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  Dancers Louise Nadeau & Brian Staihr. Photographer Don Middleton. Raymonda Variations. Choreography by George Balanchine. © The George Balanchine Trust.
   

Raymonda Variations
Choreography: George Balanchine
Music: Alexander Glazounov

This ballet provides a flame for some crisp and substantial dancing. Raymonda Variations takes the form of a display piece with a series of solo dances, a pas de deux and opening and closing ensembles. The music is tuneful and dancey providing the perfect background for the Balanchine choreographed material.

"It is certainly one of those ballets that best shows precisely what ballet is about. It is nothing but dancing, but dancing of such indescribable happiness, of such neat aptness, of such simple deftness," wrote one reviewer about the premiere in 1961 by the New York City Ballet.

Raymonda Variations toured the world receiving critical acclaim. Dance reviewers in the Soviet Union wrote, "The festive orchestration and its choreography, and the beautiful costumes done in markedly traditional style, with a smile of gentle irony, all produce a radiant impression."

Balanchine seemed to have some fun with the variations as he explored the possibilities of different steps. He positioned ballerinas on full pointe in lieu of partial pointe. All the girls come in and hop blithely from pointe to pointe.

The ballerina has two solos. One is lyrical and brilliant and a second that's fast paced. Both are performed in impeccable classical style. A reviewer in Germany described it best as ballet sweets from Balanchine's inexhaustible candy box.

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