Guest IrishKitri

Symphony in C

74 posts in this topic

[*]2nd Movement: Wu, Guerra (plus two demi couples, six women, not the eight noted by bart, above)

You're right! carbro. I just rechecked, and it's 6 women, not 8. :D

Incidentally, is there universal agreement with Croce's 1993 statement that Symphony in C is "Balanchine's greatest show-piece"? Or should it be amended to something like "greatest show-piece of classical style"?

And how about her claim that the adagio movement is "probably the most privileged [woman's] role in the Balanchine repertory"? (1975)

And here's one more Croce observation, reminiscing in 1983 about Edward Villella:

In Symphony in C, Villella entered flying. For years afterward, at precisely the same moment in the third movement, audiences would respond clamourously not only to the height of the leap and its perfection of form but to the illusion of sustained flight. Villella just seemed to keep on climbing and riding air the whole time he was on stage.

It's interesting to read in carbro's post that Villella chose Alex Wong to dance that particular role when his company made its long-anticipated Manhattan debut. I wonder whether Wong, a young man of huge potential, fully realized the legendary footsteps in which he was being asked to dance -- and to fly.

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Symphony in C corps can be done with either 6 or 8 women in each movement, although I do believe it was first choreographed with 8 ladies in each movement in the corps depending upon the size of the stage.

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cubanmiamiboy, I think it will be one Balanchine ballet you will love. Notice in particularly the second movement adagio, which is maybe the most celebrated part of Symphony in C. And watch whether the ballerina attempts to touch her knee in her penchee, which was the "Farrell move." And be exhilarated by the final.

Prepare to NOT be entranced by the costumes, especially those for the guys.

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And watch whether the ballerina attempts to touch her knee in her penchee, which was the "Farrell move." And be exhilarated by the final.
And before Farrell, Allegra Kent. Many ballerinas try it, but IMO few can pull it off without making it look like a stunt.

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The day after tomorrow I will be watching my first ever Symphony in C. I will watch clips of whatever is available online in advance, but I still would like to get some info and insights from you guys....WHATEVER you can add will be very helpful.-(as it has been in the past with other B. newbies for me)

Thanks!

Cristian, you really don't need to do any preparation to enjoy Symphony in C, it's one of the most joyous ballets I've ever seen. Although an unfortunate side effect has crept into my psyche over the last few years - whenever I see it now, as soon as the last movement starts reaching it's climax I start wishing it would start over again from the beginning so I can never truly relax & just focus on the ending!

Sym C was one of the first Balanchine ballets that I loved & I managed to love it with absolutely no insight into it's origins, allusions etc, however several years ago I read some commentary on it that really illuminated it's humor for me. I'm sure I found the info on or through ballettalk, although I don't have time to search the archives for it now. I can't remember if it was Croce or Denby or someone else but the writer pointed out the choreography's fit with the score's youthful exuberance and also pointed out that Balanchine was choreographing for circus elephants at around the same time that he made Sym C, and referred to the ballerinas in the 4th movement (I think it was the 4th) as an oncoming herd of ballerinas. I've never gotten that picture out of my head and it always makes me smile.

While trying to track down that article I found this one by Jay Rogoff – it's long and discusses several Balanchine ballets but I think it's excellent and it discusses Sym C first. You will have to register to read the full article, but it's free:

http://www.articlearchives.com/humanities-.../1262387-1.html

BTW, I saw MCB's Sym C during the City Center engagement and the only complaint I have is with the 2nd movement casting. Wu's dancing is pretty, but too posey for me. She does the knee/head touch but it definitely looks like a stunt rather than an inevitable continuation of the movement. Enjoy the performance!

Susan

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Cristian, you really don't need to do any preparation to enjoy Symphony in C, it's one of the most joyous ballets I've ever seen. Although an unfortunate side effect has crept into my psyche over the last few years - whenever I see it now, as soon as the last movement starts reaching it's climax I start wishing it would start over again from the beginning so I can never truly relax & just focus on the ending!

Oh, absolutely. "Symphony in C", despite its length, is at the top of my short list of "do-over" ballets, the ones I want to see again as soon as they are over.

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Scratch the white paint and underneath...

Tim Scholl and, as I remember, Danilova point out that the original Symphony in C, Palais de Crystal, was in color--each act in red, blue, green, and white. The original scenario featured "a Ruby Priestress, a Sapphire Spirit, an Emerald Spirit and a Crystal Spirit in a Palace of Diamonds" (Richard Buckle). When it was presented in New York the next year, the costumes were black and white, in part perhaps because the troop was small and the dancers had to appear in more than one part.

Vadim Gaevksy in his book "Divertissement," Scholl says, likens the structure of Symphony in C to that of a pas classique: entree, adagio, variation, coda. Also for Scholl it recalls the formula of the Petipa ballet a grand spectacle: exposition, white act and divertissement (though shorter and speedier). The adagio, he says, is the work's ballet blanc, but here

the ballerina is not dead, but dying; her repeated falls into the arms of her cavalier becomes the movement's leifmotief. As it ends, she falls in a long spiral, until, like Aurora, she lies in her parnter's arms in a perfect fifth position, arms en couronne.

With Scholl everything begins with Sleeping Beauty and ends with Jewels, and I find myself ok with that alpha and omega.

* * *

Footnote: For me Symphony in C was probably the first Balanchine ballet that really knocked me out. The amount of invention was amazing, lines were combing through each other and changing each other's natures, and then all the characters, which had lived unknown to each other in separate stories, suddenly filling the stage and going on about at life at the same time, side by side...Pure madness.

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. . . [T]hen all the characters, which had lived unknown to each other in separate stories, suddenly filling the stage and going on about at life at the same time side by side...Pure madness.
:unsure: It is madness! I'd never thought of it that way, Quiggin. But within that madness is order. What a delicious paradox!

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Quiggan, you're right. They are "characters" in a sense. The color variations in Palais de Cristal must have made this point more clearly. I'll be seeing this in March and will definitely look for what you suggest.

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During my time at SFB, I first danced first and third movement soloists, and then first and fourth movement principal. It's a challenging ballet, but wonderful to dance. When we first danced it in the mid-seventies, we wore black leotards and black short skirts. Eventually, the tutus returned in the early 80s (Crystal Palace). I actually think the ballet works better visually without the tutus. The beauty of the line shows to more advantage in simple attire.

P.S. I have a story for you that I heard when dancing at SFB. Beatrice Tompkins premiered the principal woman in the third movement in New York in 1948. It was to have been Gisela Caccialanza who had amazing ballon. Before the premiere, she injured her achilles heel during rehearsal and was unable to dance. I notice in looking at the history of the NYCB premiere that her husband, Lew Christensen, was the principal male in the fourth movement.

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Scratch the white paint and underneath...

Tim Scholl and, as I remember, Danilova point out that the original Symphony in C, Palais de Crystal, was in color--each act in red, blue, green, and white. The original scenario featured "a Ruby Priestress, a Sapphire Spirit, an Emerald Spirit and a Crystal Spirit in a Palace of Diamonds" (Richard Buckle). When it was presented in New York the next year, the costumes were black and white, in part perhaps because the troop was small and the dancers had to appear in more than one part.

The first time I saw the ballet it was called 'Palais de Crystal' and was performed by the POB in NYC one year before it was done by NYCB. It had a very elegant look---the different colored tutus were muted and the whole ballet had a soft look. It looked very different the following year as performed by NYCB. The women wore white sleeveless leotards with a soft skirt--the men in black tights and white tops. One part that has stuck in my head from that first performance was when all four movements are on the stage at the same time (NYCity Center); the stage looked terribly crowded, the corps lost their 'lines' and they barely managed to get it together. --but, at the time the corps talent was pretty raw---they went from the classroom to the stage rather quickly.---they were a far cry from POB---and a far cry from what they are today. Both Companys performed it at the same theater.

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cubanmiamiboy, I think it will be one Balanchine ballet you will love. Notice in particularly the second movement adagio, which is maybe the most celebrated part of Symphony in C. And watch whether the ballerina attempts to touch her knee in her penchee, which was the "Farrell move." And be exhilarated by the final.

Prepare to NOT be entranced by the costumes, especially those for the guys.

What don't you like about the costumes? And wouldn't they be slightly different according to the companies that perform the ballet?

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Conviction? Perhaps.

Unless the video and music are misaligned due to the upload to youtube the musicality is fairly messy in most of this performance.

The battu in the third movement is not the Bolshoi's strongest moment on film either. :wink:

But it is great to see all of this footage.

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I was startled the other day to hear an announcer on a classical-music station (WNYC-FM), refer to Symphony in C as "Bizet's first symphony." Did she know something we don't?

I don't think so. I thought it was well known to be Bizet's Symphony No. 1. Wasn't it, after all, a student exercise?

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Scratch the white paint and underneath...

Tim Scholl and, as I remember, Danilova point out that the original Symphony in C, Palais de Crystal, was in color--each act in red, blue, green, and white. The original scenario featured "a Ruby Priestress, a Sapphire Spirit, an Emerald Spirit and a Crystal Spirit in a Palace of Diamonds" (Richard Buckle). When it was presented in New York the next year, the costumes were black and white, in part perhaps because the troop was small and the dancers had to appear in more than one part.

The POB still performed "Palais de Cristal" with its colored costumes in the 1990s. I saw it once (unfortunately in Bastille, I guess it would have looked better in Garnier), what a wonderful memory...

But when they last performed it a few years ago, for some unknown reasons it had become "Symphony in C" and had black and white costumes. It still was a mesmerizing work, but I regretted that the POB had abandoned the colored costumes- after all, "Palais de Cristal" is part of the POB heritage, as it had been premiered there in 1947... I don't know if we can have any hope to see the colored costumes again.

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I was startled the other day to hear an announcer on a classical-music station (WNYC-FM), refer to Symphony in C as "Bizet's first symphony." Did she know something we don't?

I don't think so. I thought it was well known to be Bizet's Symphony No. 1. Wasn't it, after all, a student exercise?

Yes, for the Paris Conservatory. That's why it took so long to find.

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Buckle seems to have had his own sense of the color-coding intended by Fini's design scheme, but it seems her ideas went, in order of the ballet's four movements, according to the following precious materials:

1. The Rubies = allegro vivo

2. The Black Diamonds = adagio

3. The Emeralds = allegro vivace

4. The Pearls [note: NOT diamonds] = allegro vivace

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this scan shows a page from Paris Opera Ballet gala program on which LE PALAIS DE CRISTAL was shown; presumably these sketches of Fini's show some ideas for two danseuses from the "Rubies" and "Emeralds" segments, respectively. i can't say that these sketches indicate costuming for the ballerina leads or for the movements' secondary dancers.

post-848-1233621246_thumb.jpg

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(from Fort Lauderdale, Florida) A note about cast numbers, which has been spoken of above: In New York, MCB performed Symphony in C with 40 dancers, by my count of the names in the program (Who's going to sit there and count the bodies on stage with that celestial machine in action?); 14 dancers appeared in more than one movement.

As I understand it, this is the reason for the white costumes in America: POB had plenty of dancers for separate casts for the first three movements and the first part of the fourth, but Balanchine did not, in those early days, so if a dancer was going to perform in more than one movement, her costume had to blend in, and so they all wore white.

Nancy Reynolds, in Repertory in Review: Forty Years of the New York City Ballet, p. 85, writes "... in the Paris original, each movement was a different color; in the finale, with fifty-two dancers, the stage was divided into color areas... Although fifty dancers, many of them students, were rounded up for the Ballet Society presentation, during the early years of the New York City Ballet it was often performed with forty or fewer."

And in my days at NYCB (in the audience, not on stage!) Balanchine added a few more dancers very late in the last movement. They stood half in the wings, and we saw mostly their arms and legs reflecting some of the movement of the others onstage.

(Thanks to rg for posting the costume pictures!)

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(from Fort Lauderdale, Florida) A note about cast numbers, which has been spoken of above: In New York, MCB performed Symphony in C with 40 dancers, by my count of the names in the program (Who's going to sit there and count the bodies on stage with that celestial machine in action?); 14 dancers appeared in more than one movement.

Actually I did count the numbers and names that were repeated for personal reasons (sounds dramatic, but not really) when MCB performed Symphony in C at the Arsht Center last month. :(:wink: I will be very pleased to see the matinee on Sunday at the Broward Center. This is a great program!

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Greetings, Members,

As I have expressed on BA in the past, Symphony in C is probably my favorite Balanchine ballet, certainly in the top 4 or 5. And, in anticipation of seeing this beloved ballet again on Jan 25, I would like to introduce a topic on the differences between Symphony in C and Le Palais de Cristal.

I've seen an old performance of Symphony in C (the one with Allegra Kent in 2nd movement) and a recent performance of Le Palais de Cristal, performed by POB and staged by Colleen Neary and Laurent Hilaire.

So I spent the morning researching Symphony in C/LePalais de Cristal to try and understand the differences in the two works, which I noted watching both performances, although I admit I don't have the time right now to watch them over and over to note exactly where and how. (Let me say that I enjoyed both performances immensely, although the NYCB is very dear to me and my favorite of the two). The 1st and 2nd movements seem different, while the 3rd seem to be the most similar. I will take some time to watch more closely and post my, hopefully, deeper observations, but right now I just want to share the performances and my interest. I read the essays in Repertory in Review, Balanchine and Mason's Stories of the Great Ballets and Anatoly Chujoy's New York City Ballet, to find not much about the evolution of this ballet, except in the costumes and how many dancers were available once Mr. B.re-staged it in NYC, etc., which has been discussed a bit on this thread, too. Then I remembered an essay entitled 'Balanchine's Bizet' by John Taras in Ballet Review, Spring 1998. In it Mr. Taras says this:

'What remains of the original choreography in Paris is anybody's guess. In an unauthorized version staged by Jean Sarelli of the Paris Opera for the Tokyo Ballet, there were several marvelous patterns apparently not remembered by Balanchine. They were omitted from his staging of the ballet in America. It is worth noting, however, that when Balanchine personally staged his ballets for other companies, the resulting version always differed somewhat from the original. The reason was not entirely faulty memory; he revised choreography inspired by the individual dancers available to him at the time.' And after mentioning that the ballet was 'part of the inaugural performance of the newly created New York City Ballet' and its later move to the State Theater: 'Balanchine eventually altered much of the choreography, especially repetitions in the original. There have been deletions and simplifications since his death....'

It is my understanding that Balanchine did revise his choreography when it suited him (Apollo is the best example that I can think of), so I am interested in what members have to say about Mr. Taras' observations, the two works themselves and Balanchine's revisions - do they contribute to a tighter, more coherent work? Is it more brilliant, more beautiful? What deletions mentioned by Taras were made and did that alter the work in a bad way? Also, with Colleen Neary, who obviously danced Symphony in C, and Laurent Hilaire, an etoile from POB who may have danced Le Palais de Cristal or even both, staging the French work, can one infer that we are seeing something of the original choreography in Palais? Also, will note here that the two works are not described as two distinct but one; in other words, writers usually refer to the ballet as Symphony in C and reference it was earlier staged as Palais with colored costumes. This seems fair to me, except that it is performed mostly as Symphony in C but also as Le Palais de Cristal.

I look so forward to this discussion!

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Thanks so much for these clips. Symphony in C is bread and water for Balanchine lovers.

You don't mention Nancy Goldner's More Balanchine Variations. She speculates briefly on differences between the two (pp. 18-19), e.g., adding more pirouettes for Tallchief. It's not clear if long balances were shortened so Le Clercq could handle them, after Toumanova had trouble in Paris, which Goldner also discusses.

I'm puzzled by Taras' comment that more changes were made after Balanchine's death. It was fine for him to make changes himself, but after that? I didn't think that was tolerated by the Trust.

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I remember reading somewhere that Taras was given the rights to Symphony in C by GB, and that during Taras' lifetime he determined what changes could and could not be made to it. Someone with a better memory than mine may know more about this.

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