Ballet AZ Blog

Behind-The-Scenes of All Balanchine with Ib Andersen

Ballet Arizona dancers and Ib Andersen in rehearsal for “Prodigal Son.” Choreography by George Balanchine. Photo by Tzu-Chia Huang.

Tell us about the lineup for All Balanchine this year.

La Sonnambula, Prodigal Son, & Symphony in Three Movements.

Natalia Magnicaballi wanted to perform La Sonnambula for her last piece with us, because she has such an affinity for this role. She has been important for Ballet Arizona during my time here and she was such a huge force in shaping the company. She will definitely be missed – she has been here almost as long as I have been – joining only one or two years later. We all wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors!

The score is glorious. The music is compiled from Bellini’s opera La Sonnambula, and Norma and then from Rieti which he then orchestrated and made the score from those pieces. It’s a murder mystery piece that is a bit more romantic (in a creepy sort of way). The story is definitely a darker one – reminds me of something Edgar Allen Poe would have written.

Prodigal Son is one of the last ones created during Diaghilev’s era (Ballets Russes) and he commissioned Prokofiev to do the score. This is actually based on the biblical story about a young man rebelling against his parents. He leaves home because he isn’t satisfied with his life, so he goes out into the world and is crushed by it. Then he comes crawling back on his knees begging for forgiveness. Life teaches him that where he came from maybe wasn’t so bad.

Ballet Arizona dancers in rehearsal for “Symphony in Three Movements.” Choreography by George Balanchine. Photo bu Tzu-Chia Huang.

You were praised repeatedly in your career for being very authentic in your roles and you are now known for trying to draw that authenticity out of your dancers. How do you do it?

It comes from my background with the Royal Danish Ballet, which has a long tradition of doing story ballets. Danes/Scandinavians are taught to not call attention to themselves – you are supposed to just BE. So when in these roles you don’t act – you ARE. There is a big difference. That is what I’m after. Acting is annoying. Being is moving.

There is so much you are trying to convey in these roles and so many different parts of the characters. It means you really need to commit. You need to believe in it, really understand it and give everything of yourself. This generation find it very hard to commit because we live in a different world right now. People are very self-conscious and it is hard for them to truly be in a role 100 percent.

Natalia Magnicaballi and Helio Lima in rehearsal for “La Sonnambula.” Choreography by George Balanchine. Photo by Tzu-Chia Huang.

Click here to get your tickets to Ballet Arizona’s production of All Balanchine, May 3rd – 6th at Symphony Hall!


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