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Rooted in the court dances of 18th-century France, Le Tombeau de Couperin mesmerizes with its seamless patterns and symmetrical groupings of dancers.
In 1919 Maurice Ravel composed "Le Tombeau de Couperin” (“The Tomb of Couperin”), a commemorative suite for piano in six movements, in memory of six friends who died in World War I. He was inspired by the style of François Couperin, a French Baroque composer. In 1920, Ravel orchestrated four of the pieces, which make up the score for this ballet.
Balanchine choreographed Le Tombeau de Couperin for New York City Ballet’s 1975 Ravel Festival, and, like the composer, he incorporated French Baroque style and devices into a work with a modern sensibility. The eight couples are divided into left and right quadrilles, and each quadrille forms geometric patterns — diagonals, diamonds, squares — as they dance in unison or echo the movements of the opposite side.
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