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Serenade. Ballet of the Week 11/14/03WITH PHOTOS!!


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 06:51 AM

New York City Ballet is about to launch its Balanchine Centennial Season, and I thought we might do our own Centennial observance by taking a ballet a week and discussing it.

Why not start with Serenade, Balanchine's first American ballet (1934). There are photos from the first rehearsals -- very eager, rather hefty young women. The ballet has changed over the years. I'm sure many here on the board know those stories and I'll leave you to tell them!

Lore, questions, favorite performances......your experiences with "Serenade," please.

#2 oberon

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 07:40 AM

SERENADE is my favorite ballet. I have seen it dozens of times danced by everyone from Karin von Aroldingen to Wendy Whelan (the latter only once, that I know of)...when the curtain goes up, my heart goes to my throat and stays there the whole time. Twice I have seen SERENADE immediately after major romantic break-ups and it was both depressing yet also reassuring.

Usually I am unable to speak after seeing it; once I came out onto the Promenade after a performance and burst into tears. And I'm not the crying type...at all.

I find Kyra Nichols ideal in the central role...so vulnerable & luminous. Kowroski and Kathleen Tracey have been gorgeous recently in the Angel role (who gave the role that name? surely not Balanchine?) but the beauteous Alexopoulos remains vividly in my memory. And at present I really am impressed with James Fayette in the second male role.

The unmatched beauty of the music, the arresting sight of the girls when the curtain rises...there can be nothing that compares.

Needless to say I will be there next Tuesday...with a box of tissues. I'm getting chills just thinking of it.

Edited by oberon, 14 November 2003 - 07:41 AM.


#3 rg

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 11:09 AM

a picture is worth 10,000 words?
how about 30,000 = 3 pix.
i'm HOPING to post 3 historic photos of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo version c. 1940 on the ballet history topic, where i have the option of posting pictures.

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Edited by Alexandra: Thank you, rg! I've moved them from the Ballet History forum onto this thread (and, with apologies, made them smaller).

#4 rg

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 11:14 AM

Ruthanna Boris, c. 1940, in one of the Jean Lušat designs from the ballet's early period.
i have corresponded w/ ms boris about this pose and she confirms that indeed it was an improvizational pose of her own devising, and not a moment from the ballet itself.

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#5 rg

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 11:18 AM

ruthanna boris and leon danileon, c. 1940, in SERENADE costumes (by Lušat).

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#6 rg

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 11:22 AM

unidentified couple, c.1940, cosutmed and posed(?) in a moment from SERENADE.

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#7 dirac

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 11:52 AM

These are fascinating. So difficult for me to imagine the ballet in these costumes, though.

#8 bingham

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 12:48 PM

When did they change to the present Karinska costumes in use now?
Joe

#9 djb

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 01:30 PM

Wow, pointe shoes had tiny pointes in those days! (referring to the first photo of Ruthanna Boris)

#10 rg

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 01:37 PM

according to CHOREOGRAPHY BY GEORGE BALANCHINE, p. 118, costumes by Candido Portinari were designed in 1941 for the american ballet caravan staging, the costumes for the 1948 new york city ballet production were uncredited. the catalogue gives 1952 as the year of karinska's costumes.

#11 Alexandra

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 02:33 PM

I'm surrprised no one has ever done Serenade in the original costumes. It would be fascinating to see -- There's a sentimentality and romanticism with the current costumes (I don't mean either word in a negative way) and I think the ballet would have another look entirely -- I'd also wonder what the lighting was like? I've seen several productions of Serenade in the past few years that have what I've called -- and I do mean this in a negative way! -- "pool side" lighting. It's as though someone has taken Balanchine's description of the way he lined up 17 women "like orange trees in California" and used that as a lighting cue. Yet, perhaps originally it was danced in bright light. (But bright light and long blue ballgowns don't go!)

#12 Dale

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 02:42 PM

NYCB has had SAB perform Serenade a few times in white shifts, such as the ones seen on the dancers in the photo taken at the original performance in White Plains.

#13 socalgal

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 03:57 PM

Someone does have the original Karinska costumes! Or atleast one of the original productions of the 60's. Yvonne Mounsey received them from NYCB when visiting and saw that they were (I believe) putting them in permenant retirement. She asked if she could have them, and they said yes. That is atleast what I was told. My BD danced in Serenade at her Westside Ballet spring concert in 1999. Patricia Neary set ithe ballet on these students. I remember my bd getting her costume with the name Rosemary Dunlevy in side of it :wub: Most all of them had names inside of them from the original nycb wearer. IT made this even the more special for these aspiring students.. They were very old and I remember taking a few home to do repair work with great caution and respect. The tulle on some of the skirts were torn and there were small holes in the bodice material as well. Although these dresses looked ragged up close, you could not tell their age on stage with the beautiful lighting. The performances were exceptional I must say and one my bd will remember for a life time. Serenade has always been one of my very favorite Balanchine ballets.

(What stories these dresses could tell :wub: )

#14 atm711

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 04:10 PM

Thanks rg, for that photo of Boris---it has always been one of my favorites. I always loved her performance in that role--in fact, the only time I ever sent flowers to a dancer was to Boris when she performed this role. I can still remember fussing over the color of the ribbons, to make sure they blended with her costume. Indeed, the ballet looked very different then. It took me a while to get used to the long romantic costumes and flowing hair of later productions. I am not so sure that I prefer the current version. I like what Denby said about the 40's version: "the sequences suggest a romantic personal grief but the dancers themselves remain clear and open as in the morning classroom". My first reaction to the unidentified couple is Danilova and Franklin--I did not see her, but I know she performed it very earlyin the 40's.

#15 Alexandra

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 02:18 PM

Bump! This is a ballet nearly everyone here has seen -- what do you think of it? Any particularly memorable performances or casts?


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