Posted 13 August 2003 - 08:18 PM
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Posted 15 August 2003 - 06:04 AM
Ari, you are quite right about my ignorance concerning Balanchine. When I was a little boy growing up in the provincial town of Port Elizabeth, I read every book on ballet in the library system--my kind, longsuffering parents taking me from branch to branch every Friday evening, just in the hope that I might turn up something new. There was exactly one on Balanchine--Bernard Taper's, which I read dutifully. However, not having seen a step by Balanchine at the time, I didn't absorb very much--except perhaps that B once had the men support the women in upside-down entrechats because a motif had been inverted at that point in the music. Is that in Taper? I've definitely read it somewhere, though I can't remember the ballet. It must have been to a Bach piece. Since then, I've read some Denby and some Croce, but a large portion of B's output remains unknown to me. Even so, I hold him in the highest artistic esteem--along with Petipa, Ivanov and Ashton. It's just that I have doubts about his niceness--though Petipa and Ashton certainly weren't saints either.
My source for the washing up story is Julie Kavanagh's biography of Ashton, and she reports that A was definitely hurt by it. In fact he felt slighted by the way B treated him, and jokingly (though one imagines with a hint of real suspicion) suggested he might have been behind the fire that destroyed the Tintagel sets and effectively took the ballet out of the NYCB rep. B seems to have looked down on A because he couldn't read music. However, the story as you tell it is much less spiteful, so perhaps the malice was in the eye of the beholder--A's in this case.
Posted 15 August 2003 - 01:56 PM
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Posted 15 August 2003 - 03:32 PM
You get no less than 84 impressions of Balanchine. Highly readable! Cant thank my husband enough who was wise enough to purchase this volume for me while he was working in the Phillipines. He knew nothing of Mr. B. , maybe he had heard me mentioning the name - though I dont think so. Yet, a most appreciated gift, a very good read and a good insight in the opinions of many people, from the very early days to the end.
Posted 16 August 2003 - 05:17 AM
Pamela, that sounds like the very book I need to read. I love behind the scenes takes on ballet. By the way, have you read the anthropological study of the Royal Swedish Ballet--Ballet Across Borders by Helena Wulff? I have just remembered something about Balanchine that restores some of my confidence in his humanity--a photograph of him with a cat in his arms. Now no aleurophile (sp?) can be all bad--even if he choreographs for elephants!
Posted 16 August 2003 - 06:07 AM
Anyway, a story about Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey elephants. The majority of them were born, and still are, in captivity, and have a pretty pampered life, although I can admit I'd rather see free-range elephants. One evening during Prohibition, during a heavy snowstorm, when the circus train pulled into the 59th Street freight yards, the elephants were marched down West Street to the old Madison Square Garden for the next day's show. Emerging from a 47th Street speak-easy were Marc Connolly and Robert Benchley, nicely lubricated from their evening's activity. Out of the blinding snow, the elephants came down the street, with the lead elephant wearing a brilliant battery-powered pair of headlights on a headband, and tail to trunk, the procession passed the silent pair of onlookers. The last elephant held a red lantern on her tail, which she switched back and forth with true elephantine vigor. Connolly asked Benchley, "Did you see that???" "See what?" replied Benchley, and they both retired back into the speak-easy to gain a bit more fortitude.
Posted 16 August 2003 - 07:11 AM
I don't understand this, Rodney. Balanchine's Midsummer opened in 1962, and Ashton's in 1964. Nutcracker, of course, was originally choreographed by Ivanov (1892).
MSND and Nutcracker, where he challenges Ashton on home ground,
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