My Balanchine Story

Victoria Simon

With the upcoming Balanchine Retrospective at New York City Center, here is my little Balanchine story… In 2000, Rodney Gustafson, artistic director of State Street Ballet, honored me with the opportunity to suggest an idea for a ballet. I proposed a suite of small ballets to songs sung by Frank Sinatra. I obtained permission from the Sinatra Foundation to use the music and fellow board member, actress Bonnie Bartlett (“St. Elsewhere”, “Twins”) arranged for her friend, Victoria Simon, to do the choreography. Ms. Simon was a former Balanchine ballerina and then ballet mistress for the Balanchine Trust in New York. The ballet’s premier was attended by members of the Sinatra family and their friends. After the performance, ballet patrons and dancers gathered at a “Cab Frank” party where the owners of Kahn Winery, also Sinatra fans, uncorked a limited release of their ’98 Cab Franc. (They played Sinatra while crushing the grapes.) The ballet, titled “Salute to Sinatra”, was an immediate success and has been part of State Street Ballet’s repertoire since. -Sandra McGee

(Photo: Lynda Milner, Montecito Journal, “Scene Around Town”, 19 April 2000)

4 thoughts on “My Balanchine Story

  1. Sandra, this is wonderful & unfamiliar history/news previously known to me! Congratulations! And I love the photos viewed on Facebook! You McGees are leaving behind super legacy paths
    for continued knowledgement & enjoyment. Thanks! Susie

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