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Mark Morris Sylvia


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#31 cargill

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 10:03 AM

I'm still trying to grasp Delibes as a minor, academic composer! This reviewer, I expect, will spend a great deal of time in Hell listening to the collected works of Pugni.

#32 Alexandra

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 10:07 AM

I was struck by that, too, and then remembered that many in the contemporary music world cannot bear to listen to "Giselle". They think of Adam and Delibes the way many ballet people think of Pugni and Minkus.

#33 cargill

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 01:01 PM

Well, I happen to love Minkus and Pugni!

#34 Helene

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 05:06 PM

I was so enchanted by Sylvia, I want it to start all over again, right now!

This is long, because no one else has described all of the dances and action, and since it's rarely seen if not new, I didn't quite know what to expect from it.

In Sylvia Morris starts with a canvas of a youthful near-utopia, where mortal and demi-god creatures are free to be themselves, be that dryad, satyr, naiad, nymph, or village youth, and they are satisfied with who they are, living in the moment. While there is a sweetness that pervades throughout, there's nothing innocent or precious about them, and they are portrayed alternately with sensuality and power and languidness. The fly in the ointment is that Sylvia, gleefully interested only in her battalion of Diana's hunting nymphs, is pursued by two males: the young, heartsick Aminta and the gruff, lustful Orion. The god Eros decided to get involved, and by making her fall in love with Aminta, makes her vulnerable to Orion's abduction. That is a lot of characterization and action to happen in Act I.

The ballet begins with the dryads and satyrs, dancing separately and then together, each of four pairs with a characteristic lift. The Naiads enter next, with a gait on pointe that looks like they've come out of the ocean onto the burning sand. When the music repeats, the dryads and satyrs do a variation on their original choreography, while the naiads repeat their entrance, and then they split into trios of one of each character. Each trio does its own lifts and choreography simultaneously, until they drop to the floor. Each satyr goes back and forth between his dryad and naiad, eliciting various responses from the females. The extended opening ends with all of them nesting and falling asleep.

The mortal Aminta arrives and after a declamatory solo in which he declares his love for Sylvia using vocabulary he will repeat in his big Act III variation, pledges his loyalty to Eros, asks for the god's help, and hides behind Eros' statue. Sylvia's pack of eight nymphs make a grand and joyous entrance on a slightly tilting upstage ramp, one after another striking a "ready to shoot" pose with their bows. They then come downstage and do a powerful dance -- they are cast as the "big" girls -- and then there is a fabulous entrance for Sylvia on the top of the ramp, striking the pose in the posters: fifth position on pointe, arms in a big overhead "V," one hand holding a bow. Down the ramp she bounds, and she jumps through the swirling group of (eight) nymphs on a diagonal that she repeats briefly in Act II and again in the Act III pas de deux, and leads the rest of the dance.

A restful, pastoral scene follows, in which Sylvia's Friend retrieves a swing for Sylvia from stage left and leads a dance of three of the nymphs in the center of the stage, while the other four loosen their hair and bathe it downstage right in the water (metal) on the stage apron, as Sylvia swings back and forth. It's a sensuous, intimate scene among the women, until they realize that someone's been there. When the nymphs find Aminta and haul him into downstage center, Sylvia, upstage center, pretends to shoot him with her bow, and then laughs it off. (That she's not a true Diana/Myrtha convert yet is foreshadowed by letting Aminta off with a scare; in Act III, Diana hestitates not one second before killing Orion in the same fashion and the same stage positions.) After he declares his love for her, she shoots towards Eros' statue. Aminta throws himself in front of the arrow to protect Eros, and is killed. Eros, in turn, shoots Sylvia with an arrow of love, which she picks up and puts in her sheath. She knows something's just happened, but she can't quite put her finger on what.

Orion is in wait, hoping to find Sylvia alone, and quickly portrays "I want, I want, I want," which reminded me a little of Lysander's gesture, after Puck has mistakenly made him fall in love with Helena, who is happily united with Demetrius: "Me. Owns. Her." Enter the village youth, after Orion goes off to lie in wait. If there was any part of Act I that was a little slow, it was probably this dance, which could have been part of just about any story ballet, or possibly any story ballet score. After they leave temporarily, Sylvia returns, drawn to Aminta, but Orion seizes the moment and kidnaps her. When the villagers return and find Aminta's body, Eros, dressed as a sorcerer, brings Aminta to life, after a solo that had Morris' name written all over it, full of South Asian imagery, some reminiscent of Serenade, his recent solo to Lou Harrison's gamelan-inspired music.

Act II opens with a powerful solo for Orion around an altar-like flat rock on which Sylvia's unconscious body lay. Bypassing the obvious, Morris choreographed a solo in which nearly all of the big movement was done from the waist up. (Later Orion gets a mini-solo with some double tours, but his character is mostly grounded.) When he first touches the still-sleeping Sylvia, she flicks him off and turns on her side, like someone who is not used to sharing her bed. Dreaming, presumably of Aminta, she then does a magical little gesture in which she does a slow port de bras into fifth, and by doing so, wraps her arm around Orion's hovering neck, and he slowly lifts her to sitting position. Then she wakes, and shows her dismay at Orion being there. He chases around her, as she realizes that she's stuck in the cave.

Enter Orion's band of goofs, who act as if they've been watching football and drinking beer for the last two decades and have never been on a date (or had a sister). Morris gives them a lumbering line dance and lots of hunched over, grounded movement. By contrast, Orion shows his supremacy to them by his open chest. Sylvia teaches them to make wine from grapes -- slamming her toe shoe tips into the rock -- and gets them all drunk, and then starts a dance in which she jumps up on and leaps off the rock into the waiting arms of Orion's band. As they get drunker and drunker, there is a frenetic, spontaneous-looking though carefully choreographed free-for-all, as Orion's goofballs start emulate Sylvia's dancing, jumping off of the rocks into each other's arms and dancing with each other, until they all pass out.

Sylvia is still stuck in the cave, and she prays to Eros and makes him an offering of her bow and sheath of arrows on the rock, Eros appears, frees her, and once the stone on which Eros was standing moved into the wings, reveals an exhausted Aminta, sleeping in a swing. The transformation takes place out of the cave when the asymmetrical drapes forming the walls of the cave lower to the ground, covering Orion and his boys, and revealing Eros atop the giant stone that closed the mouth of the cave. From the Dress Circle, this didn't have much of an effect, but from the Balcony Circle, it was magic to see Eros revealed up above as the back curtain lowered. (Very Ring of the Nibulungen like.) For all of the lack of traditional set dance pieces in Act II, Orion's world, and Sylvia's many reactions to it, were characterized through wonderfully inventive and invocative movement, alternating between humor and danger and pathos.

Act III opens on a blinding white set with three stairs on both sides and upstage, in back of which are pedestals and statues of Vesta, Diana, Bacchus, and a fourth god, and begins with a juicy, bounding dance for two men called "heralds" in the cast list; these are the meatiest male roles after the three leads. They are joined by the male "celebrants," who also have a buoyant dance, joined by the woman, who get to dance a bit with the men. As Bacchanales go, this is one is upbeat, without any hint of debauchery. Aminta enters, a bit brooding, until a pirate ship comes by, bearing seven "slaves" in harem attire and veiled with wide scarves, which gives some oomph to the patterns they create. Finally, Sylvia in pink performs a wonderful variation in a more formal mode than her earlier warlike choreography, while Aminta is veiled. She's joined by Aminta in a moving pas de deux, in which Sylvia finally reveals herself to the amazement of Aminta, and they are joined. The veil is used beautifully throughout. I believe that it is after a group dance that Aminta unleashes a wonderful solo, which contains the core of his first solo, but expands with the joy of someone who is loved and has been accepted. Not only are the steps and the line difficult, but it would look ridiculous if performed like a prince, and it takes the commitment of the dancer not to fall into a habitual portrayal. (I don't think his solo comes after Diana is in the picture, but I could be remembering this wrong.)

Orion shows up and claims Sylvia for himself, ready to take on Aminta. Sylvia tries to prevent a fight, when Diana shows up, like a lightning bolt. After a powerful entrance solo, she stands upstage, shoots Orion through the heart, and then rejects Sylvia's plea for mercy. Diana's fury felt more dangerous than the potential rape of Sylvia by Orion -- partly because Orion's goons were humorous, but also because there was some inherent bone of decency in Orion, despite himself, while Diana takes no prisoners -- but, again, Eros in the guise of the Pirate comes to fix what he broke, by revealing Diana's seduction of a very beautiful mortal boy. Diana relents, and Sylvia and Aminta are united through two lovely gestures: a repeat of the touching of index fingers from the pas de deux -- like in Apollo, but facing each other -- and jointly holding high the arrow of Eros. In the background are Eros and Diana, upstage center, holding their bows in shooting position, portraying opposites and, in Maffre's rendition, mortal enemies.

The two casts I saw gave starkly different portrayals. On Saturday night, Liz Miner portrayed a Golden Girl Sylvia, and not just literally: the tall, lean, blond, smart, athletic, charismatic leader, who is very much one of her pack, but is the girl all the others follow, if only to be in her orbit. Pascal Molat's Aminta was a gentle man, the type to whom the high-spirited Sylvia would have given the "let's be friends" speech, had she been interested in men. By her third act solo, Miner had bloomed into a calmer version of her earlier self. During the pas de deux, it's as if she delays unveiling herself to hold on to the moment a while longer; Molat can't quite believe at first that she really loves him. In this pairing Molat's Aminta gains more presence and confidence to match his gentleness and Miner's Sylvia gains more softness to go with her strength. While Diana and Eros behind them will continue their battle, in this cast Sylvia and Aminta meld into perfect complements of each other. In the wedding reception betting pool, I would give great odds for these two to stay together.

By contrast, on Sunday afternoon, Megan Low's Sylvia was the prodigy, or the small girl with gymnastics ability on the cheerleading squad who always ends up in the center of the formation or the top of the pyramid, but masterminding and leading in every prank. She's the leader of the nymphs by merit, but she doesn't really mesh into the sisterhood. Guennadi Nedviguine's Aminta is the boyfriend that every girl, including Sylvia, would want, if she were interested in a boyfriend. (When Sylvia keeps Molat's Aminta from fighting, it's to keep him from being beaten to a pulp, because he's not a fighter by nature. Nedviguine's Aminta needs help because he's mortal.) After she is hit by Eros' arrow, she remains the same Sylvia, only this time turning her formidable energy into bringing him along to her world. When she hesitates during the unveiling in the pas de deux, she is teasing him, and teaching him that she's the one still calling the shots. Nedviguine's performance of the Act III solo was the finest male variation I've seen danced this season in any company. I don't think that the sailing will be completely smooth for this match, though, even if that's supposed to be the moral.

Garrett Anderson's Eros/Sorcerer/Pirate in the first cast was danced in a light, Puck-like style, as if he were really having a grand time fooling all of these mortals with his disguises. By contrast James Sofranko had a more earthbound style, emphasizing the plie more than the jump, as if Peter Boal had taken the role of Puck. His was more of a battle to the death with Diana for each soul than Anderson's. Lorena Feijoo's Diana was cyclone strong, but when her tryst with Endymion was revealed, she cut her losses fairly quickly, almost giving Eros his due. Not Muriel Maffre's Diana, who stormed in like the Queen of the Night to blast Pamina for betraying her. When her tryst was revealed, she really wanted to know how this pirate person knew about this, and when Eros revealed himself, she looked like she wanted to kill him on the spot for showing that she had any vulnerability. Her final pose with Sofranko's Eros was like a nuclear stand-off. Pierre-Francois Vilanoba was the multi-faceted Orion in both performances.

The strings and woodwinds sounded wonderful in both performances. The horns and brass blended much better on Sunday afternoon, but that could have been the difference between sitting lower in house and in the Balcony Circle; the sound was better up higher in general. Andrew Mogrelia conducted both performances. After Sunday's performance, three of the slave girls took an extended bow to cheers from the company and orchestra; I assume that was their last performance with the Company. I think I figured out which of the heralds was apprentice Garen Scribner; he continued to applaud the principals as they came out for bows, until the girl next to him grabbed his hand and made him stop smile.gif

I think the strength of the ballet is that Morris clearly believes in the score and because he paints what he hears and not a drop more, he chooses movement that brings out the innateness of the characters. While there is plenty of humor in the ballet, I didn't see a single wink.



#35 firedog

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 08:55 PM

I read somewhere that Delibes' "librettisists" had altered the plot to pander to 19th century sensitivities, but how could there be a "libretto" when there is no dialog and the plot is entirely communicated by non-verbal devices ?? Does anyone know about this ? Would a composer writing a ballet then actually have a separate person or persons working out the plot ?! When Diana knocks off Orion in two seconds with her silver bow in the 3rd Act it is actually rather comic since she is a Goddess and it is her perfect right.


(The rest of this post was deleted accidentally by an idiot moderator, i.e., me, who was trying to answer a post and talk on the phone at the same time, and clicked the edit button instead of the quote button. Firedog -- please accept my apologies. I've emailed you to explain.)

Edited by Alexandra, 11 May 2004 - 09:36 PM.


#36 firedog

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 09:24 PM

Wow, Helene - thank you for the superb descriptions of the dance sequences in this Morris Sylvia, and of Saturday & Sundays performances in particular ! It is amazing how different the performances were with each casting change. After I'd seen Friday's performance I had rather wanted to see one of the last two with the cast mixed about, but couldn't manage it - yet now with your keen description, I have got some idea of what those performances were like !

This ballet really was a joy, and like you, I would happily see it again !

thumbsup.gif



#37 Alexandra

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 09:41 PM

Yes, Helene -- THANK YOU. I always appreciate the detail you take with your reviews. Thanks for giving us such a good idea of the ballet. Opinions will vary, of course, but the people I've talked to would agree with your last comment, I think -- their take was that Morris took the ballet seriously and didn't condescend to it, but rather revelled in it. There are bits in the music that couldn't be done grandly. I also think that in the original, there was probably a bit of mockery of the tradition; they had had it with the gods by that time, and the old aesthetic of retelling the classical myths was no longer ascendant.

Firedog, if you're still speaking to me, this is what I was trying to do above.

I read somewhere that Delibes' "librettisists" had altered the plot to pander to 19th century sensitivities, but how could there be a "libretto" when there is no dialog and the plot is entirely communicated by non-verbal devices ?? Does anyone know about this ? Would a composer writing a ballet then actually have a separate person or persons working out the plot ?!


Good question. By the 19th century, usually there was a separate person who wrote the librettos for ballets. (There were exceptions; the Danish choreographer August Bournonville wrote his own libretti, which he called "ballet poems" and scorned those choreographers who turned over this task.) The libretti had to be turned into the theater's censor; often the librettist would be a theater employee, sometimes, as in the case of Theophile Gautier who wrote the libretto for "Giselle," a poet in his own right. The libretti don't include the dances, just something like "a brilliant pas de trois" or "the nymphs then dance a ballabile," but give the story in great detail. There was much more mime in 19th century ballets than we have now. If you'd like to see some examples, you might want to look at Cyril W. Beaumont's "Complete Book of the Ballets." He prints many of the libretti for the 19th century ballets, as well as cast lists and commentary. (The original "Sylvia" is in there.)

#38 firedog

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 09:55 PM

Welcome, firedog!  And thank you for that beautiful review.  I wonder if the decor was deliberately over the top? The score isn't logical -- isn't all comic, nor all grand ballet. (I write that not having seen it, of course.)

fyi, I just put up two reviews of Sylvia on DanceViewTimes -- www.danceviewtimes, if you don't know it.  One by Rita Felciano and one by Paul Parish.  Ann Murphy wrote last week, and will write a "second look" piece this week. All loved it.

DanceView Times

:thumbsup:

Hi Alexandra ~

Many thanks for posting the really sweet Dance Times reviews of Sylvia by Paul Parrish & Rita Felciano - they make our local reviewers here in S.F. sound as clueless as Orion's slaves by comparison !!!


#39 Alexandra

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 10:02 PM

Thank you! Actually, Paul Parish (who sometimes posts here, and I hope will come in and comment on "Sylvia") and Rita Felciano (who is not, alas, a net person) are San Francisco critics. Here are brief bios:

DanceViewTimes About Us page

(scroll down; they're in alphabetical order. And apologies to other readers for going off topic. There's lots to discuss in "Sylvia"!)

#40 firedog

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Posted 11 May 2004 - 11:39 PM

There are bits in the music that couldn't be done grandly.  I also think that in the original, there was probably a bit of mockery of the tradition; they had had it with the gods by that time, and the old aesthetic of retelling the classical myths was no longer ascendant.

Firedog, if you're still speaking to me, this is what I was trying to do above.

I read somewhere that Delibes' "librettisists" had altered the plot to pander to 19th century sensitivities, but how could there be a "libretto" when there is no dialog and the plot is entirely communicated by non-verbal devices ?? Does anyone know about this ? Would a composer writing a ballet then actually have a separate person or persons working out the plot ?!


Good question. By the 19th century, usually there was a separate person who wrote the librettos for ballets. (There were exceptions; the Danish choreographer August Bournonville wrote his own libretti, which he called "ballet poems" and scorned those choreographers who turned over this task.) The libretti had to be turned into the theater's censor; often the librettist would be a theater employee, sometimes, as in the case of Theophile Gautier who wrote the libretto for "Giselle," a poet in his own right. The libretti don't include the dances, just something like "a brilliant pas de trois" or "the nymphs then dance a ballabile," but give the story in great detail. There was much more mime in 19th century ballets than we have now. If you'd like to see some examples, you might want to look at Cyril W. Beaumont's "Complete Book of the Ballets." He prints many of the libretti for the 19th century ballets, as well as cast lists and commentary. (The original "Sylvia" is in there.)

Hi Alexandra ~

Ouch ! - most of my post got deleted when you hit that button !! I think I can remember posting that I thought that the plot of Sylvia was one of the mysterious things about it, that I thought that in spite of the pathos & drama in the story that it was basically a comedy, because it all ends happily; and that I'd noticed that there had been some significant changes to the plot of Torquato Tasso's Italian Renaissance masterpiece from which it was taken - for example, in Tasso's play Amintas, in despair of getting Sylvia, trys to suicide by leaping off a cliff, yet not only is he spared from death when a bush breaks his fall, but also he wins Sylvia at last because seeing his near-death finally breaks her resolve to resist him. That the best comedy is usually highlighted by tragedy, even if the last lurks just below the surface of the events depicted. Also that the ending with Eros winning his merry prank in masquerade as a Persian pirate, Diana forgiving Sylvia & Aminta, and Diana & Eros reconciled (or at least agreeing to suspend hostilities . .) was really quite sublime.

I also thought there were comic intentions in Allen Moyer's parlor-room decor in the First Act, but that he had pushed it too far, and that it crossed over the thin line from of what is comic to what is just gross & to what actually detracts from the production. For example, I'd really enjoyed the sharp counterpoint of the nymphs & satyrs dancing that opens the First Act, but that all of this classic baroque pecision choreography made no sense in front of the set of sheer rococco Late Victorian excess. A little more sublime in the First Act (sets fitting the music) would also have balanced off Morris's Sylvia a lot better . . .



#41 Helene

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 07:46 AM

Many thanks for posting the really sweet Dance Times reviews of Sylvia by Paul Parrish & Rita Felciano

I totally agree!!! They were so incisive and beautifully written. I read them after I had posted and realized that I didn't have to say anything -- they had said it all!

#42 Alexandra

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 08:26 AM

Then I'm glad you read them after you posted, HF!

I was struck by the sense I'm getting, especially from Paul, that "Sylvia" is classical ballet reinvented -- something many of us have been waiting for. Instead of fiddling with a tired, old ballet, he just....took it from the top.

I especially liked one thing Paul wrote:

Morris has moreover embraced this project with such sympathy for the conventions, such a delight in the game itself, and such a whole-hearted response to the music of Leo Delibes, that he accomplishes a feat like Shakespeare did. He brings the old things back in new ways, so that you recognize mythological creatures as they were in Homer or Ovid, and at the same time you see they have a life of their own all over again that's not derivative but original. And also like Shakespeare, in so doing he's created his audience, fusing a crowd made up of the aristocracy and the groundling, of scholars who could recite the "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and computer scientists who don't recognize the name of Keats (author of that Ode, a name once known in all educated households but not any more), into a group of people who respond with delight and understanding to the kind of playful beauty this ballet presents.


Hockeyfan, firedog, anyone! Is this your sense, too, or no? (Of course, please feel free to disagree.)

#43 Paul Parish

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 08:24 PM

I'm just catching up with htese reports... a little out of breath.

Thanks for the compliment, Helene, but my hat's off to YOU... that's a FANTASTIC report, just fantastic --my only regret is that you didn't see Castillo as Eros and have a chance to see what HE did --but then, with your sensitivities, you might have gone out of your mind, and we'd have lost you.

Everything about his reading was extraordinary -- his timing, his plastique, his way of NAILING a pose (as the ARab, he'd spring up into a sissone to pointe in a Blasis attitude and HOLD it, like the statue of Eros in Picadilly circus, there for all eternity), the way he'd initiate a movement with a hip-roll that would roll like a shimmy up a snake through his spine and out his crown-shakra with a visible radiance, he just shimmered. He;'s not as stocky as Anderson or Sofranko -- who're both wonderful dancers, love them, but effects like this just don't show up in their bodies. Castillo has almost gumby-flexibility. But he's also got control, and an imaginatoin. (He was the goon with hte really high kicks when he wasn't Eros.)his timing was so idiosyncratic, totally within hte counts but so UNSQUARE -- well ,I just wish you'd seen it, because then I'd have someone to compare notes with.....

Firedog, did you see him?
I've really been enjoying your comments, not sure I've seen them all yet.

yes, those carnations were mighty loud.... Did you love Sherri LeBlanc in that waltz?
I pretty much loved all the costumes, I could have done with a little less swathing of Nicholas Blanc, the wrong parts of his toga kept flying up and getting in the way of some VERY beautiful dancing.

And i REALY agree with you about Guennadi Nedviguine's Aminta -- I'm told, on GOOD authority, that he danced Friday night on a cortisone shot and that the MIner/Molat cast was on notice they MIGHT have to dance that performance -- his whole performance was impeccable, he was the only one who made a really generous renverse out of the finish to that attitude turn in hte first act, and it established his generosity, that overflowing quality to his love which makes it feel so generous and lovable -- and which sets up his last-act variation, that SPECTACULAR renverse he does after each pirouette -- for y;'all who weren't there, his last act variation comes after he's danced the adage with Sylvia, after (I think) a group dance for hte harem-pants girls, and expresshis exhilaration at having found her, and begins with a colossal 7-or-8 turn pirouette plunging forward into an attitude penchee -- a motif that gets developed even further in the dazzling supported pirouettes of the coda, where it is hte germ of the ballerina's dive that turns into the grand jete around the corner (which is a real contribution to "the hard book" -- the new virtuoso steps they'll codify into the things you have to do at Varna or Jackson)....



#44 Paul Parish

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 09:21 PM

however the choreography suddenly changed to Modern Dance with a few ballet steps for just Sylvia herself, and the plot suddenly got a bit murky.


Firedog, I've just re-read your wonderful post--

And well, like you, I just don't know where people get off talking about Delibes likethat. It's fantastically intelligible music, and SO danceable -- James Brown himself can not put more boogie in my butt than the Prelude to act 2 does -- and there's nobody dancing att all except us in the audience who can't sit still....

But I wanted to address what you said about Act 2. Until I saw the second act of Bournonville's A folk Tale, I'd have had to describe Morris 's second act much as you do -- but there's Bournonville making a WHOLE ACT out of trolls getting drunk, and it's full of grotesque dancing, hilarious, contrasting with the classical dancing of a sweet girl they're holding captive. It really opened my eyes to the value of contrasting styles of movement in a ballet -- email me, I can show yu the tape if you're interested.


THat act of a Folk Tale must have been known, I think, to the team that put hte original Sylvia together. (Alexandra would know better than I -- she's an expert on Bournonville) SO Morris need not have modeled his act on Bournonville -- they'd already done it. Morris does not match Bournonville in terms of gusto or brilliance of invention -- but then trolls are more brilliant and quirky creatures that Orion's slaves are.

In any case, "grotesque' dancing used to be one of the metiers. If you weren't tall and pretty, you could still dance -- like Wayne Sleep, who's the twentieth century equivalent of a court dwarf, and got a LOT of great roles, has had a great career, and was much prized. Way back when, in Shakespeare's day, at the court of James II, professional dancers used to have to specialize in the big athletic grotesque dances; a ltitle later Louis XIV and his court got to do the elegant dancing in court masques and would assert their sovereignty over the chaotic forces of (you name it -- Night, Pestilence, War) who'd be danced by the professional dancers who were kept as part of hte royal household (the Roi Soleil was literally one of Louis XIV's roles, as you probably know, forggive me for 'lecturing' -- but if you don't know it, check out Lincoln Kirstein's readable book, 50 ballet masterpieces for a really eye-opening glimpse into the fore-runners of ballet today...

Sorry as i've written this I've kinda gotten carried away - -I hope this isn' overbearing, or if it is that you'll forgive me.... I've just been so intersted in everythig you had to say, I got all fired up....

#45 Helene

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 10:28 PM

I especially liked one thing Paul wrote:

Morris has moreover embraced this project with such sympathy for the conventions, such a delight in the game itself, and such a whole-hearted response to the music of Leo Delibes, that he accomplishes a feat like Shakespeare did. He brings the old things back in new ways, so that you recognize mythological creatures as they were in Homer or Ovid, and at the same time you see they have a life of their own all over again that's not derivative but original. And also like Shakespeare, in so doing he's created his audience, fusing a crowd made up of the aristocracy and the groundling, of scholars who could recite the "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and computer scientists who don't recognize the name of Keats (author of that Ode, a name once known in all educated households but not any more), into a group of people who respond with delight and understanding to the kind of playful beauty this ballet presents.


Hockeyfan, firedog, anyone! Is this your sense, too, or no? (Of course, please feel free to disagree.)

Balanchine always said that he didn't invent; instead he assembled what G-d had already created. To me it was the choice of movement that Morris assembled that was original, an inspiration, and breathed life into the characters. Sylvia wasn't ballet reinvented in the sense of being ground-breaking or creating a new form, like Four Temperaments did. It was more as if an old form was lovingly reinterpreted.


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