Square Dance

In Square Dance, Balanchine joined the traditions of American folk dance with classical ballet. He felt the two types of dance, though widely different in style, had common roots and a similar regard for order. He wrote: “The American style of classical dancing, its supple sharpness and richness of metrical invention, its superb preparation for risks, and its high spirits were some of the things I was trying to show in this ballet.”

In the original 1957 version, the musicians were placed on the stage, and a square dance caller was brought in to call out the steps. Square Dance was revived in 1976 without the caller, with the orchestra in the pit, and with an added solo for the principal male dancer.

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), one of the foremost Baroque composers, was born in Venice and died in Vienna. His unique musical language is evident in the variety of form, scoring, and imaginative conception in the more than 500 concerti that he composed. A creator of orchestral program music, Vivaldi made contributions to musical style, violin technique, and orchestration.

Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713) was an Italian composer and violinist whose work affected form, style, and instrumental technique in Italy and throughout Europe. He was the first composer to gain attention solely from instrumental composition, to owe his reputation in large part to the activities of the musical publishers, and to produce classical instrumental works which were admired and studied long after their idiom had become outmoded. Corelli’s works are in three forms: solo sonatas, trio sonatas, and concerti. He is considered one of the originators of the concerto grosso, an ensemble concerto for a group of soloists.

Repertory notes provided courtesy of and adapted from New York City Ballet Online Repertory Index. Additional sources: Choreography by George Balanchine: A Catalogue of Works, An Eakins Press Foundation Book, published by Viking (1984); and Repertory in Review: 40 Years of the New York City Ballet by Nancy Reynolds (1970; The Dial Press).  Photo credit: Photo © Paul Kolnik
The George Balanchine Trust - Square Dance
Choreography:  George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Music:  Concerto Grosso in B minor, Op. 3 no. 10; Concerto Grosso in E major, Op. 3, no. 12 (first movement), Sarabanda, Badinerie e Giga (second and third movements)
Composer:  Vivaldi, Antonio / Corelli, Arcangelo
Premiere:  1957
Average Length:  23 minutes
No. Dancers:  14