Posted 07 August 2003 - 09:13 AM
Villella explained how the ballet works before they showed it -- how many of you were familiar with the structure of the ballet before seeing it? Did it make any difference in your enjoyment of it once you learned the structure? (I often ask a similar question with art. You can enjoy a painting not knowing anything about its artist, origins, meaning but it can enhance your viewing of it once you know.)
Posted 07 August 2003 - 10:30 AM
I'm of two minds about reading this kind of interpretation before seeing something for the first time. On the one hand, it can prepare you for what you're going to see, but on the other hand it can inhibit your own response (especially true in the case of a writer with Croce's firepower – you start to see things her way whether you want to or not).
I also liked this particular video. I thought the ballet came across well, although the massed grouping of the finale doesn't have the impact it would in the theatre.
Posted 07 August 2003 - 11:38 AM
Along the same lines, I also watched Monotones II, my favorite ballet. Took Hans' dead-choreographer test and came up Ashton. It's my week!
Posted 07 August 2003 - 12:38 PM
Yeah, you could go either way. I don't usually bone up on ballet before I go, but I certainly do when I go to the opera. With art, I usually go with the initial response, then read up on it, then look at it again -- of course, this is easy because it only takes a few moments to look at a painting.
Giannina -- Yes, the version I saw was with Merrill Ashley. She is wonderful. I got her Dancing With Balanchine book from Amazon's used book service -- it took them 7 months to get it for me but I'm so glad I have it now!
Posted 07 August 2003 - 02:19 PM
In her book (which I loved), Ashley describes her difficulty in 4T's doing the fourth-position jumps exactly as Balanchine wanted them. An interesting insight into the piece.
Piccolo, I once had a conversation with a painter (whose dog was in my dog's playgroup), who said that he would spend an afternoon at a museum studying three or fewer paintings. I was astonished, only because as an amateur, I also preferred to spend time with a small number of paintings. When possible (and it isn't always), I like to take a quick survey of an exhibition and then return to immerse myself in maybe four or five favorites.
Posted 08 August 2003 - 10:10 AM
Posted 08 August 2003 - 11:23 AM
Yes, Ashley looks beautiful on the tape, doesn't she? I think she looks better in Four Ts than in the Ballo della Regina tape, although the latter is pretty awesome, too.
Posted 08 August 2003 - 11:34 AM
Posted 08 August 2003 - 12:10 PM
According to an old Village Voice article published when the first of these tapes were released by Nonesuch, those two ballets were kept out for varying reasons not released. The two, while invaluable to us now, probably don't show Farrell or McBride at their best. Maybe that is why they were not released. However, people do have them off TV and in Librarys. I know there is one at Columbia U. because I used to watch it there
Personally, I love these tapes. Re-thought for the studio by Balanchine, they really capture the ballets' spirit, if not the stage experience. I prefer the style of recording to stage recording, such as seen for Baryshnikov's Don Q or Le Corsaire. The whole series that was done this way, including Martha Graham and Paul Taylor (I think their was one or two more modern dance ones) are also very fine. Although they didn't carry over the Villella commentary, the store bought tapes do have inserts that give a little background to the tapings.
As for the Balanchine, the casts are culled from the best dancers at NYCB during the mid-70s. I think the 4Ts is a very strong performance, especially Ashley.
As for Art, I guess I try to get the best of both worlds If I'm seeing a story ballet, I try to read just enough so that I'm not going, "Who's that? Why is he doing that? I thought she loved him, not the other guy..." But then it's nice to do some research and possibly see it again. For museums, I do the same and then go back and look closely at the few that really caught my eye. And I always buy the exhibit book, to pour over the plates and read the text without feeling rushed.
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