Bourrée Fantasque

Choreography by: George Balanchine

Music by: Emmanuel Chabrier

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Credits

Music
Marche Joyeuse (1888); Bourrée Fantasque (1891); Prélude from the opera Gwendoline (1885), Féte Polonaise from the comic opera Le Roi Malgré Lui (The Reluctant King) (1887)
Premiere
December 1, 1949, New York City Ballet, City Center of Music and Drama
Original Cast
Tanaquil Le Clercq, Jerome Robbins, Maria Tallchief, Nicholas Magallanes, Janet Reed, Herbert Bliss

Length
23 min.

Balanchine had admired Chabrier's music since discovering it after leaving Russia during his early years in France. He knew well the pieces he would assemble into the score of Bourrée Fantasque, but waited a long time before he used them to create one of the first works for the newly-formed New York City Ballet. Balanchine was well-known for his wonderful wit as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of dance forms. Here he takes comic aim at many of the conventions that typify the classical dance while providing glimpses of such popular dances such as the can-can and tango. This large ballet for 42 dancers is performed in four movements with each of the first three sections having its own principal couple and culminates in a rousing finale for the entire cast. Critics have cited Bourrée Fantasque for its Gallic style, Russian dance vocabulary and American dynamism.