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Agon


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#1 Brendan McCarthy

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Posted 20 February 2004 - 06:30 AM

I don't know if this is the appropriate place for this question, but is there a complete performance of Agon available anywhere on video/DVD?

I know that the BBC had hoped to include a Royal Ballet performance of the work in its Stravinsky video (which includes Firebird and Les Noces), but that permission was refused by the Balanchine Trust (for 'artistic reasons')

#2 carbro

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Posted 20 February 2004 - 07:23 AM

. .  . permission was refused by the Balanchine Trust (for 'artistic reasons')

:speechless: :thumbsup: :angry:

#3 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 20 February 2004 - 07:41 AM

If I recall correctly, the Royal Ballet was having problems with the Trust in the mid-90's. I think it was issues of casting and it could have been more. If the ballet was from that time, there's probably more to the story on both sides.

I don't think Agon exists in a commercially released version, but it has been recorded. The NYCB recordings available at the NYPL are from 1960 (CBC, L'heure du concert. Adams, Mitchell, Hayden, Bolender)
1973(?) (Unreleased Berlin Filming. Kent, Mitchell, von Aroldingen, Blum)
1982 (Dance in America. Watts, Tomlinson, ? can't recall, Duell)
1993 (Balanchine Festival Recordings, a few casts).

Depending on what you need to see, you may need to see more than one version to get a full answer.

#4 Giannina

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Posted 20 February 2004 - 07:45 AM

There are "selections from Agon" on Part Two of the The Balanchine Celebration series. Bussell and Fischer dance the Pas de Deux.

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#5 rg

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Posted 20 February 2004 - 07:49 AM

there is not, to the best of my knowledge, a complete AGON available commercially.
there is a program that was aired, see below, of NYCB celebrating balanchine & stravinsky, but it was not released commercially, so it's around only on off-the-air copies.
there are excerpts on the BALANCHINE CELEBRATION, also see below, released as part of the Balanchine Libary series by Nonesuch.

Balanchine celebrates Stravinsky 1983.
90 min. : sd. color
A Great Performances/Dance in America program first broadcast on February 14, 1983 on PBS. Videotaped at the New York State Theater, New York during the Stravinsky Centennial Celebration in June 1982. Producer: Judy Kinberg. Director: Emile Ardolino.
Choreography: George Balanchine. Music: Igor Stravinsky. Lighting: Ronald Bates. Danced by members of the New York City Ballet.
CONTENTS. -Agon; danced by Heather Watts and Mel Tomlinson in principal roles, with Daniel Duell, Maria Calegari, Renee Estopinal, Victor Castelli, Catherine Morris, Helene Alexopoulos, Carole Divet, Linda Homek, Peter Frame, Wilhelmina Frankfurt. Variations; danced by Suzanne Farrell. - Persephone; introductory discussion by Vera Zorina; staging assisted by John Taras and Zorina; text: André Gide; scenery and costumes: Kermit Love. Cast: Vera Zorina (Persephone), Joseph Evans (Eumolphus), Karin Von Aroldingen (spirit of Persephone), Mel Tomlinson (Pluto), Gen Horiuchi (Mercury), with other members of the New York City Ballet.

Balanchine Celebration, part two / produced by Thirteen/WNET in association with New York City Ballet, NVC Arts, and NOS Television ; directed by Matthew Diamond ; produced by Judy Kinberg ; choreography by George Balanchine.
New York, N.Y. : Thirteen/WNET, c1993.
(86 min.) : sd., col. with b&w sequence
Notes: Host: Robert MacNeil.
Performed by New York City Ballet with guest artists.
Conductors: Hugo Fiorato, Gordon Boelzner, and Maurice Kaplow.
Executive producer, Jac Venza ; writer, Holly Brubach ; lighting, Mark Stanley.
Western symphony: Fourth movement, Rondo / music, Hershy Kay ; scenery, John Boyt ; costumes, Karinska ; danced by Susan Jaffe (American Ballet Theatre), Nikolaj Hübbe, and ensemble.
Agon: selections / music, Igor Stravinsky ; danced by Peter Boal, Zippora Karz, and Kathleen Tracey (first pas de trois) ; Albert Evans, Arch Higgins, and Wendy Whelan (second pas de trois) ; Darcey Bussell (Royal Ballet) and Lindsay Fischer (pas de deux).
Who cares?: selections / music, George Gershwin ; cast: The man I love: Viviana Durante (Royal Ballet) and Robert La Fosse ; I'll build a stairway to paradise: Lourdes Lopez ; Embraceable you: Heather Watts and Jock Soto ; Fascinatin' rhythm: Judith Fugate ; Who cares?: Melinda Roy and Ronald Perry (Dance Theatre of Harlem) ; My one and only: Elizabeth Loscavio (San Francisco Ballet) ; Liza: Jeremy Collins (American Ballet Theatre) ; I got rhythm / danced by entire cast and ensemble.
Stars and stripes: Fourth and fifth campaigns / music, John Philip Sousa, adapted and orchestrated by Hershy Kay ; danced by Margaret Tracey, Damian Woetzel, and ensemble.
Closing speech and toast by Peter Martins, with Lincoln Kirstein, Jerome Robbins, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and company members.
Performance recorded at New York State Theater, New York, on June 27, 1993. Telecast by Thirteen/WNET on the Great Performances: Dance in America series.
Second part of the closing night program of the New York City Ballet's Balanchine Celebration. For the first part of this telecast, see: *MGZIC 9-4138. In addition to performance footage, this telecast includes comments by ballet master in chief Peter Martins, archival footage of Balanchine, and reminiscences by dancers Melinda Roy, Lourdes Lopez, Judith Fugate, Diana White, Maria Calegari, Darci Kistler, Katrina Killian, and Heléne Alexopoulos.

#6 Brendan McCarthy

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Posted 20 February 2004 - 10:15 AM

Thank you all for your very detailed - and helpful - answers. In answer to Leigh, the Royal Ballet 'Stravinsky Staged' triple bill was in 2001. The BBC recorded the programme, Agon excepted.

Is Agon's unavailability on DVD/VHS for commerical reasons (perhaps no producer thought it made financial sense) or has the Trust put difficulties in the way?

Agon is the major focus of Stephanie Jordan's video "Music Dances: Balanchine choreographs Stravinsky. But the rights situation is so impossible that the video is for sale to educational institutions only

#7 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 20 February 2004 - 10:22 AM

The Trust can be asked; I think the person to speak to at NYCB is Richard Dryden (or Barbara Horgan). From what I recall (it's in my article somewhere) The trust administered rights to Agon for Tanaquil LeClercq. I do not know who they devolved to on her death.

As you know, there are a lot of rights and permissions involved in releasing televised performances, including musicians. This is just me, but if there isn't an NYCB performance of Agon available, I wouldn't be surprised that they would block a Royal Ballet performance being the only commercially available version. It would be a bit like having NYCB's Bournonville Divertissements as the only Bournonville available on video. The RDB should be the primary source by rights.

#8 dirac

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Posted 20 February 2004 - 11:32 AM

The Agon pas de deux as performed by Farrell and Martins can also be seen on a video made in the seventies and released commercially -- "Peter Martins: A Dancer" (recollecting title from memory).

#9 rg

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Posted 20 February 2004 - 12:42 PM

indeed the martins video is correctly identified above, and described as follows:

Peter Martins: a dancer / produced by The Film Company, Copenhagen, and Danmarks Radio ; directed by Jorgen Leth.
W. Long Branch, N.J. : Kultur, 1978. (54 min.) : sd., col.
Script written by Jorgen Leth and Ole John.
Excerpts of dance works include: Chaconne (Balanchine) with Farrell and Martins, Calcium light night (Martins) with Watts and Duell, Agon (Balanchine) with Farrell and Martins, and Tchaikovsky pas de deux (Balanchine) with Martins.
Various aspects of Peter Martins' career as principal dancer with the New York City Ballet are documented. Mr. Martins is shown being coached by Stanley Williams, in ballet class, preparing for performance, coaching two dancers, being fitted for his Tricolore costume, rehearsing Heather Watts and Daniel Duell in Calcium light night as well as the company in Tricolore. being rehearsed with Suzanne Farrell by Jerome Robbins in Afternoon of a faun and by Stanley Williams in Tchaikovsky pas de deux.

#10 Brendan McCarthy

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Posted 21 February 2004 - 03:29 AM

On Leigh's point, I have the impression that the negotiation of artists' rights is less complex in Europe than in the U.S. If NYCB has a veto, the effect of this is that much Balanchine will remain unavailable on commercial video until the material is out of copyright, since NYCB has -presumably - no plans of its own in that direction. If an enterprising producer were to propose a Kirov/Balanchine DVD (with potentially less complex artists' rights issues), the project would presumably fall on similar grounds to the BBC/Royal Ballet project.

If market conditions in the U.S. limit the possibilities there of getting a work such as Agon on commercial video, it seems a shame that this in turn should limit the possibilities of making progress elsewhere.


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