BWW Review: BREAKING BREAD WITH BALANCHINE, a Guggenheim Works & Process Treat
The Works & Process series at the Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue in NYC has been giving New Yorkers an up-close-and-personal chance to experience aspects of the creative process for over three decades. One recent installment, a fascinating retrospective entitled "Breaking Bread with Balanchine", explored Mr. B's passionate involvement with cooking and how his relationship to food influenced his choreography. Food scholar Dr. Meryl Rosofsky researched the "culinary biography" during her resident fellowship at NYU's The Center for Ballet and the Arts.
On the evening of April 8th 2018, I joined other balletomanes for a pre-show dinner at The Wright, an intimate restaurant inside the museum. The Balanchine-inspired menu, curated by Dr. Rosofsky in collaboration with Chef Alejandro Cortez, included kulich and paskha, which Balanchine made each year for his Russian Orthodox Easter feasts. The program was timed to coincide with Russian Orthodox Easter, and I can attest that the dishes were delicious.
After sharing the repast, we all trooped to the Rotunda where we were treated to a slide show of images from Mr. B's personal life and his career. Following that, Dr. Rosofsky delivered her intriguing narrative along with comments about more slides and some video clips. Next came remarks by a stellar panel as well as performance excerpts by members of the New York City Ballet. We heard charming food-related reminiscences from former NYCB principal Edward Villela; Dr. Jeanne Fuchs, an SAB alum, who tested Balanchine's recipes for The Ballet Cook Book by Tanaquil Le Clercq; and NYCB's longtime orthopedic consultant Dr. William Hamilton, who attended Balanchine's legendary Russian Orthodox Easter celebrations.
The interspersed excerpts from "Apollo", "Prodigal Son", and "Emeralds" were - not surprisingly - beautifully danced on the small stage. Kudos to Jared Angle, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Joseph Gordon, Ashley Laracey, and Miriam Miller.
I came away with a deeper appreciation for Mr. B. not only as an artist but as a person. Here, to whet your appetite, is the menu from The Wright:
Chilled Trio of Soups à la Jewels
English Pea Soup (Emeralds) & Ruby Beet Borscht (Rubies) & Vichyssoise (Diamonds)
Blini with Caviar
crème fraîche, caviar
ADD Vodka "hooker" cocktail$8
poached chicken, cucumber, potatoes, peas, hard-boiled eggs, olives, and capers dijon-mayonnaise dressing
Grand Aioli Provençal
poached salmon, green beans, potatoes, spring onion, watermelon radish, saffron aioli
Mushroom Kasha "Risotto"
porcini mushrooms, fava beans, mushroom broth
Chicken Breast, Saratoga Green Sauce
red cabbage puree, assorted spring peas
Kotletki von Aroldingen
Russian meatballs with mushrooms-sour cream sauce, horseradish potatoes, eggplant tomatoes
Land of Sweets
Balanchine's childhood custard, strawberries & mint
Traditional Russian Easter Paskha and Kulich
Farmer's cheese cake, currants vanilla-almond cake, lemon icing
Chocolate "Mousse King" Marzipan Tart
Arabian coffee gelato
Cocktails - A Few of Balanchine's Favorites - $14
Southampton Strawberry Spring Daiquiri
Dill Infused Vodka, with a splash of soda
An upcoming event: NYCB Turnout's Culinary Choreography on April 23rd at the Institute of Culinary Education on 225 Liberty Street. The evening will include: 6:30-7 PM Cocktails and Hors d'oeuvres, 7-8 PM Hands-on-Cooking, and 8 PM Dinner. Hosted by Dr. Rosofsky and NYCB Board Member Stuart Coleman, the event will benefit NYCB's Dancer Wellness Fund. For tickets, visit nycballet.com/turnout or call 212.870.5677.
BALANCHINE is a trademark of the George Balanchine Trust.