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One of Balanchine’s most celebrated leotard ballets, Symphony in Three Movements is bold and breathtakingly jet-propelled, a kinetic achievement, striking for its confidence and power.
For New York City Ballet’s 1972 Stravinsky Festival, Balanchine choreographed several notable masterpieces, including the majestic Symphony in Three Movements. Stravinsky had suggested the music as a ballet when the choreographer visited the composer in Hollywood during World War II. Despite its 21 minute length, the piece evokes a fuller symphonic breadth with two instruments, the harp and piano, providing the dominant contrasts. “Each instrument has a large obbligato role in a movement to itself, and only at the turning- point fugue…do the two play together and unaccompanied,” said Stravinsky. The signature Stravinsky propulsive rhythm is mirrored by the angular, athletic choreography for soloists and a large ensemble, although the second andante movement, originally composed for an apparition scene in the movie Song of Bernadette, is reserved for a meditative pas de deux. One of Balanchine’s “leotard” ballets, the work requires no scenic or narrative distractions from the complexity of the choreography.
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