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Watch those old ballet tapes!


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#1 Giannina

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 09:56 AM

If blogs had been started sooner I would have started one for these impressions. I have been transferring my VCR tapes to DVD’s and have watched quite a few of them in the process. It has been a wonderful, eye opening experience. I’ve mentioned a few: the perfection of Loscavio in “Who Cares” and Merrill Ashley in “Four Temperaments”; there are many others which I’ve already forgotten, darn it. There’s Bocca portraying Romeo as a teenager in love and acting goofy, as teenage boys do. There’s McBride and Bart Cook in “Union Jack” reminding you that ballet can be fun and light hearted; no one is more light hearted than Cook. Much to my surprise I have enjoyed 2 ballets that I’ve always...well...I don’t like using the word “hate” but it comes to mind: Forsyth’s “In The Middle Somewhat Elevated” and Balanchine’s “Western Symphony”. I am not a fan of Forsyth’s choreography but I watched Guillem in “In the Middle……” and paid attention to the classicism of Forsyth’s choreography. It’s there, just very askew. I loved it! I found it beautiful and exciting! The music to the ballet is percussion sounds. I wondered how the dancers could dance to sound rather than tones, and then heard Forsyth “singing”/mimicking the “music” by grunts and “ah’s” and various other noises. It was addictive, and the sounds did indeed become music. Having barely recovered from that I watched “Western….”. Now I just plain old don’t like this ballet AT ALL, including the black pointe shoes and black tights, but this time…... Robert LaFosse was so enjoyable as the clueless cowpoke meeting the hard as nails saloon girl (dead-pan Saland). The major deciding factor was Peter Boal in the final pdd. What a wonderful dancer he is. I’ve seen dancers who perfectly perform complicated steps seemingly with time to spare. With Boal I got the impression he wasn’t going to be able to finish the step within the framework of the allowed music, and then at the last possible mini-second he completes the step right on the music’s beat and it’s perfect. I was in tears during a ballet I really don’t like.

The moral of the story is: watch your taped ballets every now and then. Your eye and your taste change and it’s like a whole new set of ballets.

I really do love ballet!

Giannina

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 10:15 AM

Great topic! Thank you. Re-watching tapes can be an enriching experience (as you've written) and it can also be rather sobering -- a dancer you thought was absolutely marvelous last Thursday embarrasses you Saturday when you show the tape to a friend, to the point you're positive he hasn't been taking class. (I noticed that Dowell's Oberon changed quite a bit when he'd lived on a shelf next to Plisetskaya's Kitri for a year ;) )

(I'd say, parenthetically, that I agree with what you wrote on "In the Middle." My theory is that Paris can make anything look classical :devil: I liked this ballet very much when I saw a tape of POB dancers, but less so when I saw Frankfurt Ballett do it. While you're going through tapes, if you have the Balanchine biography, watch that "Western Symphony" -- LeClercq was the one who made me love the ballet.)

It is fun -- any more rediscoveries?

#3 Giannina

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Posted 06 October 2003 - 06:13 PM

Continuing with my tape-to-DVD transfers I had a most unusual time watching Swan Lake and Giselle. Bourne's Swan Lake and Ek's Giselle.

Bourne's SL is not my favorite but Cooper is wonderful in it. And, unlike other SL's I cry at the end of this one every time I see it. I don't know why.

Ek's Giselle is alarming! I recalled being shocked by it the first time I watched it but still liking it. I now remember why I was shocked, and even though it's a bit too...shall we say..."earthy" for me I liked it even more. I don't understand much of it; unfortunately some of it I understand all too well! :blushing: The dancing by the leads is superb; strong technique and long lines. At first I thought the choreography was modern but soon realized it's very balletic. I then wondered why Ek hadn't done it on pointe but it was quickly obvious that it would be impossible to do on pointe. I found it surprising that the camera was often aimed away from the main action on stage; when Albrecht's nudity in the final scene was carefully "minimized" I realized why!

We tape these programs for a reason. Watch them! (No, silly; not for the nudity, for the dancing.)

Giannina

#4 pleiades

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 03:30 PM

I have the opposite of the usual situation -- I have a DVD player but not a decent VHS one. While you're individually making your DVD transfers, is anyone doing it in an institutional way? I've found some stuff, but no Balanchine other than the Nutcracker through the 'usual sources.'

#5 rg

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 06:12 PM

if i get your question correctly, you're asking if any commercial distributors are re-issuing what were videotapes as dvds? good question.
alas, as you've already noted and pointed out, the balanchine library that exists on video hasn't been re-issued on dvd. let's hope it's only a matter of time before such a changeover will happen, but until then, the videocassettes are all that's out there.
the general dvd range is limited but there seem to be new titles making their way to dvd slowly.
if your dvd player can deal w/ PAL format DVDs as well as NTSC ones, which i THINK means also having a PAL-compatible monitor, you'd have an already enlarged range of possibilities.

#6 pleiades

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 07:33 PM

I'm pretty sure I'm NTSC only -- didn't realize that standard applied to DVDs as well as video. And yes, you got my question absolutely correctly.

#7 rg

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Posted 08 October 2003 - 04:32 AM

someone more knowledgeable than i am will have to confirm (or deny) my sense that to play PAL dvds one needs not only a player that can read these but also a tv monitor that can comply as well.
but, long story short, dvds are NOT interchangeable from 'region' to 'region' or 'zone'
we here in the US are in region/zone 1; england, etc. i believe is zone/region 2, and the beat goes on.
so does the frustration and confusion.

#8 Dale

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Posted 08 October 2003 - 04:59 AM

Yes, for pal dvd players and VHS players, you have to have either a converter or a special tv. The "world system" types, do the converting for you and is what I would recommend. The world system vhs players have gone down in price the last time I looked from about $800 to $400. It could be lower now. The same thing would probably hold for the DVD player in a few years. But RG is right, you cannot just plug a PAL player to your normal set, it has to do with the electrical current. There tends to be more available on PAL, for ex. the POB is releasing a whole series of new discs of the company performing Nureyev's productions that include a featurette of them rehearsing etc.. with interviews. There are about 4 or so out now, but only Romeo and Juliet is available in the U.S. Who knows if they're going to release the others here. They released the POB Don Q. here earlier this year, but not the Sleeping Beauty.

#9 Ari

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Posted 08 October 2003 - 07:02 AM

There tends to be more available on PAL, for ex. the POB is releasing a whole series of new discs of the company performing Nureyev's productions that include a featurette of them rehearsing etc.. with interviews. There are about 4 or so out now, but only Romeo and Juliet is available in the U.S.  Who knows if they're going to release the others here.  They released the POB Don Q. here earlier this year, but not the Sleeping Beauty.

The recent documentary about the POB, Etoiles: Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet, will be released on a Region 1 (North America) DVD on Oct. 21. Amazon carries it (hint, hint -- see banner at top of page).

Also, multi-region DVD players are available in the U.S. (and other countries). See my post here.

#10 Guest_2totango_*

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 01:59 PM

Bought a new VHS and immediately played Elite Syncopations by the Royal Ballet that we'd recorded off PBS about 4 generations of recorders ago. Thankfully the picture has gotten better. Love Jennifer Penney and Monica Mason. :(

#11 Giannina

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 02:12 AM

Still going thru old tapes and I came across the first Eric Bruhn Competition in 1988. Among those dancing was Lloyd Riggins whom I'd just seen in "Nijinski". He's hardly recognizable he's so young. He danced with Rose Gad and their style is so different than their competitors'...the Bournonville influence: it's pure; there's no better word for it. Wonderful that they both went on to great careers. One thing about Riggins: he wasn't perfect but he recovered from his errors, neatly straightening out missed 5th positions, etc. Also dancing was a very young, and more filled-out, Durante. She, too, showed the promise to come. Wes Chapman was featured; does anyone know what he's doing now? His partner was Bonnie Moore. The 2 of them danced the Sleeping Beauty pdd. Interesting to see Moore in something so classical as she became known for her character roles. Moore and Chapman also danced the Romeo & Juliet balcony pdd and it was simply lovely, really a stellar performance.


Giannina

#12 bingham

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 06:21 AM

Giannina,
Wes Chapman is the AD of Albama Ballet.You were probably thinking of Kathleen Moore who danced a lot of "character" roles( very well too) during her time at ABT.
Joe

#13 Giannina

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 07:32 AM

Thank you, Joe; I'm sure you're right.

Giannina

#14 Alexandra

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 07:36 AM

Giannina, Bonnie Moore came from Washington Ballet and ended up with the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

#15 Giannina

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 08:01 AM

Went back to the credits and it is Bonnie. So I had the name right but the dancing/company wrong. At my age 50% isn't all that bad.

Giannina


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