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Lovebird

The Seven Deadly Sins

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Did anyone see this ballet? From Allegra Kent's autobiography it looks like a really strange, wacky ballet. The costumes are strange, everyone has a mask, and the women have high heeled boots and padded bikinis. Allegra kent is in underwear. What are the impressions of this ballet? Was there a scandal when it premiered? Why has it never been revived? I am sure there are ballerinas at NYCB who would be good in it. How was Allegra Kent in it?

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Lovebird, Seven Deadly Sins is an unusual mixture. it's more a theater piece than a ballet, although Allegra Kent apparently had a lot of dancing in it. it was originally done in 1933, music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Bertolt Brecht, and it evokes that era (Weimar, Nazi Germany, etc) in many different guises-- cabaret, ballet, opera, jazz, all kinds of things. It requires a singer/protagonist of similarly remarkable talents as its dancer/protagonist (they are called Anna I and Anna II); the German star Lotte Lenya, who was both cabaret performer and actress, played the singing role. you'll remember from Kent's autobiography that Balanchine thought more than once of reviving it but never actually did. The ballet is intended to be somewhat scandalous and shocking (if you've seen other things that evoke the period, such as Cabaret or the movie The Damned, you notice some similarities), and apparently Kent and Lenya were smashing in it --the still photographs and snatches of film of Kent in the role are amazing. There was supposedly a good deal more scandal in 1933, at the premiere, than in 1958, at the revival.

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I did see some similarities to Cabaret in it, the costumes especially. It would probably be difficult to find someone with the same unique qualities as Kent to perform it, though.

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I saw in in the '60s, when the San Francisco Ballet performed it, with Cynthia Gregory as the dancing Anna and Nina Foch as the singing Anna. I liked it, but I was a teenager, and a lot of years have gone by, so who knows what I'd think of it now? Tonight I saw a photo of Cynthia Gregory in the cabaret scene. Pretty high babe factor. Her hair is unmistakably from the '60s, which is kind of funny, although I wasn't, of course, aware of it when I saw the ballet performed.

I expect seeing Allegra Kent and Cynthia Gregory in this role would be two very different experiences.

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Balanchine not only thought about reviving it, he had definite plans to do so in the seventies, with Karin von Aroldingen and Bette Midler. A musicians' strike truncated the season and so it never happened. Too bad.

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