor was born on July 29, 1930, in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, and grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. He went on to attend Syracuse University through a swimming scholarship and in 1951 took up dance training, which became his all-consuming passion. He henceforth transferred to The Juilliard School in New York City and choreographed works of his own, starting his own dance company in the mid-1950s. The May 30, 1954 presentation of “Jack and the Beanstalk” is credited as the Paul Taylor Dance Company’s first work. Read more…

Gerald Arpino

Light Rain

Born on Staten Island, New York, Gerald Arpino studied ballet with Mary Ann Wells, while stationed with the Coast Guard in Seattle, Washington. Arpino first met Robert Joffrey at Wells’s school. He studied modern dance with May O’Donnell in whose company he appeared in the 1950s. In 1956, Arpino was a founding member of the Robert Joffrey Theatre Ballet with Robert Joffrey. He served as co-director of the company’s school, the American Ballet Center, and was the leading dancer until an injury forced him to stop in 1963. By 1965 he had choreographed five works for the company, and became the Joffrey’s co-director and resident choreographer. In the first twenty-five years of the company’s existence, Arpino had created more than a third of all its commissioned ballets. Read more…