The refined simplicity and emotional interactions of Balanchine’s rarely-seen Sonatine evoke the elegance of the French artists on which it was made.
Sonatine was presented as the opening ballet of the New York City Ballet Ravel Festival during the 1975 Spring Season, which marked the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Perhaps as a nod to the composer’s country, Balanchine created this ballet — a pas de deux with an onstage pianist — on Violette Verdy and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, two principal dancers with New York City Ballet who were both born in France. The music is Ravel’s Sonatine for Piano, which was first performed in 1906. This early work of Ravel’s is bright, clear, and refined, with a fluidity that translates well into dance.