White Elephants - repost
Posted 07 November 1998 - 09:32 AM
My own least-favored ballet of this sort was Balanchine's setting of "Don Quixote" with music by Nicholas Nabokov, and decor/costumes by Esteban Frances/Rouben Ter-Arutunian (or was it the other way 'round?). Anyway, this balletic stuffed owl held a sort of morbid fascination for me - I had to see it at least once a year in order to assure myself that it was as bad as I remembered. I did like the "white scene" in the forest however, and Marnee Morris and Anthony Blum's variations were really very good. I did think that the palace set would go very well for somebody's production of Act III "Swan Lake", in fact, the sets and costumes were the best things about this turkey.
I did feel some justification a number of years after they had dropped it from the active repertoire, when a major NYC critic admitted in an interview that the opening night critics had colluded to give it good reviews even though they thought at the time it was wretched. They opined that had they given it the bombing it deserved, it would have killed NYCB, so expensive had the production been to mount - a real White Elephant. Anybody else have pet hates, great or small?
[This message has been edited by Mel Johnson (edited 11-12-98).]
[This message has been edited by Mel Johnson (edited 11-22-98).]
Posted 12 November 1998 - 10:00 PM
How about MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet? It's not that it was declared a Major Masterpiece when it was new, although it was certainly encouraged, but now it's seeped into the repertory and become the Standard Version. And "Manon" is following quickly on its heels.
Posted 14 November 1998 - 06:19 AM
Posted 14 November 1998 - 08:50 AM
Posted 17 November 1998 - 07:03 PM
I'd axe a fair chunk of Act I of Giselle. And absolutely, definitely and finally the D'Jampe dance in Bayadere, which I loathe and have yet to see anyone do properly. Oh, and most of the last act of Beauty, except for the Bluebird and grand pdds.
Posted 17 November 1998 - 08:44 PM
I did think, however, that all the extraneous characters in the Cabinet de Fees made a lot more sense when I found out that the original production's final tableau was arranged around a large image of Louis XIV, in order to celebrate the joys of autocracy. That still doesn't help silly choreography, though.
Posted 18 November 1998 - 09:52 AM
were we separated at birth or something like that? It's probably something about "great minds" and we'll just ignore anyone who mentions fools . . .
Posted 18 November 1998 - 10:32 AM
Posted 19 November 1998 - 08:19 AM
Posted 19 November 1998 - 09:36 AM
There are people working on the Stepanov notation -- even in Russia. There have been reports in the Dancing Times for the past several issues about this. I think there are some people working on it in America as well; problem is finding a company that can dance it.
This is not to say that, when facing seven Sleeping Beauties in a week done by X or Z company, I would not gladly pay the conductor to skip Cats, because I would. But I don't think that's Sleeping Beauty's fault. (BTW, when the Royal Danes did Helgi Tomasson's Sleeping Beauty a few years ago, one of their leading critis found the whole thing a bore except for cats, which he said -- not an exact quote -- was the only sexy thing in the ballet. Guess it all depends on what you're looking for when you go to the ballet, not to mention how one defines "sexy things.")
[This message has been edited by alexandra (edited 11-19-98).]
Posted 19 November 1998 - 10:44 AM
Posted 19 November 1998 - 12:08 PM
Posted 20 November 1998 - 08:01 AM
Another trip to the archives and I have the program to the offending production of Beauty. The pas de quatre of the Fairies in Act III, together with some other eminently forgettable material was contributed by a frequent subject to the "White Elephants" and other threads here - MacMillan! This production didn't last too long (1973-77) and had sets by Peter Farmer, which moderated, but did not totally replace, the wrong-headed rechronologizing of the opening scenes to about Raymonda vintage, i.e. the Crusades, rather than going from late Renaissance to early Enlightenment. I remember thinking while watching it, "I want Oliver Messel!"
But back to the Florestan pas de trois for a bit - the choreography there is not Ashton's, but Bronislava Nijinska (who apparently also added the "fish dives" to the grand pas de deux [thank you, Bronia!]); she also did the "Three Ivans", replacing whatever coda there was to the pas de deux. I like Florestan, too, but the entree is a real crib from the Act I pas de trois in Swan Lake. As Tom Lehrer used to sing in "Lobachevsky" - "Plagiarize! Eet's vhy God made your eyes, so dun't shade your eyes, but plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize! - Unly remember alvays to call eet please 'research'!" Always worked for me when I was stuck for choreography!
As for the Swan Lake pas de quatre, I agree that it's terrific, but maybe not in Swan Lake! - it struck me as having a life of its own, best seen independent of a full-evening multi-act production.
[This message has been edited by Mel Johnson (edited 11-20-98).]
Posted 20 November 1998 - 09:58 AM
Posted 20 November 1998 - 07:16 PM
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