Serenade. Ballet of the Week 11/14/03WITH PHOTOS!!
Posted 18 November 2003 - 05:05 PM
Posted 18 November 2003 - 05:22 PM
An unforgettable single performance for me was in 1988, a tribute to Serenade's 50th Anniversary, I believe. On NYCB's stage, students from SAB danced it. Jenifer Ringer, the Waltz Girl, was propelled by such abandon, such sweep, such ecstasy! I don't think I've ever seen as moving a performance of that role before, and know that I haven't since. A keeper, for sure.
Posted 19 November 2003 - 11:40 AM
PRODUCTIONS: When this topic came up, I thought that I must have seen this ballet done many times by many different companies. But I really had just seen it done many, many times by the NYCB. I guess I've seen almost every cast since my parents took me to the ballet in the early 70s. I also saw the Kirov do it twice in 1999 and by SAB when it has been presented. In addition, I've seen videos by an early NYCB cast, PNB, and POB.
I guess I tend to like NYCB in this. I think there's an earthiness and musical sensitivity to their performances. The ballet is almost surefire, so I did enjoy the Kirov, which danced this lighter - more like the vision scene of a full-length ballet. I thought they would emphasize the drama, but they didn't do it. NYCB digs in a little bit more, with a greater sense of abandon.
Hair up or down? It doesn't make much of a difference if the production is the older version with the hair up. I do like it down, I think it seperates the place of the last movement from the others. They are in that other world. According to Croce (and it makes sense to me), hair down in Balanchine's ballets represents fate, the man (maybe Balanchine) being guided by fate [the choreographer guided by the hand of the muse, by the music?]. This connects the last section to ballets such as the Elegie section of the Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3, Meditation, the last section of Don Q., the Unanswered Question part of Ivesiana etc... The section where the "Dark Angel" guides the second man to the "Waltz Girl" now connects to the bit from Le Basier de la Fee Tallchief reconstructed, where the Fairy disguised as a gypsy with loose hair guides the Bridegroom off stage from behind.
DANCERS: I tend to like a lyric ballerina as the "Waltz Girl," a jumper or someone with a bravura technique as the "Russian Girl," and a glamour girl with presence (and a magnificent arabesque) as the "Dark Angel." Of course, over dancers' careers many have "graduated" from one role to another. In my early casts, Karin von Aroldingen did the 3rd role, but also the Russian section. By the early 80s, I saw her a lot as the WG. I saw Farrell at least once in the Waltz section, and I liked the early Kistler, Nichols, Mazzo, Karz, Nichols, Ashley and several others. The Russian dancer is tricky - I prefer one who really sticks the positions but also can be sensitive for the wonderous section where she (with four corps girls) goes down on the floor to that meditative music. I also like a good back, for when she gathers with the corps women and turns away from the audience. Nichols and Ashley were two I really liked before they moved on to the lead. Melinda Roy too. Then, I think it started with Watts, Peter Martins started casting a smaller dancer. While I liked Hlinka in the part, I thought the smaller dancer looks mismatched when the three women dance together in the last section. Maybe Martins was thinking of well being of the second man for when the Russian dancer flies in the air at him, but it looks so much better with a taller dancer. Borree, who is cast often in that part, just doesn't register well in the role. The casting of Somogyi makes a lot more sense.
I appreciated Calegari, Diana White, Alexopolous, and Kowroski were always great as the "Dark Angel." And Meunier at SAB and Part with the Kirov.
STORY OR NO STORY: The way I see this ballet depends on my mood, the orchestra, the dancers. I feel there's a hint or whiff of narative, but mostly the ballet speaks to me the way music speaks to me. It's like a language, when you're fluent, you don't translate it to English, but just speak it instinctively.
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