Choreography: George Balanchine
Music: Johann Sebastian Bach
Premiere: Pre-NYC Ballet ensemble, May 29, 1940
As was his custom, Balanchine designed this ballet upon the score, composed in this case by Bach. He took the music as a point of departure and choreographed a non-narrative dance as its complement. Always with the music as his guide, Balanchine rarely introduced story into his ballets. “If the score is a truly great one,” said Balanchine, “[the choreographer] … can present his impression in terms of pure dance.”
Concerto Barocco was the first of many Balanchine works to be costumed with practice attire. Today it’s a familiar aesthetic, stylistically typical of Balanchine’s work. As much of a dance lover as I am, the star of the piece for me is Bach’s gorgeous score. The choreography is sometimes lyrical and often sharp and athletic, a once unexpected interpretation of the music that is par for the course now that Balanchine is so ubiquitous.