Symphony in Three Movements

Music: Igor Stravinsky (1942–1945)
Choreography: George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Staging: Susan Pilarre
Lighting Design: Ronald Bates
Duration: 22 minutes
Premiere: June 18, 1972; New York City Ballet (Stravinsky Festival)
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: September 17, 2005

Kiyon Gaines and PNB Company dancers
in Symphony in Three Movements.
Photo © Angela Sterling

Vibrant, startling and athletic, Symphony in Three Movements premiered on the opening night of New York City Ballet’s 1972 Stravinsky Festival. Called “the most raw and unleashed ballet Balanchine has done” and “one of the most exciting works in the international repertory,” this large ensemble ballet devours the stage with jazz-flavored movements and bursts of choreographic ferocity that mirror Stravinsky’s impressions of World War II that are the basis for the score.

Referring to his choreography for Symphony in Three Movements, Balanchine stated, “Choreographers combine movements, and the ones I arranged for this music follow no story line or narrative. They try to catch the music and do not, I hope, lean on it, using it instead for support and time frame.”

Recommended Listening:
Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring; Symphony in Three Movements, New York Philharmonic/Zubin Mehta, Teldec

Recommended Reading:
Stravinsky and Balanchine: A Journey of Invention, By Charles M. Joseph (Yale University Press, 2002)

Notes by Doug Fullington.

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