A work of contrasting moods and spirits, Episodes and Sarcasms opens with an energetic all-male ensemble; the second half of the ballet is full of inventive solos, duets and unusual partnering. Prokofiev's music — a series of short piano pieces composed before World War I — was considered shocking when it premiered. The influence of several George Balanchine works (Apollo, Episodes, Square Dance) is clearly evident.
Richard Tanner was born in Phoenix, Arizona, where he began his dance training with Robert Lindgren and Sonja Tyven. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Utah and continued his dance training at the School of American Ballet. Mr. Tanner joined Oklahoma's Ballet West as a Soloist from 1967 through 1970. He then joined New York City Ballet where he danced for 10 years. He began his choreographic career in 1971 with two works for New York City Ballet. From 1981 to 1983, Mr. Tanner served as Regisseur Generale at American Ballet Theatre, and from 1985 to 1990 as Associate Artistic Director of Pennsylvania Ballet. For New York City Ballet, he has choreographed Ancient Airs and Dances, A Schubert Sonata and Operetta Affezionata, among other works.
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was a leading Soviet composer and a brilliant pianist. He left Russia in 1918 and lived in Germany and Paris for the next 16 years, with frequent trips to America for concert appearances. In 1934 he settled in Moscow and composed prolifically until his death. Among his better known works are the ballet scores Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, and The Prodigal Son, the opera Love for Three Oranges, the children's classic Peter and the Wolf, the film score and cantata for Alexander Nevsky, and the Classical Symphony.