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Great Performances: Degas and the Dance on MPTDid anyone else see it?


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#1 Hans

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 08:51 PM

This was a really interesting program focusing on Degas' paintings of dancers at the Paris Opera intercut with shots of the POB corps taking class and a short clip of POB students in a barre stretch. Gorgeous, gorgeous dancers, and the history behind the paintings was fascinating. I already knew much of the material regarding the POB, but it was interesting to hear more about Degas and why he painted dancers and how modern and shocking his paintings were considered at the time.

#2 sylphide

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 09:03 PM

I had ballet class at 7pm and the show was on at 8PM. I had to program my VCR for the first time and I guess it worked! Watched it and loved it! The POB clips were rare but divine and the art work was exquisite.
I wish everyone( who loves art and dance) could have seen it! the brief interview with Brigitte Lefevre was interesting in the way she described the painter's eye.
Beautiful documentary :yes:

#3 Tiffany

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 09:05 PM

I saw this tonight as well! I learned a lot about Degas, and the POB dancers were lovely. What a nice surprise as I was flipping through channels tonight! I had no idea that his paintings were considered shocking, though I guess common sense would tell you that would be the case at that time.

#4 carbro

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 09:58 PM

I also found it an interesting and very informative program. The condensation of the life of dancers then-and-now was well presented. It was also fascinating to observe in Degas' paintings and sculptures the curved arabesque line that Alexandra cited elsewhere as intrinsic to authentic Bournonville style (same era). Although I'd noticed this before, I never understood that it was the style of ballet then, as opposed to Degas' personal representation of that style.

The one semi-jarring note (although it did bring a smile)was seeing today's POB dancers dancers dressed for Diamonds while the Tchaikovsky symphony was playing. It was anachronistic :) but fun :lol: .

Now I want to go to Paris (where I haven't been since '73) and visit Le Palais Garnier. Trip, anyone? :wink:

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 10:07 PM

I had it on while I was working, and watched as much as I could. I liked what I saw -- it took dance seriously. It was frustrating to hear the music for "Emeralds" and "Symphony in C" and not see any dancing, but they did use "Emeralds" for Degas' green period paintings, so they were paying attention.

#6 carbro

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 10:15 PM

And having the Diamonds allusion as a segue from the Emeralds/Green Period was a subtle, intelligent juxtaposition.

#7 Dale

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 10:36 PM

I did find oddly amusing and frustrating that they showed the POB dancers in not only Emeralds and Diamonds costumes but Rubies as well, but didn't show any of the dancing. They did show Platel as Gamzatti in La Bayadere (I'll asume it is from the pre-existing commercial recording) and a bit from La Sylphide. Is that one from the Lacotte version that's been released?

However, it was a pretty good show, nicely weaving in biography with the present day. And I spied Gillot, who I like.

#8 nlkflint

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 04:23 AM

I liked the juxtaposition of Degas' green peroid and the Emerards scene, and the paintings with red and the Rubies waiting in the wings. I think they showed little actual dancing as they stressed that Degas' paintings of dancers were almost entirely dancers in the wings or dancers in the dance studio. He did not really paint dancers on stage performing. And, unfortunately they did not show any performance dance from POB other than the clip from the video La Sylphide and another clip from La Bayadere .

I found it interesting how much was actually done in the artist's studio. The the large frieze of dancers putting on/taking off shoes was actually one dancer who posed and Degas sketched her from four different angles! I enjoyed the way they recreated the scenes with "Degas" and his dancer posing, the four individual poses sketched, and then the final frieze.

I was also curious about his interest in photography. Again, the recreated scene with Degas posing and photographing his dancer, the actual old negatives of the same scene, and then the three actual old negatives shown with the painting he produced as a result with the same three poses.

I did not previously know that the colors became more vivid with his increasing age and increasing loss of sight.

#9 vrsfanatic

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 04:27 AM

Saw the show Hans and enjoyed it. I found a lot of the history connected to the paintings very enlightening. I always imagined the men lurking or watching in the background to be ballet masters or choreographers or directors, never patrons. There was much to be learned about his paintings and the effects upon the art world.

Also I was a little shocked at the step being performed in Bayadere by I am assuming Platel, in the center of what I will call the coda. Some form of fouette I assume. Does anyone know what that was (or was supposed to be)? :)

#10 Funny Face

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 06:23 AM

I, too, enjoyed the program. I agree about the effectiveness of recreating the dancers posing for the artist. The story about the stage moms pushing their daughters into an exchange of favors was creepy, eh? And, I could envision the dancers interacting with the patrons in that special room. And trying to obtain a sugar daddy of one's own. Rather sad. And what about terming the dancers "litle rats" due to their scampering about?

#11 sylphide

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 08:14 AM

Funny Face,

And what about terming the dancers "litle rats" due to their scampering about?


I have always been intrigued by this calling of the young students that were living and learning at the Palais Garnier. I think it is quite charming actually, since my mother told me it was because back when the "ecole de danse" was still at Garnier, one could here the tiny steps of children, at night, wandering about the Palais, throughout the numerous stairs and corridors in search of a glimpse of the evening's show or to clandestinely discover the world into which they eventually will evolve in.
For more "petit rat" check out this website (in French):Petit rat

#12 Alexandra

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 08:26 AM

The children at the Royal Danish Ballet school are called "little mice" and have been for at least a century. It's the same scampering about idea -- and until about the 1970s, the children had the run of the theater and would go visit "friends" in the paint and carpentry shop, and play with the old costumes in wardrobe -- then scurry away if they were caught someplace they shouldn't be. I also think the mice/rat comparison reflects the comparison in size. Provincials are mice; you have to live in a major capital to be a rat.

In the 19th century, theaters were filled with rats -- I've read stories about patrons carrying umbrellas to the theaters so they could beat the little critters away if they came into the parquet, lured by the sweet sounds of the orchestra. So one can imagine people hearing the patter of little feet and not being sure whether they were hearing rats or children.

#13 carbro

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 10:26 AM

In the 19th century, theaters were filled with rats . . .

The tradition has carried on to the current era. :) There was the story of a NYCB dancer happening upon the body of a dead mouse in State Theater and concluded, "Must be left over from Nutcracker!"

#14 Ari

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 10:44 AM

Indeed yes. Last year I saw a mouse corpse in the Kennedy Center's Opera House. This was before the renovation, though, so I don't know what the explanation was!

#15 cricket

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 11:14 AM

Also I was a little shocked at the step being performed in Bayadere by I am assuming Platel, in the center of what I will call the coda. Some form of fouette I assume. Does anyone know what that was (or was supposed to be)?  :)

Although I'm far from an expert, this step is in the choreography of "Sugar Plum" in my daughter's civic company's Nut. I overheard the A.D. refer to it as an "Italian fouette". Maybe there is a more technical term for it.... :shrug:

My daughter & I luckily found this program & taped it - it was quite fascinating and the POB dancers were absolutely lovely.


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