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Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux


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#16 bcash

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 06:30 PM

Darcey Bussell and Zoltan Solymosi's version was lovely, with every step "arriving with the beat".

#17 4mrdncr

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 09:05 PM

1) I was surprised by and v.glad to see Sascha Radetsky's variation in that otherwise silly film "Center Stage".

2) Another strong memory was watching a performance from the overhead catwalk(s)--a rather different perspective than most-- and seeing two technically proficient dancers, assured and comfortable with each other, yet joyful and playful onstage, who, when the curtain swung closed afterwards, both visibly limped offstage. (Both were recovering from injuries at the time.)

I agree with most of the comments from other BT posts about various dancers using it to show off their own virtuosity instead of of Mr. B's, but this also makes me really question, 'what is the original that everyone keeps modifying to fit their abilities?'

#18 Mel Johnson

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 02:39 AM

The original is what Melissa Hayden and Jacques d'Amboise did in 1960. While changing choreography is unethical when done by the dancers alone, Balanchine set many varieties of his choreography over the years, tailored to individual dancers. It's very difficult, if not impossible, to prove a negative like "Balanchine never set it that way."

#19 rg

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 05:16 AM

initially Balanchine created the duet for Violette Verdy and Conrad Ludlow.
the Balanchine Interpreters Archive did a taping session on the "original" as far as Verdy and Ludlow were concerned in which these dancers coached other, younger dancers (Peter Boal and Jenny Somogyi, as pointed out near the top of this thread), who knew the dance in its current "version" at NYCB.
to be sure, over the years, various casts performed the pas de deux with individual changes made by Balanchine himself.

here's the duet's data from the Balanchine catalogue:

331. PAS DE DEUX (also called TSCHAIKOVSKY PAS DE DEUX)
Music: By Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky (Swan Lake, Op. 20, 1875-76; pas de deux originally intended for Act III, subsequently lost from 1877 until 1953).
Choreography: By George Balanchine.
Production: Costumes by Karinska. Lighting by Jack Owen Brown; subsequently by David Hays.
Premiere: March 29, 1960, New York City Ballet, City Center of Music and Drama, New York. Conductor: Robert Irving.
Cast: Violette Verdy, Conrad Ludlow.

#20 Mel Johnson

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 06:34 AM

My apologies - you are correct, rg. The Hayden/d'Amboise pairing was the standard of my student days, so much so that the originators have become conflated in my mind with the successors. I do believe that Verdy had a version slightly different in the second period of the coda when she danced the pas de deux with André Prokovsky.

#21 leonid17

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 08:01 AM

initially Balanchine created the duet for Violette Verdy and Conrad Ludlow.
the Balanchine Interpreters Archive did a taping session on the "original" as far as Verdy and Ludlow were concerned in which these dancers coached other, younger dancers (Peter Boal and Jenny Somogyi, as pointed out near the top of this thread), who knew the dance in its current "version" at NYCB.
to be sure, over the years, various casts performed the pas de deux with individual changes made by Balanchine himself.

here's the duet's data from the Balanchine catalogue:

331. PAS DE DEUX (also called TSCHAIKOVSKY PAS DE DEUX)
Music: By Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky (Swan Lake, Op. 20, 1875-76; pas de deux originally intended for Act III, subsequently lost from 1877 until 1953).
Choreography: By George Balanchine.
Production: Costumes by Karinska. Lighting by Jack Owen Brown; subsequently by David Hays.
Premiere: March 29, 1960, New York City Ballet, City Center of Music and Drama, New York. Conductor: Robert Irving.
Cast: Violette Verdy, Conrad Ludlow.


I only saw Verdy with Villella in this pas, which remains one of my fondest memories.

Did you see Ludlow Robert and if so, how did he compare to Villella in a partnership with Verdy? Was the balance equal?

#22 rg

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 08:12 AM

alas i didn't see Ludlow perform this work.
i most recall his incomparable partnering from Emeralds in JEWELS, as well as from the Intermezzo of BRAHMS-SCHOENBERG QUARTET and as Farrell's Dulcinea-partner in DON QUIXOTE.
as to the notion of differences compared to Villella, in general, i can quote McBride quoting Balanchine when she described Balanchine's casting her with Ludlow in the instance of BRAHMS/SCHOENBERG, instead of w/ her then usual partner, Villella: "because it will be different."
Villella wasn't the partner Ludlow was, but then, who was?

#23 Helene

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 08:19 AM

I thought I had read somewhere that Balanchine's original cast was supposed to include Diana Adams, not Verdy, but Adams couldn't do it.

#24 EvilNinjaX

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 07:23 AM

I thought I had read somewhere that Balanchine's original cast was supposed to include Diana Adams, not Verdy, but Adams couldn't do it.


IIRC, Violette Verdy mentions this on the DVD where she coaches Malakhov and Illman in the pdd.

-goro-

#25 Paul Parish

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 03:54 PM

Great topic -- and on top of that, it's great the way you put the question.

For me, the versions of this I've loved best were Kyra Nichols's, Violette Verdy's, and Lorna Feijoo's. Also REALLY liked Jenny Somogyi's, which looked exactly like Kyra Nichols's (in the best possible way), and was amazed how much I liked Alexandra Ferri's, which was on YouTube for a while and sparkled with wonderful Violette-like personal energy.

Nichols I first saw in Berkeley, where she danced it with her brother Robbie, who was never famous but danced for Maria Tallchief in Chicago before coming back to Berkeley and was a very good dancer. They made it hilarious -- especially the dives at the end, which as all her fans know she did as if she were diving into a swimming pool, with NO reference to the dolphin shape of a Fonteyn fish-dive -- they were very American and flat-out hilarious, like something Carole Lombard would have done.

Violette I saw on tape at the NYPL -- and let me urge everybody to go by there when you're in NYC and SEE it. She did quite different steps from what we see now -- one very beautiful sequence of en dedans pirouettes in attitude, 4 of them at least, maybe 8 of them, and every time she came around the corner her smile lights up the world like the sun. And also -- I THINK it was in Tchai pas -- she did a series of 8 releves with double rond de jambes en l'air, each one turning an eighth, which Kyra Nichols later picked up and did in Nutcracker as the Sugar Plum Fairy -- it's very sparkly, ballerina on a music-box, fancy as can be, a kind of dance-coloratura, has to look like fun or there's NO POINT.... And Verdy made it high-spirits, like Cecilia Bartolli throwing grace notes all over the place.

Lorna Feijoo danced it with Damian Woetzel for some occasion, and every now and then the tape of it goes up on YouTube, briefly. BOTH are wonderful. He is SO generous and gracious, both to her and to the audience, and throws away his virtuoso steps as if they were presents, just a few little things he picked up in New York and thought we might like. She dances in a similar sociable spirit -- well, she's Cuban, and they DO that -- and it's just heavenly wonderful. Her variation is the most wonderful thing ever, those little passes are out of this world wonderful, they seem to be happening MILES below her, like she was Ray Bolger, and the diagonal is one long lacy phrase, ending with the most beautifully modulated chaines that I have ever seen, that winds down at the last minute into the kind of stillness Edwin Denby used to sigh over when Markova would end a phrase in perfect quiet.




We just had an interesting exchange where Michael mentioned that for him, the definitive version of this ballet is a performance on video with Patty McBride and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

I found it really interesting because to me, I find the ballet absolutely mutable. It's the little black dress of pas de deux and I've seen it done by people as diverse as Agnes Letestu and Nina Ananiashvili. I go in seeing how it's going to look on each individual dancer less than how the dancer will mold him or herself to it. I can think of plenty of people I've liked in the role, but nobody "owns" it in my head.

Which approach more defines you? Do you have an image in your mind of a definitive Tschai pas?



#26 bart

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 04:59 PM

Thank you, everyone, for reviving this thread. There's brief video online that cuts from one dancer to another, allowing one to compare some of the dancers mentioned so far.

Martins/Baryshnikov
Verdy/McBride
Hayden/Verdy
d'Amboise/Baryshnikov

The differences are clear but the effect in each instance is delightful.



Mel, I share your memory of frequent Hayden-d'Amboise performances. I loved them in this in my youth but perhaps less so today. (d'Amboise does toss a mean set of pirouetttes, however.) Martins (praised by atm711 earlier in this thread) actually impressed me more than I remembered from the stage. Verdy remains my favorite. Paul's Cecilia Bartoli analogy -- "throwing grace notes all over the place" -- is perfect.

#27 California

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 05:56 PM

. . . There's brief video online that cuts from one dancer to another, allowing one to compare some of the dancers mentioned so far.

Martins/Baryshnikov
Verdy/McBride
Hayden/Verdy
d'Amboise/Baryshnikov

The differences are clear but the effect in each instance is delightful.



. . .


That entire clip comes from the wonderful Balanchine documentary, originally on PBS, now available on DVD from www.kultur.com and elsewhere. The brief opening by Martins (used in the Balanchine documentary) was taken from the "Gala" in The Turning Point in 1977. (It's puzzling that they omitted Farrell entirely on the Balanchine documentary, as she appeared briefly in the Gala scene with Martins.) The complete McBride/Baryshnikov version is in the 1978 "Choreography by Balanchine," originally broacast on PBS, later released on VHS, now available on DVD. I don't know where the Verdy, Hayden, and d'Amboise footage came from -- although Balanchine did stage quite a few things for television in the 1950s and 60s, so that seems a likely possibility.

#28 Amy Reusch

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 06:43 PM

I thought I had read somewhere that Balanchine's original cast was supposed to include Diana Adams, not Verdy, but Adams couldn't do it.


I wish someone would ask Jacques d'Amboise about this... my memory is lousy, but I thought I remembered his son Christopher saying it had been made for Jacques, but he didn't premiere it... would it have been Adams & d'Amboise and when Verdy was switched in they also switched in Ludlow? If I remember the story right (it was a pre-performance speech, so I wasn't the only one to hear it...), Balanchine offered the rights to d'Amboise and he bashfully didn't accept them...

...but confirmation would really help here.

#29 California

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 07:04 PM

I'm looking at Nancy Reynolds' Reperetory in Review (p. 203), a wonderful resource. She lists Verdy and Ludlow in the permiere. Dancers listed for "other casts" include d'Amboise but not Adams.

Reynolds doesn't mention Adams, but says "Although obviously designed around the abilities of Verdy, the work was successfully danced by other ballerinas..." That makes me wonder if it was originally choreographed on Verdy or Adams, or if perhaps Reynolds didn't know about this history with Adams.

#30 Paul Parish

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 09:32 PM

Amy, that's very intriguing. It could be so.

It certainly happened that a role that later became famous would be started on one dancer who'd get injured and it would be premiered by another. The jumping girl in Symphony in C was designed for Gisella Caccialanza but she blew out her knee in rehearsal and never really regained her former powers, though as Mrs Lew Christensen she moved to San Francisco and made a sort of comeback here --

re that clever video, which intercuts different performers in Tchai pas-- I THINK the footage of Verdy comes from a kinescope of the Bell telephone Hour -- there's a copy at the Robbins collection of the NYPL (at Lincoln Center -- GO SEE IT), and maybe others around. If it wasn't Bell Telephone, it might have been Ed Sullivan.


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