Four Norwegian Moods

Music: Igor Stravinsky, Four Norwegian Moods
Costumes: Patricia Polen
First Performance: April 10, 1976, War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco.
Principal Dancers: Susan Magno and Keith Martin
Number of Dancers: 2
Duration: 12 minutes

Four Norwegian Moods Originally titled Stravinsky Pas de Deux, Christensen created Four Norwegian Moods for San Francisco Ballet dancers Susan Magno and Keith Martin. It is a charming, lyrical duet that departs from the traditional pas de deux form of adagio, variations and coda.

Set to Stravinsky's score for chamber orchestra of the same title, Four Norwegian Moods combines the melodic simplicity of folk song with the composer's sophisticated rhythmic verve. Christensen's choreography responds with both lyrical subtlety and artfulness.

In 1982, Four Norwegian Moods was staged by New York City Ballet as part of the company's distinguished Stravinsky Centennial Festival. Danced by Helgi Tomasson and Nichole Hinkla, Four Norwegian Moods was the only work by a choreographer outside of New York City Ballet to be represented at the festival. Lincoln Kirstein wrote of Four Norwegian Moods, "It was with great satisfaction that in our last season's Stravinsky Centennial celebration [Christensen's] enchanting Four Norwegian Moods was a triumph, and has since entered our permanent repertory."

Jack Anderson, critic for the New York Times, perfectly caught the mood of the ballet on its New York City Ballet debut: "As if attending a village fair, the dancers enter festively with confident strides and jumps, then dance tenderly. Then come several solos, too brief to be formal variations, they nevertheless allow the dancers to entertain one another and the audience as well. At last the lovers dance side by side and walk off, perhaps homeward from the fair."

Four Norwegian Moods was performed as part of San Francisco Ballet's 1978 appearances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music where New York critics extolled the sensitivity of Christensen's choreography. Arlene Croce, writing in the New Yorker praised Four Norwegian Moods as "choreographically the most distinguished work of the season," while Dance Magazine called Four Norwegian Moods "the most intelligently made item on the agenda."

Four Norwegian Moods was again performed by the New York City Ballet as part of the company's 1999 Stravinsky Festival.

Photograph: Alexander Filipov and Susan Magno in the San Francisco Ballet performances of Four Norwegian Moods (1976). Photo: Marty Sohl.

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