Dance Reclaims Space on PBS’ Schedule

Dance enthusiasts who worried when PBS preempted the first two programs of this season’s “Dance in America” series need not despair, said Jac Venza, executive producer of “Great Performances,” the umbrella for PBS cultural programming. Fans will be able to see works by Nijinsky, Fosse and Balanchine beginning in January.

Venza says that Nijinsky’s “Sacre du Printemps” has been re-scheduled for Jan. 12. The one-hour program, titled “The Search for Nijinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring,’ ” blends dance and documentary. The dance part shows the Joffrey Ballet’s reconstruction of the work’s famed choreography, once thought to be totally lost. The documentary includes interviews of Dame Marie Rambert (who assisted Nijinsky and appeared in it herself) and composer Igor Stravinsky.

Explaining the preemptions, Venza said, “Part of programming means trying to put things where they’ll do best.” “Rite of Spring” and Nureyev’s “Cinderella” were both originally scheduled for the holiday season--ultimately poor programming decisions, he said.

Nureyev’s “Cinderella,” a re-broadcast, was preempted in favor of a new program more appropriate for Christmas, Venza said. “Live From Lincoln Center: a Classical Jazz Christmas With Wynton Marsalis” replaced “Cinderella” on Dec. 22.


“Rite of Spring” was to air Thanksgiving weekend during sweeps month. Since holidays are a time for family viewing, even staunch dance lovers probably wouldn’t watch a special interest show, Venza said. Replacing the ballet with “An Evening With Alan Jay Lerner,” was also a way to “protect it” from being overlooked during the sweeps.

“These programs already have a remarkablely low audience,” Venza said. “If we put them on when the networks are blockbusting with new shows--it’s just not the time to put on special interest programming.”

The “Dance in America” season will continue with “The American Indian Dance Theater” on Feb. 2 followed by “Bob Fosse: Steam Heat” on Feb. 23. The three remaining programs, “Dancing for Mr. B: Six Balanchine Ballerinas, “The Margot Fonteyn Story” and “A Tudor Evening” do not have firm air dates.

MUSIC NOTES: Leonard Bernstein and Michael Tilson Thomas will be artistic directors for the first Pacific Music Festival to be held in Sapporo, Japan, June 26-July 13, 1990. The festival will include performances by the London Symphony Orchestra, led by its president Bernstein and principal conductor, Thomas; the Japan Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra under Akio Watanabe; the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, and the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra, a group consisting of 115 young musicians from the Pacific region. Organizers hope the event will help stimulate interest in the music and culture of the Pacific region. . . . KPSC (88.5-FM) Palm Springs officially signed on the air Dec. 1, bringing classical music to the desert as the the fourth public radio station in the USC Radio network, the entertainment and media group of the university. A newly constructed transmitter and antenna in the Little San Bernardino Mountains will broadcast 24-hour classical music, news and information to most of the Coachella Valley. . . . The Pasadena Symphony will present Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, Opus 60 (“Leningrad”) at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 13 in the Pasadena Civic Auditorium as the fifth installment of music director Jorge Mester’s Shostakovich cycle. . . . The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra has been awarded a $50,000 challenge grant from the California Arts Council to present and promote a five program festival commemorating the 200th anniversary of the death of Mozart in 1991. The Chamber Orchestra is one of 11 large budget organizations in the state to receive an award.

PEOPLE: Zarin Mehta will succeed Edward Gordon’s 22-year tenure as executive director and chief operating officer of the Ravinia Festival. Mehta, brother of conductor Zubin Mehta, has been managing director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra since 1981.