Variations pour une Porte et un Soupir

Choreography by: George Balanchine

Music by: Pierre Henry

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Sonority (14 of 25 numbers from Variations pour une Porte et un Soupir ) (first performed 1963)
February 17, 1974, New York City Ballet, New York State Theater
Original Cast
Karin von Aroldingen, John Clifford

23 Min.
Costumes by
Rouben Ter-Arutunian
Set by
Rouben Ter-Arutunian
Lighting by
Ronald Bates

Translated as Variations for a Door and a Sigh, this avant-garde work presents a black-caped woman in the role of the Door, an imposing barrier to the male soloist who portrays the Sigh in a work that is Balanchine at his most experimental.

At the suggestion of Nicholas Nabokov, the composer of Balanchine’s Don Quixote, Balanchine heard Pierre Henry’s work during a visit to Paris and decided then that someday he would like to do a ballet to it.  The score makes use of the gamut of sounds associated with human sighing and the opening and closing of doors including creaking, slamming, and swinging on ungreased hinges. The ballet is a pas de deux comprised of 14 variations for a female “Door” and a male “Sigh.”  The dancers’ movements are in precise accord with the separate sounds and vibrations that form the score.

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