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.
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