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Nureyev Triple Bill


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#1 beckster

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 01:20 AM

I went to see this last night, and wondered if anyone else had been and what they thought. I had very mixed feelings about it and I'd be interested to hear from other people. Perhaps I'm in the wrong forum?

#2 Brendan McCarthy

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 09:24 AM

No Beckster - you're not in the wrong place. I was appalled by the divertissements - not by the dancing, but by Ms Guillem's friend's background film, which subverted in a completely mindless way the aesthetic of the live dance.

While the individual items were danced, a large screen simultaneously showed clumsily edited images of Nureyev in performance, in studio and in interview. So Guillem/Hilaire in a pdd from In the Middle had to compete with slo-mo'd film of Bayadere, while Kobborg/Cojocaru in a pdd from La Syphide had to compete with Nureyev in Don Q etc. etc.

Multimedia has its place: but its use here was artless and witless - just an unbelievably awful bricolage, with no attempt at synchonicity or dialogue with the live performance, but, instead, completely disrupting it. I'm usually temperate enough about an evening at the Opera House, even the not-so-good ones, but this programme really offended me.

#3 su-lian

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 01:20 PM

I was just wondering, how did they do for th music? Because apparently (I only read some articles about it), there were bits of interviews of Nureyev in the background too, so were the dancers dancing to the music and the background film silent (which I suppose), or were the dancers dancing to silence and the film was not silent (which seems strange, but it's pointless showing interviews if they're going to be silent), or what? It just seems very strange to me, and even more since you can't watch a film and dancing at the same time, so what are you supposed to watch?

#4 Brendan McCarthy

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 01:44 PM

The background film was silent, while the live dancers performed, with the sound being faded up in the gaps between the various divertissements. Su-Lian's point about not being able to watch a film and dancing at the same time is well made. In the orchestra stalls, where I sat, it was impossible to watch either with any attention.

#5 coda

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 03:49 PM

Clement Crisp explained it in his review in the most intelligible way:
"There is a rule in the theatre: audiences can only look at one thing at a time. (Conjurors know this: watch one distracting hand, and you don't see what the other is up to.) Put words on a screen on stage, and we will obligingly try and read them. Play film, and we will watch it."
I wanted and tried hard to see Guillem and Hilaire in "In the Middle..." but Nureyev was reigning on the screen - and he won WITH EASE!

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 07:02 PM

Originally posted by coda
Nureyev was reigning on the screen - and he won WITH  EASE!


Thank you for that, coda -- maybe not so bad a tribute to Nureyev after all :) (although to have the filmed image of a dead man overshadow today's dancers was probably not the company's intention!)

#7 Brendan McCarthy

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 11:05 PM

Alexandra makes an interesting, and - I suspect - accurate, deduction! Giannandrea Poesio, the Spectator's dance critic, reports that Teddy Kumakawa refused point-blank to dance his Corsaire solo, unless the film was switched off at that point.

#8 su-lian

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Posted 11 April 2003 - 12:36 AM

Then they should have shown only the film, if that's what everyone was watching, and especially since the people watching the film must have been a bit frustrated by the fact that it was silent. Or shown them separately. In Paris, there was the Grand Défilé, then there was a (short) movie (with comments by Laurent Hilaire) about Nureyev, showing interviews, extracts from ballets...and then the dancers danced. But this was only a short movie (about ten minutes), so I don't suppose it could have been done with a longer film like the one in London. It seems a pity.

#9 beckster

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Posted 11 April 2003 - 01:36 AM

I was actually glad of the film during the last Divertissement, Surge. I really didn't like this piece, so after a few minutes just watched the film and nothing else. The rest of them, I actually wanted to watch both the dancing and the film, since I am quite new to the ballet audience and don't know much of the repertoire or many of the dancers. They should have put the film on during the intermissions. Then, those of us who were interested could have seen Nureyev without distractions and without lengthening the overall performance time.

#10 Mel Johnson

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Posted 11 April 2003 - 03:40 AM

Love that word "bricolage"! I know it means "do-it-yourself" or "a cobbling-together", but it recalls the days of muzzle-loading artillery, when some of the men were equipped with harnesses called "bricoles" and hauled the big gun around in the battery by main force! Good choice of noun, Brendan!

#11 vila

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Posted 11 April 2003 - 05:50 AM

Having seen both the tribute at the Paris Opera and at the Royal Ballet, my preference will not sway to the latter. Not exactly fair to compare though : one was a one-off with nearly-impossible-to-get-overpriced-seats/overpriced programs with a certain amount of pomp and circumstance whereas the other is a triple bill evening staged several nights on …
I was quite distracted by the divertissements (or was it "diverted by the distractions" ? :))as well. I was dying to see In the middle performed by Guillem and Hilaire after so many years and managed only to catch split images with my focus going all over the scene/screen, avid not to let anything go by. Rapidly I then chose to focus only on the dancers (reassured by the fact that most of the archives were taken from the INA and therefore accessible) but whatever the degree of concentration (mine was seriously put to test during the Sylphide as I did NOT wish to miss a single beat) things did get lost and onstage movements were eaten up by the giant–like Rudi reigning from the screen. The working title of the Forsythe morceau kept ringing in my ears : Impressing the Czar…
Screening the video installation during the interval would have certainly made it so much more “tangible”, were it an option. I remember a Sylvie Guillem evening at the Theatre des Champs Elysées some years ago where films were projected while she proceeded to change costumes and that made up nicely for the time. I had been actually looking forward to Françoise Ha Van Kern's footage, whose documentary on Guillem (incidentally on French telly next week) is wonderful. Pity too for the closing item, Surge, (urgh ! and say no more) as opportunities are getting more and more rare to see Hilaire dance in Paris.

Interesting evening nonetheless which also gave us offerings such as Apollo (birth and all), the 3rd act of Raymonda with a beaming Guillem, Kobborg’s exquisite James and that fleeting Kumakawa moment (was he there or on the other side and is he already gone ??? ) of sheer beauty…


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