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  Dancers Matthew Pawlicki-Sinclair and Matthew Powell in Great Galloping Gottschalk in spring 2007. Photographer Steve Wilson.
   

Great Galloping Gottschalk
Choreography: Lynne Taylor-Corbett
Music: Louis Moreau Gottschalk

Louis Moreau Gottschalk grew up in New Orleans. Born a Creole, he benefitted greatly from a rich musical heritage that included black musicians improvising on street corners. He was a talented musician as a youth, growing up to be an extraordinary pianist and composer of a genre of music that paved the way for Ragtime.

During the Civil War, Gottschalk played concerts in both the North and the South, crisscrossing battle lines by train with his piano in tow. His popularity grew to the point that one could say that he was “The Rock Star” of his time. Young women would sit in the front row of the theatres where he performed, holding his sheet music, sobbing and fainting when he played their favorite selections.

I discovered an album of Gottschalk’s piano selections in a record store when I was on a visit to Denver. I was searching for “important” music for my first commission at American Ballet Theatre. Misha Baryshnikov had invited me to do a work for the company and I wanted to be sure to do a really “serious” work. Gottschalk’s simple tunes charmed and inspired me; I was hooked. The result was Great Galloping Gottschalk, premiered byAmerican Ballet Theatre in 1982 and performed by numerous companies around the world since then. I am grateful to my esteemed colleague, William Whitener, for bringing it to the Kansas City Ballet.

Courtesy of Lynne Taylor-Corbett

World Premiere: January 12, 1982, American Ballet Theare, Miami Beach Theater of the Performing Arts,
Miami Beach Florida

Kansas City Ballet Premiere: February 22, 2007, Lyric Theatre, Kansas City, Missouri

 

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