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Celia Yves

Your Own Dream Ballet and Cast

20 posts in this topic

How's this for a topic?

If you were able to stage any ballet(s), danced by any dancers, past or present, what would this (these) ballet(s) be, and who would dance in it (them?)

Celia, thinking hard about her own choices.

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I think this is a very good topic. I've thought of something similar, as a kind of video game. (I'm sure it would be technically possible but, like most things to do with ballet, economically impossible.)

I'd like to see all the great dancers in all the roles I didn't see them do in real life, for starters. When I first got into ballet, I was just grateful that I'd caught a glimpse of Fonteyn and Sibley -- then it dawned on me that there were people who had had the pleasure of watching those dancers their whole careers. Gr-r-r-r-r.

There are too many performances in that category to count, so I'll go with some "might have beens" or "should have beens."

Sibley and Dowell in "La Sylphide." Ashton wanted the ballet for the Royal in the '60s, but the Danes wouldn't give it to him.

Svetlana Beriosova and Henning Kronstam in anything -- they were supposed to be a partnership, and several people tried several times to "matchmake" them, but chance and politics intervened.

Makarova and Nureyev, together or separately, in the Balanchine repertory.

The Bolshoi dancing the Massine symphonic ballets. The Kirov in an all-Balanchine season.

Gelsey Kirkland in all the roles that should have been her birthright.

I'm all out of money now.

Alexandra

[This message has been edited by alexandra (edited 02-07-99).]

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Darci Kistler as Giselle- the perfect combination of charm and tragedy! Has she ever danced this guesting with another company?

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If I was able to stage any ballet , I would like to stage Don Quixote , my favorite ballet. Angel Corella and Susan Jaffe would dance in the principal roles.

I also would like to stage La Bayadère with Baryshnikov , as Solor , Sibley as Nikiya and Cynthia Harvey as Gamzatti.

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One of the ballets that I would love to see with the cast I first saw is Dances at a Gathering. I saw it first in London, with the Royal Ballet version, which arranged the dancers slightly differently than NYCB. But basically Nureyev was brown, Lynn Seymour was green, Sibley was pink and Dowell was mauve (though their colors were different.) It was a much more extroverted and sensuous, as well as funnier performance than I see now, and is one of my all-time favorite memories. And of course, Sibley and Dowell and Alexander Grant in The Dream.

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I believe you would much rather enjoy Wayne Sleep as puck than Alexander Grant !!!

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I forgot I'd never seen the First Cast in the Dream. Sibley and Dowell in most anything, I guess. Olivier, I think Alexander Grant did Bottom, which is a big role in the Ashton version. He dances on point(e)!

If we're going to do specific things that we want to see in addition to imaginary things, then I'd have to spend the first few days in Heaven at the Fonteyn exhibit: Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Daphnis and Chloe, if I could only have three. And I never got to see Ulanova or Plisetskaya at all -- Ulanova as Giselle and Juliet, please, and Plisetskaya in Don Q, and the two of them in Baksichirai. I suppose one's afterlife could not be complete without a glimpse of Nijinsky and Pavlova. I'd let them choose (anything but Spectre and Dying Swan). And Gerda Karstens' Madge, which can still give those who saw it shivers. And then there's the entire 19th century.

alexandra

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That's right Alexandra...Alexander Grant did bottom ! (I always picture A. Grant in Cinderella...quite a disaster there !)

I just could not forget Wayne Sleep's puck ! Amazing !

Olivier

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Yes, I was thinking about Alexander Grant as Bottom. He was so funny and so touching. I have no idea how he managed to look deadpan in a mask, but I haven't enjoyed anyone nearly as much. And his miming of his "dream", when he is vaguely remembering this lovely creature who was in love with him was so wonderful. He had such an expressive, interesting face. You didn't mean to suggest that he was a disaster in Cinderella, did you! I never saw him in that, unfortunately.

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Well...yes I did...

He is on the tape of the Royal Ballet's Ashton, with Dowell and Sibley and Ashton/Helpman as the step-sisters...

I thought he was a mess ! He's got the look and the charm, but his dancing was just not there...

But you are right about his 'bottom'...very touching !

Olivier

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I think Grant was a bit too old for that film. One of the problems with a lot of the videos is that when TV came along, there was an understandable desire to capture the great dancers -- unfortunately, most of them seem to have been between 45 and 60! I've never seen more than five minutes of Fonteyn on video that do her justice, for example.

I'm too lazy to look him up, but I think Grant was born in 1925, and I think the Cinderella was filmed in 1969 (?), so he was 44. His Tirenio in the film of Ondine is better. I just trust contemporary accounts that he was a very strong and unusual dancer. Also, a British accounts say that he gave the jester a sense of irony that hasn't been seen since.

Sorry for dragging the point out, and I don't mean to quibble for the sake of quibbling. It's interesting -- and scary -- to realize what an impact a video can have. A whole career comes down to a missed pirouette, and that's what becomes history.

Alexandra

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By coincidence I was at a lecture-demonstration a few days ago which featured Alexander Grant talking about two of his roles - Alain in La Fille mal Gardee and the jenster in Cinderella. He had Jonathan Howells, a young dancer from the Royal Ballet to assist.

Grant had been coaching Howells as Alain for the recent series of RB performances, so not surprisingly he had no problems with the excerpts Howells showed us. Nor did the rest of us - he has been widely hailed as the best Alain since Grant himself, though he is far from a carbon copy, having developed his own different approach to the role. (He is taller and slimmer than Grant.) (This, incidentally, should quiet the complaints of dancers and younger ballet goers that we oldsters will never admit that anyone is as good as the original casts: I would be quite happy to see Howells alternate with Grant in my dream casts for Fille.)

Things were very different when they came to look at the Jester, which Howells has been dancing but without the benefit of Grant's coaching. He went through the Jester's solos from Act 2 as he'd been taught them and Grant stopped him at least three times and said what he was doing was not authentic. The original version, which he described, was in every case more difficult and more interesting. Grant suggested that the reason for these changes having crept in was that he himself, when he grew too old to manage the proper steps, had changed them so he could get through; and it was at that stage that the video was made - and he suggested RB casts are now being taught from that.

We so often hear about and speculate about 'erosion' and how it occurs, and to see someone who absolutely knows the authentic version picking out the bits that have gone wrong was just riveting. I only hope the RB will take it on board!

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I remember when I worked with Alexander grant...

He is quite a character...fun and quite charming...

He helped a lot on Ashton's 'Facade'...

It is a very hard piece to show on this continent...the humour has to be right !

And his help was very appreciated...

We need more coach like him...

People who knows from their own experiences...

Olivier

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Hello, Alexandra and everybody

Sorry I was so late in posting my own list, but I could not quite make up my mind. Now follows a completely wild list, mainly of dancers/ ballets whose combination made me think "What If?..." Tell me what you think, and feel free to poke fun.

This might seem silly, but what about Tallchief and Nijinsky in something vibrant, like Firebird, or the Blue Bird pdd?

Nureyev and Farrell in something non-abstract and majestic. The original Swan Lake?

I wonder what Fonteyn would have made out of Balanchine - perhaps somebody (Alexandra?) who has seen her dance might have an answer. I know that the legs up to there style was not her thing, but she seems to have been such a phenomenal dancer that it is impossible for her not to have made the audience see in Balanchine something which has not been seen before. What Balanchine ballets, if any, do you see her in?

Baryshnikov in Corsaire, because of his impetuosity, with a dancer who portrays fragility. Fonteyn again, or maybe... Pavlova? Asylmuratova?

Celia

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Glad you posted this, Celia -- very imaginative!

I should first hasten to say that, although Fonteyn was my first ballerina and I'm a great admirer, I saw her very seldom and at the end of her career, so I'm not the best person to speculate on what she could have done (she did an awful lot! For a good retrospective of her career, see Keith Money's "Fonteyn: The Making of a Legend.")

She did dance one Balanchine role, and was not considered a success in it -- "Ballet Imperial." Perhaps she was too imperial. I don't think it was lack of legginess as much as the fact that Fonteyn was very classical and very centered, as opposed to neoclassical and uncentered.

I love the idea of pairing Farrell and Nureyev; I used to fantasize about that when it was actually a possibility! She would have been a bit tall for him, but so were Gregory and Evdokimova, and that didn't deter him.

Thanks for your good ideas -- please keep posting!

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Re: Farrell and Nureyev. They actually danced Apollo with the Pennsylvania Ballet, and discussed doing Mozartiana and Paul Mejia's Cinderella also. The Cinderella discussions went nowhere according to Farrell's autobiography, but she's too discreet and tactful to say why (one of the disappointing things about the book, incidentally).

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I would love to see my favorite Kirov Ballet dancers in Balanchine's JEWELS:

Emeralds - Svetlana Zakharova & Andrian Fadeev

Rubies - Diana Vishneva & Viacheslav Samodurov, with Tatiana Serova as the "tall girl" soloist

Diamonds - Uliana Lopatkina & Igor Zelensky

Maybe, if we're lucky, this will indeed happen next year. smile.gif

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Jeannie, the Kirov should have already premiered in St. Petersburg "Jewels" by now. Do you know what the actual cast list was? I'd also love to see your cast list for "Jewels".

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Kevin - There was an aborted attempt to stage JEWELS last spring. I believe that cost was the main reason for this. Instead, they brought in Francia Russell to "refresh" some of their existing Balanchine repertoire...yes, even the SERENADE was not new to the St. Petersburg "state ballets" system, as it already existed in the repertoire of the Maly/Moussorgsky.)

JEWELS is not scheduled for this season. The only new ballets this season are the Alexei Ratmansky ballets (premiered last November) and the new/old setting of SLEEPING BEAUTY, which will premiere in New York. On the other hand, there have been at least FIVE--count 'em--FIVE opera premieres (either new commissioned operas or major revivals) during the past 12 months at the Mariinsky. Not fair, I say! - Jeannie

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