Balanchine’s former dancers reveal startling new facets of the legendary choreographer as they open the door to his private classroom - his laboratory, set against their present-day efforts to keep his legacy alive.
With our movie In Balanchine’s Classroom opening in theaters this fall – starting with its premiere on Sept. 17th at Film Forum in NYC – we have begun a new and related venture: creation of the In Balanchine’s Classroom Digital Archive. Our goal is to safeguard for future generations the extraordinary raw material which grew out of years of research, development, and production.
The Archive will encompass 100 in-depth video interviews with former dancers and others who worked with Balanchine over a span of fifty years. This unique collection celebrates the dancers’ individual perspectives and interpretations of Balanchine’s teaching and vision.
In addition to the interviews, the Archive includes extensive dance footage which captures the efforts by Balanchine dancers to keep his legacy alive today. With special access to ballet companies and schools across the US and in Europe, the IBC team succeeded in filming Balanchine dancers at work teaching classes, staging Balanchine ballets, and imparting their personal storehouse of knowledge and artistry to the next generation. These exclusive shoots proved to be revelatory.
The Archive will provide the continuity, depth, and detail of each interview in full, as well as the complete classes and rehearsals, uninterrupted. We envision the IBC Digital Archive as an elegant, user-friendly, interactive website and database, indexed by keywords, and flowing transcription, including photographs and memorabilia.
Working closely with The George Balanchine Trust and other rights holders, we will ensure that all rights-owned material is approved and protected. While the Archive is in its embryonic stages, we have begun to speak with universities, libraries, and foundations and we are encouraged by their interest and enthusiastic responses.
The IBC Digital Archive will make a significant contribution to dance and our cultural heritage by documenting through primary sources how Balanchine’s work at the classroom level, in tandem with his choreography, transformed his dancers' lives and revolutionized the art of ballet. Their vivid recollections and priceless insights deserve to live on, illuminate, and inspire for generations to come.
BALANCHINE is a Trademark of The George Balanchine Trust
All Choreography by George Balanchine (c) The George Balanchine Trust
Director Connie Hochman
Connie Hochman was a professional ballet dancer with Pennsylvania Ballet where she performed many of George Balanchine’s masterworks. As a child in the 1960s, Connie trained at the School of American Ballet and danced alongside the New York City Ballet, with Balanchine at the helm. During these years, she witnessed a profound bond between the master and his dancer-disciples, which continued to inspire and fascinate her. Decades later, Connie's childhood memories of Balanchine, combined with a desire to understand more, led her on a mission to solve a mystery. What exactly happened in Balanchine’s classroom, where he developed the dancers and the dancing to serve his choreographic vision?
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.
In addition to the dancer interviews, Connie launched an extensive search for visuals that would bring the story to life. She discovered a trove of never-before-seen archival footage of Balanchine in America. With approval from The George Balanchine Trust, Connie traveled around the country and to Europe to film Balanchine’s former dancers staging his ballets, teaching classes, and passing on their knowledge to today’s generation. This wealth of material formed the foundation for In Balanchine's Classroom.
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