A dance of transcendent beauty, “Mozartiana,” set to the musical suite of the same title by Tchaikovsky, was George Balanchine’s final masterpiece. The ballet was created for Suzanne Farrell, his last and greatest muse; in a way “Mozartiana” was his farewell gift to her. Choreographed in 1981 to commence the New York City Ballet Tchaikovsky Festival, this ballet was also a heartfelt homage to Tchaikovsky himself, whom Balanchine all his life regarded as a mentor and inspiration. “Balanchine at the age of seventy-seven had given us a vision of heaven as he interpreted it from the Lord’s Prayer, ‘on earth as it is in heaven,’ and it was a very beautiful place indeed, a place past desire, where dancers perform for the glory of God,” Farrell evocatively described this ballet in her autobiography Holding On to the Air.
Sara Mearns in George Balanchine's “Walpurgisnacht Ballet.” Photograph by Paul Kolnik