THE BLOG
04/22/2013 05:28 pm ET Updated Jun 22, 2013

Tudor's Ballet Dark Elegies Has Its Finger On the Pulse

I saw Antony Tudor's Dark Elegies performed last night at New York Theatre Ballet's "Legends and Visionaries" program at Florence Gould Hall, NYC.

Though created by Mr. Tudor in 1937, the ballet couldn't have been more current. Tudor described this work as his favorite ballet, and many consider it to be his greatest. "From bursts of rage to tender moments of quiet devastation, Tudor's 'ballet requiem,' expresses the raw emotion of a tight-knit community faced with the inexplicable loss of their beloved children," explains the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust.

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Dark Elegies - ABT - Fall, 2005

Julie Kent and Grant Delong - Photo courtesy of Sally Brayley Bliss

Newtown, Connecticut, grieves for 20 children and six adults gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. Boston grieves in the wake of Monday's Marathon bombings, with three dead and more than 170 injured. Together, we grieve, as a nation.

It has been 76 years since Tudor choreographed Dark Elegies. Everything has changed, yet nothing has changed. The ballet's subject matter and emotional content feel raw. Dark Elegies has its finger on the pulse. Perhaps it always will.

Dark Elegies is danced to the Song Cycle Kindertotenlieder ("Songs on the Death of Children") by Gustav Mahler (1860-1911). The work consists of five songs to lyrics by Friedrich Rückert. It was first performed in London by Ballet Rambert on Feb. 19, 1937. First cast included Peggy van Praagh, Maude Lloyd, and Agnes de Mille. First U.S. performance was by American Ballet Theater (Ballet Theatre) at New York's City Center, January 24, 1940.

NY Theatre Ballet performs chamber ballet masterpieces and new works by emerging choreographers, and innovative one hour ballets for children. By pairing the ballets of legendary creators with those of new visionaries, NYTB helps audiences to rediscover the old and be thrilled by the new.

This story was originally published on adriaballetbeat.com on Saturday, April 20, 2013.