Posted 12 August 2003 - 04:56 AM
This was reinforced by seeing the short film, Act I only, and that condensed, of Excelsior. There, the Spirit of Light was completely mime -- whatever the equivalent of a bass is in a ballerina -- and the ballerina was demicaractere, quick and brilliant, the only soloist in a grand ballabile of corps dances and processions (she was the Spirit of Civilization). The Spirit of Liight presided.
Posted 12 August 2003 - 06:12 AM
That’s so interesting, because in so many Balanchine ballets, it’s the second soloist, not the ballerina, who is the organizing principle of the work (Tchaikovsky No. 2, both Emeralds and Rubies, Gigue in Mozartiana).
Posted 12 August 2003 - 06:26 AM
I'd never noticed the similarities between the Divert ballerinas and the Sleeping B fairies until I saw Farrell's company do Divert last season -- it was a very old-fashioned staging, or at least they danced in the way, I'm guessing, that Farrell did when she first danced it, and production was much more "classical" than we're used to seeing in a Balanchine ballet.
I did see one staging, by Colleen Neary, of "Rubies" (for PNB) where the "second ballerina" was Queen Bee and the leading couple was reduced to her sidekicks, and thought the balance was off. But maybe....just maybe.....
Posted 12 August 2003 - 11:54 AM
Posted 12 August 2003 - 12:15 PM
R S Edgecombe, on Aug 12 2003, 03:54 PM, said:
Posted 12 August 2003 - 01:57 PM
Posted 12 August 2003 - 03:30 PM
Posted 13 August 2003 - 09:27 AM
Roma, on Aug 12 2003, 09:12 AM, said:
Posted 13 August 2003 - 09:46 AM
Re: Neary’s Rubies. I can see how it might be tempting for a stager to present the role she happened to have danced as THE role in a ballet, but probably about as desirable as having an overbearing Lilac.
Rodney, judging from pictures and descriptions, Marie-Jeanne was a soubrette type dancer—small, virtuosic, and quick. I often get the feeling that whenever you have a soubrette doing a role in a classical (or romantic) vein, you also get a danseuse noble that acts like a spindle around which everything is wound (I am thinking of the tall girl in Rubies, Myrtha, Lilac). But the classical ballerina doesn’t need anyone else; she IS the Queen Bee . Of course, there are too many exceptions to this in every direction. No idea where that would put “Mozartiana” with it's classical ballerina and a male second soloist.
Posted 13 August 2003 - 09:55 AM
Roma, on Aug 13 2003, 01:46 PM, said:
Posted 13 August 2003 - 10:00 AM
Posted 13 August 2003 - 10:12 AM
And sometimes I wonder if maybe it's not a joke
Posted 13 August 2003 - 12:15 PM
When Patricia Neary staged Serenade for the Cape Town company, they danced it in a demure, gentle, British way, and I thought that S was the most Ashtonian of all the B ballets I had seen--and that, I should add, is too, too few for my liking. Then I saw a tape of the NYCB in S, and it found it ELECTRIC by comparison. The ballet went at almost double the speed, and the dancers were at least a head higher than their Cape Town counterparts, all enormously precise and fleet (soubrette precise and fleet) but LEGGY. I had never seen anything like it, and once again threw up my hands in despair at trying to fathom out the taxonomy of dancers, which always scrambles itself the moment I think I've got it down!
Posted 13 August 2003 - 05:33 PM
Posted 13 August 2003 - 06:42 PM
I wish there were footage of Marie-Jeanne for us to see that would allow us to know what her dancing was like.
I think in a sense, when Tanaquil le Clercq arrived, Balanchine DID have that leggy creature you think he was waiting for. But I think there's a lot of evidence that Balanchine adored the way Marie-Jeanne danced (Allegra Kent, too).
But from what I've read and heard, Balanchine was fascinated not only by Marie-Jeanne's speed, but by her dance imagination (as he would be again in even greater degree by Kent's and especially Farrell's). She had fast, very long feet -- so when she went on pointe, the change in imagery was quite startling -- her legs became very long.
I have met Marie-Jeanne, and she told me when I asked that in Ballet Imperial he asked her to "do something jazzy" in all those places in the first movement cadenza where the ballerina now does a double swivel. She said she couldn't tell me exactly WHAT it was she did, but she threw herself into it, it was a wild move, and he loved it.
I met her about 10 years ago at the home of the ballet's seconda donna, Gisella Caccialanza (who married Lew Christensen and settled in SanFrancisco), who was a very different sort of dancer, but rather a similar person -- down to earth, sweet to the core, both of them such refreshing, lovely people. Mrs. Christensen had been Cecchetti's last protege, and had left Italy with her mother for the US while still a teen-ager. I HAVE seen home movies of HER dancing in the 30's - -from when Ballet Caravan was on tour in South America -- and her dancing was light, soft, VERY fluid and supple. The film showed her at the barre and in some partnered work and a little in the center, but did not show the jump she was famous for -- but she could do double saut de Basques, famously.
ATM711, I can well imagine Tallchief as being a much more vivid and memorable personality in hte second-girl role than Caccialanza.... Tallchief has a formidable side to her stage personality....
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