Book: The Ballet Companion


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Parents & Teachers > Ask A Teacher > About Bart Cook

Bart Robinson Cook, began his early dance training in Ogden, Utah. He later moved to Salt Lake City, where his study of classical ballet continued under the direction of William Christensen, a pioneer in American dance. At seventeen, he became an apprentice at Ballet West, where he saw his first Balanchine ballet, Serenade. It was his love for this ballet that brought him to New York City, where he received a scholarship at The School of American Ballet.

In 1971, Mr. Cook was invited by George Balanchine to join New York City Ballet. Shortly after, Mr. Balanchine and Jerome Robbins began to cast Mr. Cook in leading roles and in 1979, he was promoted to principal dancer.

Mr. Cook specialized in Balanchine's "black and white" neo-classical roles, Agon, Episodes, Symphony in Three Movements and Violin Concerto. He is particularly remembered for his contribution to The Four Temperaments/Melancholic Variation.

Other memorable roles were in Rubies, Bugaku, Liebeslieder Waltzer, Vienna Waltzes, Union Jack, Square Dance, La Sonambula and Variations Pour une Porte et un Soupir.

Mr. Cook worked extensively with Jerome Robbins, originating and performing soloist roles in The Cage, Glass Pieces, I'm Old Fashioned, Dances at a Gathering, The Concert and Opus 19. He was appointed Assistant Ballet Master to Jerome Robbins by George Balanchine in 1980 and served in that capacity until 1993. Mr. Cook toured throughout the world with New York City Ballet and with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Friends.

In 1993, Mr. Cook appeared in the film version of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, as Herr Drosselmeier, starring with McCauley Culkin, and has appeared on television numerous times in Dance in America and Live from Lincoln Center on PBS.

Mr. Cook has been a repititeur (one who repeats steps and teaches ballets) for the George Balanchine Trust since 1987. This difficult and exacting work requires traveling to major companies throughout the world to mount Balanchine ballets. The companies Mr. Cook has visited include, The Royal Ballet, The Paris Opera Ballet, The Stuttgart Ballet, La Scala Opera, San Francisco, Pacific Northwest and Fort Worth-Dallas Ballet. Each company is unique and requires a special approach. Mr. Cook is noted for his ability to adapt to different styles and bring the best each has to offer to bring authenticity to a Balanchine piece.

It was at the suggestion of Mr. Balanchine that Mr. Cook began to work as a choreographer to the music of Johannes Brahms. His works for The School of American Ballet and the New York City Ballet Education Department included Seven by Five, Gershwin Preludes, Trio pour Quatre Quers, L'Italiani en Algeri, Rondo and Arctic Fire.

In 1985, Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins asked Mr. Cook to stage Seven by Five for the NYCB. For the first American Music Festival, he also choreographed a new ballet Into the Hopper to William Bolcom's Orphee Serenade.

His last work for the company, Flotezart, choreographed to a flute composition by Mozart, appeared during NYCB's inaugural season of The Diamond Project in May 1992.

In 1996 Mr. Cook traveled with his wife former NYCB ballerina Maria Calegari to Russia along with several writers and musicians to speak about George Balanchine. They visited Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Perm, the birthplace of Serge Diaghiliev. The trip was inspiring as everyone shared their ideas about the choreographer's many facets.

More recently, Mr. Cook has served as Chairman of the Faculty for The Richmond Ballet Center for Dance, from 1997 -1998, and as an Associate Professor at S.U.N.Y. Purchase College from 1998 -1999.

Mr. Cook is continuing his work for The George Balance Trust with such notable companies as The Dance Theater of Harlem, The Colorado Ballet, The Fort Worth-Dallas Ballet and The Cincinnati Ballet.

Mr. Cook and Miss Calegari, his partner for many years at New York City Ballet, have recently launched a web-based personal consulting service for dancers, Talking Technique.