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Hagar


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#16 atm711

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Posted 08 November 2003 - 06:25 AM

Well, Paul, you brought it up :rolleyes: I do not agree that a beautiful woman is not credible as Hagar. If she is a beauty, I think it strengthens the fact that she is so repressed, it's not her looks that keep her that way. Nora Kaye was an attractive woman and it was this quality that I missed when I saw Wilson; Wilson looked like an old-maid schoolmarm sitting on those steps, and one could be surprised when the Friend showed her attention. Hagar was a desirable woman and did not know it; that fellow across the way knew it, and just waited. Beauty is not an excuse for an ineffective Hagar.

#17 Alexandra

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Posted 08 November 2003 - 07:38 AM

Hagar's beauty -- an interesting point. (I don't think it's a sexist one at all, Paul.) I could argue this both ways. Remember Polanski's "Repulsion"? A girl who's desperately lonely and so afraid of men she freezes at kindness and kills when the very nice young man, sensing her loneliness, tries to reach out for her. The girl was Catherine Deneuve, and her astonishing beauty made the character more interesting. What had happened to that child?

What if Hagar IS a beauty? The poor Older Sister (both parents gone, run off or dead, the sister is responsible for the moral upbringing of those two girls....one troubled with an all too active fantasy life, the other a minx in the making).

Nora Kaye was a striking woman, from photos. I agree with atm -- I thought I was the only perosn alive who didn't find Wilson definitive in this role. I never saw Kaye, but I always thought Wilson's Hagar made the ballet about a woman who was ugly. She was repulsed by the Man from the House Opposite and his nocturnal activities -- I never got the idea that she was also attracted to him, or sexually curious.

#18 Paul Parish

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Posted 08 November 2003 - 09:39 AM

All these things are kind of in hte past now, and the new historicists make it difficult for us to get back to the emotions associated with certain kinds of looks--

But I certainly agree with you about Kaye -- and I am absolutely certain she was staggering in the role. She was a strikingly beautiful woman who nevertheless could portray that kind of hunger that gay men felt condemned to have to suffer and never have appeased - rather like Judy Garland, she could embody that condition of being condemned to a form of starvation...

And that's partly because she looked Jewish -- in a period when Jews were still outsiders looking in.

Hagar CAN be beautiful -- she just can't be conventionally pretty. She's got to be a "non-contender" ( "I coulda been a CONTENDER!")

#19 Thalictum

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Posted 08 November 2003 - 10:19 AM

The most salient quality about Hagar is that she is an outsider -- for WHATEVER reason.

#20 Alexandra

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Posted 08 November 2003 - 10:53 AM

Yes, I think I'd agree with that, Thalictum -- and so she could be beautiful or hideous, or just plain ordinary.

What about Kathy Moore? Did anyone see her Hagar? (I did, and she was a dancer I admired profuselyl, but, as with Wilson, I couldn't FEEL what I'd read I was supposed to feel.)

#21 Dale

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Posted 08 November 2003 - 11:25 AM

I saw Moore and was very impressed. My only other Hagar came in the video with Wilson. I've become quite interested in this ballet, so I've got to do some research and look at the silent films of Kaye at the library.

I think one of the reasons I've disagreed with some of the critics is they keep pointing out that the ballet is old fashioned. But although our sexual mores have changed to an extent (but not everywhere), there are many things in the ballet that still hold true and I think Paul and Thalictum hit on it - she's an outsider looking in. Certain (I'd venture to say most) human characteristics don't change - the need to feel loved and understood is still important, the fear of being alone, exploring our sexuality and our ability to love... And Paul, I'd agree with the connection to Tennessee Williams - watching the ballet reminded me of the play Sweet Bird of Youth.

I think I read it in a review (or on the board) recently, but to really get inside these characters takes time in the studio and on stage. I think maybe ABT should have stuck to Murphy and McKerrow and given them an extra performance. Kent really didn't work for me, not that she wasn't trying. I hope, despite the large space of the Met, that ABT puts this ballet on in the Spring Season (I know they're taking it on the tour to Cleveland and elsewhere) so the casts can continue to develop. And maybe bring in a former Hagar such as Wilson, who (I think) coached McKererow for a Washington Ballet production.

#22 Thalictum

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Posted 08 November 2003 - 11:46 AM

It is very disappointing to me as well that ABT refuses to hire Tudor's former assistant, Airi Hynninen. She notated many of Tudor's ballets and knows them inside and out -- and more than just the steps.

I saw Kathy Moore first in 1987 when ABT was in Los Angeles. I thought she was bland then but by the time she last performed the role in 1991 I was moved by her performance. It does require time, thought and repeated performances, but Hagar in my opinion requires a more dynamic, even volcanic dancer than Kent, perhaps with a more mobile torso.

I also loved Leslie Browne and Magalie Messac in the part. I saw Cynthia Gregory's one and only performance and was impressed, although Tudor was not. Lise Houlton was also a first class interpreter of Tudor as Hagar and Caroline, et.al.
I was always at the edge of my seat watching Pillar of Fire -- until this season. McKerrow's second performance was vastly improved, however.

Edited by Thalictum, 08 November 2003 - 11:47 AM.


#23 Paul Parish

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Posted 08 November 2003 - 07:34 PM

Dale, Thalictum, what you're saying makes senseto me. THanks for sharing the knowledge you have of the performance and rehearsal tradition......

Dale, I hope you'll share with us how you respond to Kaye on the film "at the Library......" -- what a fantastic resource, how marvellous to be able to get to it without having to cross the continent.....

#24 Dale

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Posted 08 November 2003 - 10:59 PM

Paul, there are few videos I hope to look for (and a few articles) - there's a four-minute clip in the 40s and another one from the 50s, and a performance with sound done by Swedish Ballet, which worked closely with Tudor.

Does anybody know if Kirkland ever did Hagar?

#25 djb

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Posted 08 November 2003 - 11:37 PM

Hmm. Well, I never thought the reason Hagar was an outsider was because she was unattractive or thought she was unattractive, and I didn't get the feeling that Sallie Wilson played her that wasy. (And I never thought she was unattractive, either). I agree that she's an outsider for whatever reason. I suppose I never thought about why she's an outsider, but just accepted the fact that she is.

#26 atm711

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 04:12 AM

Alexandra, you said:---"She was repulsed by the Man from the House Opposite and his nocturnal activities--I never got the idea that she was also attracted to him, or sexually curious"----That's where Hugh Laing comes in :unsure: I found the sexual attracion to be very strong with Kaye and Laing, and some say it continued off stage as well.


Dale, when doing your research on Kaye, I wish you would add Annabelle Lyon, too. I never saw her as the younger sister, but it is said hers was the definitive performance. As much as I try, I cannot find a description of her interpretation. For those who have not seen the ballet the best description I have read was written by Edwin Denby and can be found in his book "Looking At the Dance".

#27 nysusan

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 08:51 AM

I saw Pillar many times in the 70ís - all with Sallie Wilson as Hagar. Without even thinking about it I have always assumed that Hagar was homely. Thatís why I wondered whether I would like Murphy,Kent or McKerrow in the role.

After seeing them I have to agree that Hagarís looks arenít important, what matters is that she is portrayed as an outsider, a misfit, and that the dancer be able to express & project her inner emotions through Tudorís choreography.

#28 Thalictum

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 08:54 AM

Isn't Lyon still alive? Why doesn't somebody interview her about her interpretation?

Kirkland never danced Hagar.

#29 Paul Parish

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 09:32 AM

Kirkland's interpretation would have been worth walking a mile to see..... THat's a very intriguing idea...

PS -- speaking of intrigued, I'd love to know the source of your screen-name, Thalictum.....

#30 bingham

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Posted 09 November 2003 - 12:34 PM

i did not see it but Natalia Makarova danced Hagar.There are pictures of her w/ G Young and Paolo Bortoluzzi in her "Dance Autobiography" book.I guess A Tudor did not like her performance since she did not dance the role again.
Did anyone see her?

Joe


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