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Mirroring Glazounov’s melding of nationalistic and classical idioms, Cortège Hongrois develops from a folk-stylized processional to a classical grand pas de deux.
Cortège Hongrois ("a courtly parade in the Hungarian style") was created by Balanchine as a farewell gift for Melissa Hayden when she announced her retirement after more than 20 years of dancing principal roles with the Company. For this ballet, Balanchine used music from Alexander Glazounov’s full-length Raymonda.
Balanchine considered the Raymonda score to be “a treasure chest of music,” and for Cortège Hongrois (1973) he chose some of the same music he had used for Pas de Dix in 1955. Still other excerpts were chosen for his 1961 Raymonda Variations. The mixture of “character” ethnic dances with classical ballet, including a grand pas de deux, is also tribute to Marius Petipa, the choreographer of the original full-length Raymonda (1898), which ends with a lavish Hungarian divertissement.
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