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About DanielBenton

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
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    Iowa City
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  1. I just ran across a Macaulay review of NYCB in London in Ballet Review 1984 (12:1, Spring; 84-96) in which he strenuously defends Balanchine and the NYCB dancers against the preponderance of British critics.
  2. Very late in GB' life: Here is the quotation from D'Amboise's book: In the year before his death, I often escorted Balanchine to visit the legendary Dr. James Gould for ear tests. Killing time in the waiting room, I once asked, "Mr. B, in the history of all the ballerinas you've taught and choreographed for-from the earliest days, Toumanova, Baronova, Riabouchinska, all the way up till today-who do you con­ sider the most talented? The most unusual? " He immediately answered : "Allegra. She is the most gifted. She is missing only one ele­ ment in 'the formula to be perfect .' . . . It's like chemistry in a jar . Energy, lots of it, must be there. That's the soup that everything cooks in. Then you put in ambition and humility. 'Ah, I'm not good enough yet, I can be better.' But, there must be balance-not so much humil­ity that you end up saying, Tm not good enough, I'll never be ready.' You must have in the formula pride, but not so much that the dancer says, 'I don't do matinees.' You can be stupid and still dance beautifully, but you can't become great without intelligence . . . Allegra has the right ingredients, but something prevents her from being consistent. I can't count on her. Still, I keep her on salary and tell her, 'When you're ready to dance, come dance. If you dance one ballet a year, it's enough.' She's worth it.''
  3. Cubanmiamiboy - Yes is was from the D'Amboise autobiography: he (J.D.) asked Balanchine the question.
  4. A poet friend of mine, upon seeing the 1973 Berlin video of Allegra in the Symphony in C 2nd movement, said she has a nobility about her...Her autobiographical book referenced above shows her to be an extremely intelligent, articulate, and very witty observer or herself and her own life, which, off the stage, was often a mess! What did Balanchine think of her? Page 31, Gloria Contreras: Diary of a Choreographer. What I Learned from Balanchine, Jorge Pinto Books, Inc., New York, 2008. "I just got back from a rehearsal of Concerto Barocco, which I attended as a spectator. It’s set to Bach and the choreography rivals the music in its beauty and depth. Allegra Kent and Violette Verdy are the soloists. The former, as usual, has a harmonious style and is delightful to watch. Violette has a lot of personality and is a very good ballerina, but she’s going through hell because she still doesn’t know the piece. During the rehearsals she concentrates and is respectful to the choreographers and amiable with her companions, without talking down to the girls in the corps de ballet. At the end of the rehearsal I went up to Balanchine and told him my opinion of Concerto Barocco, that it’s profoundly religious. I know that he liked the idea because his eyes shone and a subtle smile passed across his face. But his answer was “Allegra is divine!” "
  5. for information on Balanchine I would recommend, in addition to the "direct" biographies, the autobiographies of d'Amboise and Villella (cited above), and Allegra Kent's autobiography"Once a Dancer". All give nuanced views of GB by his finest dancers. The Charles Joseph book cited above is also very fine, somewhat muscially technical, and contains important information about the aesthetics and principles formulated by GB and Stravinsky. Also Elizabeth Kattner-Ulrich's "The Early Life and Work of George Balanchine." Yuri Slonimsky's article in Ballet Review: "Balanchine: The Early Years" and Elizabeth Souritz' "Soviet Choreographers in the 1920s" are wonderful in giving context to Balanchine and Soviet dance in the post-revolutionary period . I am wary of Kendall's book because it is both speculative and not a primary source. Goldner's books can be a useful list if you have seen the works she describes from her viewpoint. Joseph Mazo's "Dance is a Contact Sport" is quite an unusual and good read about GB and the NYCB for one full year (1974).
  6. I don't know what her background was. My surmise is that is was marketing. with little or no orientation to the arts. I was stunned by her remarks. I believe she is no longer at Iowa Public Television.
  7. A few years ago I queried the director of Iowa Public Television as to why they did not schedule the Great Performances series episode of the School of American Ballet spring program (which was broadcast in early December of that year). She replied that it was not in keeping with midwestern values and in lieu of the regularly-scheduled Great Performances they would show some locally-produced program from Minnesota Public Television. I did not call her a moron, nitwit, nor plebian. I did not tell her that a woman from Coralville Iowa is in the NYCB corps de ballet. Nor did I tell her that our friends' daughter is a scholarship student in the SAB summer program. I did tell her my New York friends would be laughing at her response.
  8. In Iowa City, I saw the preview performance of Joffrey Nutcracker. The musical acumen was perfunctory at best; the transitions were abrupt and thoughtless; the dancing was adequate. Mostly it was a visual-effects show with minimal emphasis on both dance and music.
  9. Quiggin, Sandik, Drew, et al: Many thanks for this very articulate discussion of the influences on Balanchine and Ashton. The more Balanchine I watch, the more I see both Petipa and the early post-revolutionary Russians, in whatever mix he chose for a particular piece.
  10. Amen to that. It does seem like the starburst is more difficult to accomplish without the staircase; the lighting seems to be critical to its success.
  11. Just my opinion, as a composer - Apollo makes much more structural sense without the birth scene. There is a structural coherence to the shorter version including the music preceding curtain up, which makes the birth scene somewhat superfluous.
  12. Wonderful interview; can't wait for Part II.
  13. Can someone tell me who the soloists are starting @ 5:52 of La Valse?
  14. Amen!
  15. Thanks jmsu for the discussion of Sonatine. I knew something was missing and could not quite identify what it was!