FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 5, 1999
Melissa Hayden To Tape Video Series For The George Balanchine Foundation
American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet
to be Featured in Coaching Sessions on
Stars and Stripes and Donizetti
New York City--Melissa
Hayden, outstanding classical and dramatic ballerina with the New York City
Ballet for many years, will teach and coach roles Balanchine created for her
for the cameras of The George Balanchine Foundation's Interpreters Archives. Taping will
commence November 16 and 17, with a second shoot scheduled for November 22 and
23, at City Center Studio #5, 130 West 56th Street, New York City.
Ms. Hayden will work with Gillian Murphy, a
soloist with American Ballet Theatre, who was her student. Ms. Murphy will be
joined by New York City Ballet principal dancers Charles Askegard (Stars and
Stripes) and Peter Boal (Donizetti
Variations). Balanchine scholar and
director of research for the Foundation Nancy Reynolds will oversee the project
and interview Ms. Hayden. Ms. Reynolds danced with the New York City Ballet at
the time both ballets were created.
She initiated the video archives program in
1994 and has directed the production of more than twenty projects with many of
Balanchine's leading dancers. Master tapes of the archives are housed at the
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and copies may now be viewed in
some 35 research libraries around the world.
"I'm looking forward to being reminded at
close hand of Melissa's steely footwork and mastery of intricate technical
challenges, which she was somehow able--almost incongruously--to combine with a
sense of fun and an ever-so-subtle flirtation with the audience," Ms.
Stars and Stripes (1958), to the music
of John Philip Sousa, is one of several Balanchine salutes to America, his
adopted country. This full-company ballet, complete with baton twirling,
military marching, and a regiment of rifle-bearing females, culminates in a
showy and challenging pas de deux, originally danced by Melissa Hayden and
Jacques d'Amboise. At the time, P. W. Manchester noted with some amusement that
"[the two] piled climax upon climax until the audience was in a state of
almost gibbering excitement" (Dance News, October 1958).
In quite another vein is the bubbling, cheerful Donizetti
Variations (originally called Variations from "Don Sebastian"),
choreographed by Balanchine in 1960 for Melissa Hayden, Jonathan Watts, and a
small corps de ballet. Because of the ballet's compact size and fluent,
non-stop, "dancey" steps, it has become a great favorite with
companies and dance afficianados throughout the country.
"Melissa's performance in both of these
ballets was always a pleasure," concluded Ms. Reynolds,
"Unquestionably; her interpretations of the original choreography will
provide skillful insight into the roles."
MELISSA HAYDEN was
born in Toronto, where she studied ballet with Boris Volkov. After a brief
stint at Radio City Music Hall, she joined Ballet Theatre, soon becoming a
soloist, in 1945. Although she danced with several other companies, her
principal career took place at the New York City Ballet, where she was a
soloist in 1953-54 and principal dancer from 1955 until 1973. While Ms. Hayden
always excelled at dramatic roles-notably, the leads in William Dollar's The
Duel, Frederick Ashton's Illuminations, Todd Bolender's The Still Point, and Birgit Cullberg's Medea--Balanchine developed the classical side of her dancing
when he choreographed roles for her in Agon, The Figure in the
Carpet, La Source, and Brahms-Schoenberp
Quartet, as well as showcasing her dramatic
talents in A Midsummer Night's Dream
and Liebeslieder Walzer, among
others. When Ms. Hayden announced her retirement in 1973, Balanchine created a
ballet in her honor, Cortège Hongrois. Since 1983, she has been on the faculty of the
North Carolina School of the Arts.
joined American Ballet Theatre in 1987, becoming a soloist in1992. In 1997, he
became a member of the New York City Ballet, where he was promoted to principal
dancer in 1998. Mr. Askegard has danced in many ballets by Balanchine and
Robbins and has had roles created for him by Peter Martins in River of
Light, Swan Lake, and Them Twos.
He is in particular demand as a classical partner. He has made guest
appearances with several other companies and may be seen in the Fred Wiseman
documentary on ABT, "Ballet."
PETER BOAL danced
the Nutcracker Prince at the age of eleven in Balanchine's production. He
became a principal dancer of the New York City Ballet in 1989, singled out for
his "impeccable line, quiet musicianship and aristocratic bearing" by
New York Post critic Clive Barnes. Mr. Boal has danced a wide variety of
ballets in the NYCB repertory, including the plum Balanchine roles of Apollo,
Prodigal Son, and Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, as well as a host of leading roles by other
choreographers. He has been seen on television performing Balanchine's Western
Symphony and Agon. He also appears in the Balanchine Foundation's
video series "The Balanchine Essays." With Judith Fugate, he took
part in an earlier Interpreters Archive video, working with Maria Tallchief on Scotch
Symphony. In 1996, Mr. Boa1 received a
Dance Magazine Award.
GILLIAN MURPHY was
born in England and raised in the United States. Under the tutelage of Melissa
Hayden at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she danced principal roles in
several school productions, including Balanchine ballets. After winning awards
and prizes as a student, she joined American Ballet Theatre in 1996 and was
promoted to soloist in 1999. In addition to numerous solo roles, her repertory
includes Gamzatti in La Bavadère, Myrtha in Giselle, and Gulnare in Le Corsaire.
who was in the original cast of Stars and Stripes, is now a dance
historian and author. She is presently Director of Research for The George
Balanchine Foundation and an editor of the
multivolume International Encyclopedia of Dance, has published by Oxford
University Press in 1998. She has recently completed writing a history of
theatrical dance in the 20th century, soon to be released by Yale University