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Last spring, in celebration of 75 years since George Balanchine made Serenade on students, the School of American Ballet presented a panel on the ballet. Faculty member Suki Schorer, who has been staging Serenade at SAB workshops since 1974, was on the panel, as were several dancers who had performed Serenade at past SAB workshops. Dance Magazine’s Wendy Perron moderated. Below are a few of the choice moments from the panel.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Wendy Whelan: I learned how to feel the body of the community. We all became one body. Every single corps person is vital. Everyone had her sparkle.
Brian Reeder: You see that you’re part of a larger picture. All of these special moments—in their simplicity, they’re really grand. As the Waltz Girl’s partner, you’re going on the next part of her journey with her. It was the first time I got a sense of off-balance in partnering.
ON THOSE ICONIC MOMENTS
Lourdes Lopez: (when all the 17 women suddenly turn out their legs into first position): We all wobbled! Suki said, “You’ve gotta tighten your rear end and stick your stomach in!”
Maria Kowroski: (about the Dark Angel’s long arabesque, supported by the man behind her, holding and turning her standing leg) Right before I go onstage, I use Static Guard to make it simpler for the guy. For that arabesque, you step up and pray for the best. You’re showing the beautiful line, and at the end it just keeps going. You have to make sure you don’t start too high because then you have nowhere to go.
Lourdes Lopez: My sense is that the three girls are one woman: The Russian as the messenger; the Waltz girl is naïve; the Dark Angel as a protective, mothering type. He’s dancing with one perfect woman.
Brian Reeder: You see the spiritual journey of a dancer. You start with the turnout, and in the end she’s going into the light. I always get a little weepy.
Wendy Whelan: The architecture is sublime. It has beautiful craft and is filled with poetry. You felt the sacredness of most simple things that we did together.
Suki Schorer: It’s full of longing and yearning, those emotions that we all experience. The ballet is timeless.