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Seen and not seen . . .Ballets better (so far) in the mind.


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#16 carbro

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Posted 06 August 2004 - 11:28 AM

The Ideal Odette in my head was magnificently realized by Martine van Hamel in what turned out to be her final :wink: ABT/Met Swan Lake. The only problem was that it took place within the problematical Baryshnikov staging. Every mime gesture was danced, every dance element told part of the story, and technically, she was impeccable.

#17 canbelto

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 02:40 PM

I keep imagining the perfect La Bayadere, but I havent yet seen it, either on video or live. I've seen perfect Nikyas (Cojocaru, Zakharova, Asylmuratova), great Gamzattis, less perfect Solors, and only the POB video has IMO perfect Shades. And Golden Idols, and character dances ... Each performance that I've seen has had a combination of greatness but none of them had ALL the elements working together. This is IMO a ballet that relies so much on balletic ideals that no live performance could ever live up to an opium-induced vision :D

#18 Amy Reusch

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Posted 28 November 2004 - 09:20 AM

Firebird, Afternoon of a Faun, Spectre de la Rose, Dying Swan.... mostly those ballets legendary ballets of the Ballets Russes that I imagined about before seeing... (it's so hard to live up to anyone's imagination)... particularly those with music I loved (Spectre doesn't count here)... most particularly Firebird... I've never seen a Firebird leap with the energy of that music... (though I've only seen a couple of Firebirds), the women always seem inconsequential compared to the music. This might have to be a ballet filmed with tight shots on the leaps and dramatic cuts in order to get the leap to have the full impact the music does. One might have to be onstage oneself to catch the energy.

#19 Farrell Fan

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Posted 28 November 2004 - 06:34 PM

In the video "Dancing for Mr. B: Six Balanchine Ballerinas," Allegra Kent says that as a small child she wrote her mother that she wanted to be a "ballyreeny" even though she'd never seen a ballet. When she finally saw the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, she disliked "Swan Lake," "Gaite Parisienne," and, especially, "Scheherazade." She thought perhaps that even though she loved ballet, she hated ballets. The first one she saw that lived up to her mental picture of what ballet should be like was "La Sonnambula."

#20 bart

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Posted 29 November 2004 - 10:04 AM

For me, the issue is not so much "imagining" ideal performances I have not seen -- but "remembering" bits and pieces of ballets I have actually seen. And then using these fragments to transform, in my memory, the larger, often ordinary context.

In so many cases, a few glimpses remain in the mind -- some are transcendant, some are small and even silly. Fonteyn and Nureyev in Romeo and Juliet -- leaping in tandem across the stage, with Nureyev jumping just a little bit higher and remaining in the air just a little longer. Showing her up? Protecting her? That's the memory that triggers the ideal performance in my mind. Or, rather, makes an ideal performance out of what was actually rather lackluster and quickly forgotten.

"Firebird" at the NYCB at the old City Center. I was a child, but I can still recall the pallid Russian princesses, the cardboard, uninteresting Prince, the silly gobblin-like creatures like something out of a children's pageant. And the great music, which I had not heard before or even knew existed. I cannot visualize and feel the entire evening because at center was Melissa Hayden (this child's favorite NYCB dancer at that time). Sharp and imperious. (Taught me the power and danger of a pointed foot.) Then the seductive and sinuous. Those undulating arms. (Lesson: that it was possible to produce wavy, graceful, apparantly random movements perfectly and identically each time.)

#21 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 29 November 2004 - 10:38 AM

It's nice to see this topic resurrected - I hoped it would spark interest!

Bart - welcome to Ballet Talk! Those sound like wonderful, fascinating memories of performances a lot of us were never fortunate enough to see. I hope you'll be sharing more of them with us!

#22 scherzo

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 01:13 PM

I don't think I've ever seen a really fantastic full-length Sleeping Beauty live, for whatever reason, dancing or production. I guess that it's to do with the over-hype in my mind, as in: 'I'm going to see The Sleeping Beauty!!!' When you know something's A Classic...

Something that didn't quite make the impression I hoped it would was Ballet Imperial. I'd been DYING to see it for years, having adored the excerpt used in the Royal Opera House's re-opening gala in 1999. When I saw it recently (Royal Ballet), it was nice but it was over too quickly and afterwards it was like, 'What just happened? Oh well.' (Bussell was 1st ballerina, make of that what you will. :off topic:) I must say, though, it was a relief to find out that the 'flat-footed turns' that I'd read about were not as weird as I had pictured in my head!

#23 artist

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 01:24 PM

in regards to Amy Reusch and scherzo, I really enjoyed Le Spectre de la Rose by POB (I forgot the info b/c I saw it on CAS). And I think The Sleeping Beauty is best done by the Kirov, particularly with Irina Kolpakova.

I have a feeling that some of the great performances were done way back when. For example, Afternoon of a Faune & Petrouchka, w/ Nijinsky, or The Dying Swan.

#24 carbro

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 03:39 PM

I've never seen Orpheus outside the New York State Theater . . .. It has always looked disjointed to me on such a big, deep stage. . .

Funny. I have always thought the same of Concerto Barocco -- too spread out. I have often wondered if it could be just a little more compressed there without leaving dead space on the stage.

I've seen it at BAM (Pennsylvania Ballet) and Lissner (Washington Ballet) -- both about a hundred years ago. Seemed truer and more satisfying on the smaller stages.

#25 artist

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 06:23 PM

How about Symphonic Variations - w/ Anthony Dowell.

I'm sure there's a bunch who have seen and loved this one.

#26 4mrdncr

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 12:29 PM

:) For SWAN LAKE. I agree with Leigh: NG (film-speak for "not good"), not yet, not anywhere.
But, like "nysusan" some bits and pieces are remembered with awe: Blair's version with Makarova/Nagy live or tape (good sets too), and better than Makarova/Dowell; Martine van Hamel's statuesque beauty and perfect control, and Susan Jaffe's debut and amazing extensions.

GISELLE: Always wait for those Grand Pas pique arabesque lifts to be timed like Gelsey & Baryshnikov, but never seen yet, so that perfection I guess will just live in my mind.

APOLLO--it's either too spiky, too slow, too wobbly, too technical, too...? Love the ballet, but so far hasn't matched mind/memory.

ROUND of ANGELS: The ballet has SO much resonance with me, it's hard to just watch. AND the fact that I haven't seen it live in almost 20years (does anyone besides Joffrey do it?)and it wasn't filmed that great for "Dance in America" AND not released, so have to trek to NYPL to see that so-so version.
Ditto: SINATRA SUITE--too much info, backstage memories etc. affect my viewing, and everyone still needs lots of work to match my mindset.

NUTCRACKER: I can't seem to recapture the investment/excitement I had when dancing it. So, except when required to film it, I've stayed away. So maybe I am still missing something?

Not exactly a production problem, but definately something that has an impact on the enjoyment of a production:
Partnerships--So many times I've seen a gorgeous, technically perfect, artistically expressive dance® that became that koan of "one hand clapping" because the partnership didn't work. THAT is depressing, and will always remain better in my mind, since great partnerships seem 'few and far between' these days. And if the partnership/dancing isn't interesting, no amount of staging/production will cure it.

#27 bart

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 01:10 PM

4mrdncr, it must be very strange to see peformances of ballets (like Nutcracker) that you have strong memories of dancing in. I'd love to hear more about that.

I have the opposite take on Apollo. It's one of those masterpieces -- like Hamlet (the play) -- that I actually love to see in in a wide variety of approaches. Within reason, of course, and always assuming a high level of musicality and technique I suppose that's because I've never seen -- or imagined -- one ideal Apollo or set of muses.

Same -- though to a lesser extent -- with Giselle, where I DO have an ideal image in my head, but usually quite happy to suspend disbelief and enjoy different approaches to Act I especially.

#28 Hans

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 03:11 PM

Spectre de la Rose. Plenty of good spectres out there, but I'm still waiting for a female lead who will make the audience say, as they did about the original cast, "Well, Nijinsky was good, but Karsavina!"

#29 papeetepatrick

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 03:56 PM

'Fountain of Bachshisaray' is incredibly boring even though short. I was only watching it for Sizova, and could only think of her in the film of 'Sleeping Beauty'. Still beautiful, but there was a lot of pallor-look in her face in this video. As Mel had said, it 'doesn't travel well', which is perhaps the most polite thing I've ever heard, even if he likes it somewhat more than I do. I don't even remember any sense of 'fountain' in it, even Respighi manages to pull that off.

I can't stand 'Mayerling', and never want to see it again, no matter who is in it. I actually would have liked to 'imagine' it, though, if I hadn't seen it, which even took that little pleasure away (I'm still getting over what was done to the 'Mephisto Waltz') but I definitely like to imagine all the wonderful performances people have talked about to Philip Glass scores, because 'it only takes a moment' and then it's all over with. Unfortunately, I did see Robbins's 'Glass Pieces' with all those 'wage slaves' trudging across the stage, dehumanized and deeply, if temporarily empathized with and pitied by the parterre box holders...

I don't care much for 'Raymonda', although I'd go see a great production if anyone thinks to warn me. Glazunov can be lovely, but a little bit goes a long way. I wonder if there are small works with just a few Glazunov waltzes, 5-9, which would be very nice, I think. There's one, I think in D Major, which is just ravishing when you hear its opening notes.

Several have explained that the truncated version of 'Apollo' is inferior, but I'm not experienced enough to dislike this version, which I have seen several times with Nikolaj Hubbe in the last few years, and never gotten tired of it.

I have the opposite take on Apollo. It's one of those masterpieces -- like Hamlet (the play) -- that I actually love to see in in a wide variety of approaches. Within reason, of course, and always assuming a high level of musicality and technique I suppose that's because I've never seen -- or imagined -- one ideal Apollo or set of muses.


I also feel this way, and that is wonderfully said.

#30 Klavier

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 05:14 PM

I have seen The Rite of Spring danced just twice - once by the Béjart troupe, maybe 25 years ago (?) on a double bill with Petrouchka, a performance completely blotted from my mind except I remember hating it; and once as part of the triple Stravinsky bill at the Met a few years ago, which I also hated. Petrouchka, on the other hand, at least as interpreted by the wonderful Sascha Radetsky at ABT last season, seemed to me an ideally stageworthy ballet. But like its creator, I much prefer Le Sacre as a concert piece.


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