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Symphony in C... please excuse the question :-/


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#46 vrsfanatic

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Posted 13 March 2009 - 12:58 PM

(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!

#47 Jack Reed

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 05:25 AM

We're already starting to talk about it in the MCB forum:

http://ballettalk.in...mp;#entry244119

Note that you will need to be in the theatre at 1:00 PM to hear Villella's introductory remarks in their entirety, vrsfanatic!

#48 KarenAG

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 09:23 AM

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!                   



#49 California

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 09:55 AM

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.



#50 DanielBenton

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 09:58 AM

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.



#51 KarenAG

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 10:20 AM

Thank you, California, don't know why I forgot to consult Nancy Goldberg's essay, which I just read. It is puzzling about Taras' remark about deletions and simplifications., which he continues saying 'is surprising, considering how much better technically dancers have become these days'. 

 

DanielBenton, thank you.  Taras mentions in his article that the rights first went to Betty Cage in 1962 who then gave Taras the rights to it in 1992. But aren't all Balanchine Ballets governed by the Trust? I know Suzanne Farrell owns a couple of Balanchine's ballets, can the Trust assert authority over them? 



#52 DanielBenton

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 10:38 AM

AlbanyGirl, I don't know the rules of the Trust (but I expect some of the more experienced Ballet Alert contributors know).   Probably the individual who receives the rights to the ballet agrees to let the Trust do the licensing for performance, but they can probably put restrictions on it too (e.g., I can't imagine someone at NYCB doing Tzigane, unless she does the coaching for it).  



#53 volcanohunter

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 02:09 PM

The rights to the ballet now belong to the School of American Ballet, so I was a little suprised when the Paris Opera Ballet's broadcast of Palais was accompanied by the usual blurb about the Trust signing off on style and technique. If anyone has seen Symphony in C performed recently, do you remember that note being included in the program?



#54 DanielBenton

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 02:31 PM

I have only seen it at NYCB where they would probably not need to include that note. 

AlbanyGirl, thanks for posting the videos, for their brief lifespan here.  Comparing the two versions is already very interesting.  For starters, the POB 4th movement is 50% longer than the NYCB 1973 Berlin filming. 



#55 emilienne

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 05:32 PM

Oh boy, Symphony in C. What a can of worms. I've quoted some previous posts below. Please keep in mind that almost all of my research is archival and piecemeal. Would you believe that I've never even seen the ballet live?

 

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. '

 

POB seems to have faithfully (pedantically?) preserved the choreography. Youtube hosted a 1980s film featuring the company with choreography identical to the recent theater transmission. Going further back in time, Balanchine in Paris presents Ghislaine Thesmar coaching the second movement; this coaching segment features a B&W film of Thesmar and her cavalier (1960s? 70s?) with identical pas de deux choreography from the second movement. Further back, Soviet news features (probably before or near the same time as the first NYCB visit in 1962) showed that sections of the second and fourth movements are identical.  The Dutch National Ballet staged Palais in the same year, though it was billed as Symphony in C. Confusingly enough, their Symphony (which was filmed for B&W transmission) featured choreography identical to the POB Palais. Nothing in it suggests Symphony to me at all.

 

The Balanchine Catalogue does report a 1963 CBS program (Lincoln Center Day) that featured the second and fourth movements of Symphony/Palais. However, as I have not seen this (it's at NYPL, go see it!), I can only speculate that the European and American chains of transmission may have been broken at that point, as excerpts from various biographies seems to suggest that Kent was already performing different choreography than her European counterpart.

 

My film chain ends there, but I'll speculate that the POB has done a marvelous job in retaining the original choreography. Otherwise, any distortion that occurred in the choreography occurred between 1948 and when people began to film this ballet in the 1960s.

 

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.

 

and also

 

Taras mentions in his article that the rights first went to Betty Cage in 1962 who then gave Taras the rights to it in 1992. But aren't all Balanchine Ballets governed by the Trust? I know Suzanne Farrell owns a couple of Balanchine's ballets, can the Trust assert authority over them? 

 

also:

 

The rights to the ballet now belong to the School of American Ballet, so I was a little suprised when the Paris Opera Ballet's broadcast of Palais was accompanied by the usual blurb about the Trust signing off on style and technique. If anyone has seen Symphony in C performed recently, do you remember that note being included in the program?

 

Betty Cage gave Symphony to Taras, who insisted on companies performing only one version of it. If I recall correctly, the POB actually stopped performing Palais for a number of years (90s?) due to a copyright conflict. In another instance Francia Russell and Kent Stowell had to apply for special permission so that they could stage Russell's version for their retirement from PNB in 2005. I wonder how Mr Taras took Mariinsky's decision to stage what is patently Symphony with jewel-toned costumes in the 1990s.

 

It's unclear what was given to Taras. I did some research for the board a few years back on the disposition of Balanchine's ballets after his death (My 2009 BA! series of three posts here), and the will named only Symphony. You'll have to see my post for more details about ownership, but von Aroldingen and Barbara Horgan shared all rights to all ballets not named in the will (the will named ~85). 

 

Here's where the weirdness comes in: is Palais a different ballet? Balanchine did name both versions of Valse Fantaisie and Theme and Variations in his will, but Palais was not, so it is possible that von Aroldingen and Horgan own it instead. However, this 2006 NYT article seems to think that Symphony and Palais are one entity (calling it just "Bizet") and belonged to Taras. In any case, he left Symphony to SAB (which originally had received nothing from Balanchine's will), and the SAB seems to have deposited said ballet(s) with the Balanchine Trust (which requires the staging blurb). 

 

Anyway, quoting from my original posts, "Taper notes that '[o]nce [the ballets were deposited in the Trust], the action was irrevocable'".



#56 volcanohunter

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 06:14 PM

It appears the two versions are regarded as a single work. The credits of Palais de Cristal looked like this:

 

Le Palais de Cristal
1947

Chorégraphie
George Balanchine
© School of American ballet [sic]

 

Followed by the BT blurb:

 

Le représentations de "Palais de Cristal" sont données avec l'accord du George Balanchine Trust, conformément aux normes d'exécution relevant du style Balanchine, ainsi que de la technique Balanchine, qui sont établies et fournies par le Balanchine Trust.



#57 sandik

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 11:09 PM

And here's a little video of Teresa Reichlen talking about the work (promo for current season)



#58 Dale

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Posted 05 January 2015 - 04:01 AM

Remember, posting links to full videos here will most certainly lead to the Trust pulling videos and YouTube accounts shutdown.

#59 California

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Posted 05 January 2015 - 05:52 AM

Remember, posting links to full videos here will most certainly lead to the Trust pulling videos and YouTube accounts shutdown.

Yes, and to the Trust I repeat my plea: please find a way to release these treasures on DVD (or streaming video) so we can study them. How about a DVD with a recent NYCB performance of Symphony in C and a recent POB performance of Palais. We understand that obtaining releases on old videos is prohibitively expensive, but isn't there a way to do this with current performers and musicians? This ballet requires a large, well-trained company, so there aren't many opportunities to see it in the US, let alone elsewhere.



#60 volcanohunter

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Posted 05 January 2015 - 10:36 AM

I wonder how Mr Taras took Mariinsky's decision to stage what is patently Symphony with jewel-toned costumes in the 1990s.

 

He was personally involved in that staging. Strangely enough, though he insisted that the POB could not dance Palais, but only Symphony in C in black and white costumes, he apparently had no objections to the Mariinsky's costumes. I remember seeing a Russian TV feature from the premiere, at which he was present and spoke glowingly of the company. He also approved Tatiana Terekhova as repetiteur of the piece, even though she'd never danced it, and a few years later she staged the ballet for the Bolshoi, though they performed it in (rather tinselly) black and white costumes.




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