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Martins Balanchine programNew programme


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#31 jorgen

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 04:32 PM

I have nothing against Caroline Cavallo, but I think similar hagiographies can be put together also for other RDB dancers, for example Silja Schandorff and Rose Gad.

#32 Alexandra

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 09:27 PM

Exactly, Jorgen. And, like Effy, I know people, including dancers and "experts," who prefer Gad or Schandorff over Cavallo, and who were surprised when she was made a principal. I'm not surprised there are opposing views -- there usually are.

I don't have anything against Ms. Cavallo either, but she's not the company's prima ballerina assoluta, and I think her career should be looked at in perspective. Anna, yes, she did dance the leading roles in the ballets that you list, but she was not first cast in most of them, either at premieres or repremieres. As Jorgen points out, one could compile the same list for several others. To be fair to all the RDB dancers, though, they've had so many directors in the past decade, each with a different aesthetic, that making a list of who danced what doesn't say as much about the dancers as it does about the directors, in some cases. (Michelle Larsen was the Sylph and Juliet of choice a few years back.) There were dancers who were benched by Schaufuss who resurfaced under Gielgud, only to disappear again with Eliason, etc. Or the other way 'round.

There are directors who like to use Cavallo, yes, but I've also interviewed directors who did not, for some of the same reasons expressed here. As for the critics, I don't have the impression that Cavallo is universally acclaimed (I don't read all the reviews, but I do get regular reports, as several of my friends are critics there.) She gets mixed reviews -- perhaps less so from one critic than the others -- as do the other dancers.

I also think it should be said that the "Bournonville Award" is not the Oscars. I hope my Danish friends will forgive me for saying that there seem to be a lot of odd little awards that pop up there from time to time -- I remember a Hans Christian Andersen award that disappeared as suddenly as it appeared a few years back, for example (and that had nothing to do with H.C. Andersen), and various Scandinavian Friendship and Cooperation Prizes. It's not that there's a venerable Bournonville Trust that's been protecting his works all these years and gives out awards to the greatest exemplar of his style, voted on by all the members of an Academy.

Effy, I don't think comparing dancers is wrong at all! I think most people do it, and I thought the way you laid out your comparisons was very useful and very interesting. We all have measuring sticks, and it's interesting to read when someone can set out why so clearly.

#33 Alexandra

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 10:06 PM

Aspirant, are you there? I thought of you tonight, watching the Suzanne Farrell Ballet do "Serenade." Bonnie Pickard did the Girl Who Falls Down, one clip in the hair, which was starting to come out of the clip from her last entrance before the fall, suggesting perhaps she'd started loosening it in the wings. When she fell, she did one big, bold movement and got the clip out and the hair fell (and, with her red hair, she looked beautiful, dancing with it long and loose).

#34 aspirant

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 02:50 AM

That sounds better than all the elbows that I've been seeing as of late!

#35 Effy

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 05:09 AM

A late reply to Anna. I am sorry that I haves missed this thread over the last couple of days. I have been following the Royal Danish Ballet for more than 20 years and I do not know about the prestigeus Bournonville Award. I know of The Bournonville Legat, which is one of several internal awards within the RDB. In Denmark the higest awards for a dancer would be either the The Theatre Pokal, The Reumert Dancer of the year award or Niels Mathiasens Memory award but in general the are few awards for dancers and we are not an awardtuned nation.
I do not question that Cavallo is a dancer of a high caliber and a strong and steady performer. I have rooted for her when she got her first opportunities in Serenade many years ago and I have rooted a lot since. Yes she has been in a lot of productions but the RDB usually over the period of approx. 3 years each production are kept in repetoire allows 3 -5 dancers for each part. For Martins Swan Lake the premiere was danced by Silja Schandorf with Kenneth Greve, Heidi Ryom as a farewell performance with Hubbe, Cavallo with Massot and Gitte Lindstrom with Mads Blangstrup (then very young and the cast I was told was Martins "invention" and favorate cast). ForSleeping beauty some years back four casts was scheduled Gad/possorov, Cavallo,Riggins, Schandorff.Greve (who later got the television version) and Olsson/Thordahl Christensen). Re. that production I was told that Helgi Tomasson wanted Cavallo for the premiere, but this not get his wish fullfilled. Why? I have always believed that it was consided a bad political move for the RDB at that time to give the premiere to a totally foreign cast of a very expensive production. It would be like admitting publically that the RDB school was not doing it job. So some you loose and some you win. I have no problem with accepting Helgi Tomassons choice because he was the author of this performance, but I sometimes as in the case of Manon find myself that a certain casts would not really be McMillans choice and in experience I can tell that there is often a great difference between the casting done by the choreographer and by apoointed dicertors and caretakers. Often a choreographer will make a bolder choice and often a choice based on dramatic abilities or personality. Cavallo is in my view a dancer who may have benefitted by the fact that we get very few original choreographers visiting RDB today, but a lot of appointed directors. When John Neumeier is working himself with the company, he casts Kenneth Greve/Martin James, Silha Schandorff/Rose Gad as well as very young dancers like Sarah van Patten and second tier dancers like Francisco Nappa and Marie Pierre Greve in leading roles. As I accept his freedom as choreographer I may also accept his choices,even though they may not be in tune with my own viewpoints.

I once read an article by Arlene Croce re. NYCB ballerinas where she concluded that some dancers got more parts than what their talents deserved because any ballet master will eventually start to prefer the dancers who are good workers, who are reliable and less prune to injuries over the greater but more fragile talent . This may have been the reason that Heidi Ryom ended up with such a large repetoire ompared to her conteperaryes Mette-Ida Kirk, Lis Jeppesen and Linda Hindberg whos talents were recognised decades before Ryom and who had all ben made principal dances 5 -8 years before her. The reliability of Cavallo and her eagerness to put in the hours may be a factor. With Cavallo you know what you get, but it is somestimes more exiting to watch a dancer who can give you what you did not expect.

#36 Alexandra

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 10:23 AM

Thanks for your comments. I've become reluctant to rely on stories regarding casting unless I've heard it from the instruktor and have a way of judging whether s/he's saying what they think, or what they know they have to say, or are giving a polite answer, or a political one. I've found there are usually four or five different versions of any story, often deeply believed by the person telling it, but sometimes someone's best guess rather than what really went on behind closed doors. (I write that having had to work on unraveling backstage stories for my research, and I'm sure the RDB isn't the only company with multiple versions!)

Personally, I agree with Effy's comment: "With Cavallo you know what you get, but it is sometimes more exiting to watch a dancer who can give you what you did not expect." But I think this thread has shown that she has her admirers and her detractors, and we're unlikely to come to a consensus. I would have been interested to see her do Piano Concerto. I didn't see these performances and so I'll defer to those who did :thumbsup:

#37 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 10:52 AM

I'm with Alexandra that we're unlikely to get to the bottom of this one; Cavallo seems to be one of those dancers one takes sides about - and it's less about her (she seems quite sweet!) than about the company itself; does she represent the direction one wants the company to take? Personally, I was not taken with her in Bournonville, but she's a "leggy" dancer and would be interested to see her in Balanchine - my guess is it would suit her. Then the question becomes, how do RDB goers want to see the company dance Balanchine? In an "authentic" style (whatever that is, which is very open to debate) or a "native" one?

#38 Effy

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 12:46 AM

How do we Danes prefer our Balanchine? Unfortunately we have only had the older Balanchine works. I do not think we have had anything newer than Stravinsky Violin Concerto, so we are feed on a diet of works mainly from the 40ties and 50ties. We do get NYCB here at regular intervals, so we can compare the styles. The RDB dances seems to bring a dramatic flavour to the ballets which i think is becoming to most works, even Agon. As one critic pointed out when Mette-Ida Kirks danced the pas de deux - It may be abstract, but it is not without meaning. And at one of the high arabesque done with the front towards the audience, you did not look at her extension which was a perfect 6 O'clock and as high as Silja Schandorff or any NYCB ballerina - You looked at her face. We have allways has very fine soloist for Balanchine, but getting a strong and unison corps have been a problem - due to to few actually dancing members of the corps and also due to the fact that RDB do not have a standard height for dancers like RB, but it looks judged from the very fine Serenade performance that we now seem to get there. A factor is also than in order to dance good Balanchine you should dance Balanchine often, and we have had a few year with none or very few productions

#39 rubria

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 03:22 AM

hi everyone,

i ve returned to copenhagen again, after a year in china. missed NYCB in september (at tivoli), but did catch opening night of the balanchine martins programme. i ve only now looked at some of the posts here and am surprised at how lively the exchange is. i can't really add anything of substance, i ve gone almost 2 years without watching ballet, so this opening night was a thrill (except for martins). is there also an opportunity to meet other ballet fans who live in copenhagen, watch performances together and discuss them over hylleblomst? i have a very busy schedule, so i would appreciate keeping up with ballet or dance through an informal group -

anyone aware of good modern dance classes by the way?

#40 aspirant

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 04:23 AM

:blushing: off topic, but rubria doesn't have PM options yet!

Danseshus has rotating teachers every week or so for the morning ballet and modern classes (with names like Tim Rushton, Sorella Englund and Wally Cardona)

KKA is better for your wallet, and has some interesting folks but the facilities aren't great.

Sceneindgang is just opening (on Sunday actually, with a free performance and gratis classes all week--check out their schedule online for ballet and modern) and is replacing the old Dansverkstedet on Meinungsgade.

#41 Alexandra

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 06:13 AM

Welcome back, Rubria!!! I'm glad you remembered us. And thanks for the very appropriate and helpful OT comments, aspirant :blushing:

I was trying to come up with a list of Balanchine ballets danced by the RDB since the 1930s, and I'm sure this is incomplete, but it's a start:

Apollo, Concerto Barocco, Symphony in C, Serenade, Four Temperaments, Agon, Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, Tzigane, Theme and Variations, Tchaikovsky pas de deux.

#42 Effy

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 02:59 PM

Adding to the list:
Allegro Brilliante, Symphony in C, Divertimento nr 15, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, The Sonambule, Rubies, Bouree Fantastique, (1963), Donizetti Variantion (1968) , Duo Consertante (at gallas, never in repetoire) and off cause The Legend of Joseph and some earlier ballet in 1932 (?) when Balanchine spend one year as ballet master in Copenhagen

#43 Mel Johnson

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 03:12 PM

Did Balanchine do a "Legend of Joseph" too? The one I'm familiar with is Massine's, and was the last time he appeared onstage in tights in the title role. Parisian critics had noted his muscularity and said the ballet should have been called "Les Jambes de Joseph"! :unsure:

#44 Helene

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 03:20 PM

What would you have wished for in a Balanchine/Martins triple-bill, if you could have chosen:

1) Among what's currently in the rep?
2) Among all ballets?

#45 Alexandra

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 03:57 PM

Mel, when Balanchine first came to Copenhagen, he was asked to stage certain ballets. According to Svend Kragh-Jacobsen, this was at the wish of the conductor, who also was directing the ballet company at the time. He wanted to conduct the scores. I'd writtten the 1930s above, but it must have been 1930, because Lander came in in '31 (and, of course, Balanchine had a job until Diaghilev's death in '29.

It was Massine's Joseph Legend (with Borge Ralov). Also Balanchine's Barabau. I'd have to look up the others. I think Spectre, which Balanchine danced, with Ulla Paulsen.

Thanks for your amendments, Effy -- I knew you'd know smile.gif And I hope you and Jorgen, aspirant, kaydemark et al. will answer Helene's question.




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