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Judgement of Paris"insultingly loathsome" ??

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#1 Paquita


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Posted 21 August 2003 - 07:36 AM

Ballet by the Water

  It is an insultingly loathsome ballet that demeans womanhood. To include it in a program that inevitably attracts family audiences verges on irresponsibility.

Tudor, its creator, was one of the 20th century's most influential choreographers, but Judgement was surely his most hatefully trivial, throwaway work. Apart from its woman-as-whore sexism -- to be fair, they ultimately triumph as thieves -- Judgement of Paris is barely competent at the mere level of choreographic craft. To place it on the same bill as Balanchine's Apollo, arguably the greatest ballet ever made, is to tempt disaster, especially when the target of Judgement's whoresome trio is as unconvincingly callow a rouť as Ryan Boorne.

What do you think about Michael Crabb's harsh critique of the ballet? To call it demeaning to women seems to suggest a misunderstanding of the piece's sardonic humour.
As for it's inclusion in the program (Napoli excerpts, Apollo, Judgement of Paris, Intermezzo) being irresponsible, I can see where he is coming from, but have to disagree. I was there both tuesday and yesterday and the audience response was very positive. Everyone thought it was hillarious! Many with young children left after Napoli and Apollo because the program ran quite late. After Napoli excerpts, Karen Kain introduces both Apollo and Judgement. She describes Judgement's sleazy setting, so that those who may be offended may leave (although I think they were few).
Sure, it's not the best ballet to represent an average night at the Hummingbird Centre but the small size of the outdoor stage is limiting and Judgement is a work that fits very well there. Also, it shows new audiences what a variety of styles there are in ballet.

#2 Farrell Fan

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Posted 21 August 2003 - 10:21 AM

I agree that Mr. Crabb must surely have missed the point of Judgment of Paris. Demeans womanhood? It's a spoof on a classic tale. That "whoresome trio" consists of Juno, Venus, and Minerva. Mr. Crabb further betrays an alarming Comstockery when he calls Apollo and Serenade "morally improving work." And the beginning of his review, in praise of a dancer who'd been so spectacular two nights earlier that he "should have been limping," is extremely bizarre.

It's nice to know Canadians were able to enjoy this varied program outdoors and for free, but Mr. Crabb should have stayed in his room.

#3 Alexandra


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Posted 21 August 2003 - 01:54 PM

First, I'm not fond of bookburners. Art should stand on its merits. If you tossed out all art/literature etc. that could be said to demean womanhood, you'd lose about half the canon. Second....well, I agree with what's already been said so well by Paquita and Farrell Fan.

#4 Mel Johnson

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Posted 21 August 2003 - 03:37 PM

I wonder what the ever-so-trendy-PC Mr. Crabb would have made out of Brecht, what with his women characters so defined by the men around them. What of Mother Courage and her two sons? (The mute daughter is another whole matter) What about Grusha in Caucasian Chalk Circle? What in the world would he make of Jenny, in Threepenny Opera? I wonder if he caught the faint aftersmell of verfremdung in this ballet and is just another old Tory in Grits' clothing.

#5 creativejuice



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Posted 21 August 2003 - 07:27 PM

:wink: I have to agree 101% with Paquita. :yes: Quoting a review by budding ballet critic, Michael Goldbarth, of a regular season performance by the National Ballet of Canada:

ďAs for the rest of the eveningÖJudgement of Paris was likewise good fun but belongs on a smaller stage like the Premiere Dance Theatre.Ē 

To compare a light piece like this to Apollo would be similar to a film critic reviewing an Adam Sandler comedy (Happy Gilmore) and bemoaning it canít be on par to a masterpiece like Lawrence of Arabia or Itís A Wonderful Life. I laughed (LOL) viewing Happy Gilmore and watched in awe at the cinematography of Lawrence of Arabia and went through a box full of nose blowers crying my eyes out during Itís A Wonderful Life! You can enjoy both genres of movies-as you can ballets.

Showing Judgement of Paris was perfect for a small venue like Ballet by the Water and also perfect for a mixed card appealing to a wide audience. In this case the audience (as usual) was right! In the end, itís only their opinion that counts. Everybody, even a snobbish critic like Michael Crabb, is entitled to his opinion though. I also think this was an important piece to show if only to make ballet more inviting for those intimidated by the snobbish stigma of its Paris Opera past through serving up the desserts of the ballet. In this case, :P the yummy Lorna Geddes, bouncy Jennifer Fournier, and the sultry Victoria Bertram! :wub:

I think it reasonable to assume Anthony Tudor had no intentions of topping a classic like Apollo when he created this obvious fluff chef díoeuvre back in 1938. I can only surmise that grizzled veteran ballet critic Michael Crabb suffered some sort of heatstroke reviewing under :sweating: the unrelenting hot sun at Harbourfront! :sweating: Crabb spends most of his existence reviewing inside the cozy confines of air-conditioned venues like the Hummingbird Centre.

I was actually quite surprised so much attention was paid to a FREE performance during the pre-season. Perhaps the NBoC has regained its lost glory of the 70s and 80s when Toronto was a hotbed for ballet! Now Iím sorry I couldnít make it down to Ballet by the Water to see what all the hullabaloo was about!

#6 Marga


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Posted 22 August 2003 - 09:25 AM

Judgement of Paris! I was smiling and chuckling throughout. It was so funny! Good, clean fun, despite the "storyline". I don't think that any of the many children in the audience had the knowledge to realize what the characterizations were. All I heard was a lot of joyful children's laughter when Lorna Geddes did her quasi-Betty Boop bit (and who in the world looks more like Betty Boop?), when Jennifer Fournier walked as if she had gotten off a very big horse after a long, tedious ride (apt 2-tiered meaning here!), and Victoria Bertram swung her feathery boa a little too vigorously.

What a great boutique piece! I hardly looked at Ryan Boorne at all as he reacted to the ladies at his little table, I was so intently watching the "girls". These dancers were having a jolly good time acting out their parts, let me tell you, especially Jennifer Fournier, who, as principal, usually dances the romantic ballerina roles. The others -- Lorna Geddes and Victoria Bertram -- are longtime character dancers, having hung up their pointe shoes decades ago.

Bravos to NBofC for including this piece in their repertoire!

#7 Mel Johnson

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Posted 22 August 2003 - 07:10 PM

I'm glad that they chose the program the way they did - from the sublime (Apollo) to the ridiculous (Paris). And the selection of dancers sounds admirable. I was one of the happy few who got to see Agnes de Mille, Lucia Chase, and Maria Karnilova dance the three broads...uh...goddesses, and Tudor himself as Paris. My sides ached!

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