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Recent Ballet Faux Pas

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#1 mussel


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Posted 03 August 2004 - 10:00 AM

Have you seen any ballet faux pas lately? Like misprinted dollar bills or stamps, they are rare and some of them are priceless. Every time I think of them, they give me a smile on my face. Slips & falls don’t count. Here’re some of my recent encounters.

ABT at the Met, 2 or 3 years ago, Swan Lake. At end of Act IV, Jose Carreno jumped off the cliff with so much force, I had a glimpse of him bouncing back from the bottom of the cliff (or was it a mattress, air bag, trampoline?). :)

Maryinski Ballet at the Met, summer of 2002, Don Q. The donkey that Don Q rode on decided to conduct its own business on stage, one of the corp members scooped up the debris with a broom, while still in character.

Royal Ballet at the Met (Met again!!??), July of this year, Cinderella. One of the “hour” girls made an untimely (about 2-3 minutes early) entrance :innocent: from the wing, she was about good 10 feet into the stage before she realized she’s the only “hour” girl on stage and had to hurry back to the wing.

#2 Giannina


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Posted 03 August 2004 - 10:35 AM

It's going to be tough to beat the Jose Carreno story. That made my day!


#3 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 10:46 AM

i hope i haven't told this one before, but i saw a performance of etudes at abt where the ballerina fell on her back and her partner then tripped and fell face down on top of her... :innocent:

#4 fandeballet


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Posted 03 August 2004 - 11:12 AM

I remember Kevin McKenzie falling flat on his rump during the final moments of the Black Swan PDD, and Martine Van Hamel at the very end of the PDD, with Odette triumphantly standing with her hand in Siegfried's, while he is kneeling at her feet, and her head is bent backward, and she is just not grinning, but laughing. I still laugh about it 20 years later!!!!!!!!!

Sorry it was not a recent event :innocent:

Edited by fandeballet, 03 August 2004 - 11:15 AM.

#5 Ari


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Posted 03 August 2004 - 12:10 PM

Maryinski Ballet at the Met, summer of 2002, Don Q.  The donkey that Don Q rode on decided to conduct its own business on stage, one of the corp members scooped up the debris with a broom, while still in character.

This used to happen all the time in Union Jack when it was new. In the performances I've seen in the last decade, however, the donkey has been very well behaved.

I remember a performance of Dances at a Gathering at NYCB when the curtain went up for the bows on what was supposed to be an empty stage. Instead, there was a stagehand, bending over and doing something to the floor, so that his rear end was facing the audience. He must have heard something to alert him to the fact that the curtain was up, because he straightened up, cast a startled glance at the audience, and scuttled off into the wings.

A performance of Tchaik. Piano Concerto #2 in about 1980, second movement. The girls are arranged in two vertical lines on either side of the stage with the danseur in the center. They bouree towards him, with the girl at the head of each line travelling all the way over to the man's side and each subsequent girl boureeing just enough to place her on the previous girl's side. Toni Bentley, at the rear of the stage right line, boureed almost all the way over to the man before realizing her mistake and swanning back. It was a moment straight out of The Concert. (I noticed later that at another point in this movement, the girls do the same thing except that that the first girl out of the line is the one at the rear, so Bentley had confused the two moments.) (carbro will remember this. We were sitting together when it happened.)

#6 Dale


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Posted 03 August 2004 - 12:52 PM

Ari, that part in Piano Concerto must be confusing to the dancers because I saw something similar at ABT this past season. And the donkey is back to misbehaving - this season at NYCB, the donkey let the kids off but then just bolted out and Ringer, Martins and girls were left to improvise their exit.

There was a review in the late 80s by Anita Finkel that mentioned how the curtain came up on Serenade and one of the dancers was adjusting the ribbons on her toe shoes. Does anybody remember that performance? I believe the review said it was Kyra Nichols in the lead.

#7 oberon


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Posted 03 August 2004 - 01:12 PM

Not recent, but there was a televised ABT ROMEO & JULIET back in the 80s where the Romeo (was it Kevin MacKenzie?) came out for the final scene wearing sweat pants over his tights. As Romeo remains onstage throughout this scene, he had no chance to take them off. But they did start slipping down as the scene progressed.

Christopher Wheeldon spoofs this incident in his VARIATIONS SERIEUSES where, in the ballet-within-the-ballet, Damian is about to rush onstage when a fellow dancer points out the fact that he is in sweats. He rips them off and dashes out to dance.

#8 Helene



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Posted 03 August 2004 - 02:08 PM

I've seen a number of performances of Stars and Stripes where at least one of the men in the Men's Regiment has gone onstage wearing at least one leg warmer.

#9 carbro


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Posted 03 August 2004 - 04:00 PM

A performance of Tchaik. Piano Concerto #2 in about 1980, . . .   Toni Bentley, at the rear of the stage right line, boureed almost all the way over to the man before realizing her mistake and swanning back. . . . .(carbro will remember this.  We were sitting together when it happened.)

Sorry, Ari. That memory has been displaced by others, such as Kevin McKenzie's (yes, Oberon, and it was TELEVISED live, no less!) Notorious Sweatpant Incident. Kudos to Makarova for not breaking character. That's my personal biggie.

Gelsey's premature entrance in "Les Rendezvous," which she almost managed to cover by acting and mugging. Also, the end of her one and only Swan Lake, when the vehicle that transports Odette and Siegfried to the Hereafter was out of order.

Gosh, which corps girl was it this past spring at NYCB (I'm pretty sure it was NYCB), in one of those big, Tchaikovsky ballets, who started dancing a phrase or two before she should have?

A Giselle with Marianna Tcherkassky when she stopped the performance because the orchestra was playing the wrong music. (I was not in the house for this.)

Suzanne Farrell in (her one and only??) La Source, wearing a costume very obviously not her own, and by some miracle managing to avoid unseemly exposure.

Judy Fugate's (then in the corps) side seam splitting wide open in Cortege Hongrois.

Cheryl Yeager, in one of her early Kitris, ripping her tights.

:yawn: Only one vague one is recent, and I'm down to the barely-worth-mentionings.

#10 Ari


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Posted 04 August 2004 - 04:11 AM

Some others, not recent though:

During a performance of Chaconne at NYCB, the ribbons of Stacy Caddell's right pointe shoe came unglued and trailed on the stage as she danced. Given the choreography -- she was leading the five "cygnets" -- this led to considerable mirth, although the audience sympathized with her and tried to contain their giggles. They almost lost it, though, when she did some frappes. It was almost like she was saying, "Look at me, I lost my ribbons!" Of course, she got a big hand at the end.

Royal Ballet at the Met, 1981, opening night. In The Sleeping Beauty, Merle Park danced Princess Florine, and came out for a second bow. She had almost reached center stage when she realized . . . no one was applauding. Park, who was by then quite an experienced ballerina, clapped both hands to her mouth in a giant "Yikes!" gesture and ran offstage.

Union Jack, 1977. At the beginning of the opening section, someone's sporran (the pouch worn in front of the kilts) fell to the floor, dead center, and just sat there. The stage was filled with dancers, none of whom had the presence of mind to get rid of it. Finally, during the closing recessional, a girl in Karin von Aroldingen's regiment kicked it upstage repeatedly until it was out of harm's way.

#11 cargill


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Posted 04 August 2004 - 05:13 AM

I wasn't there, but a friend who saw the first PAMTAGG says that one of the men's costumes started ripping at the crotch, and when he returned from a brief exit, it was held together by a very large safety pin. I did see a couple of rips in the same spot during two different Lindsay Fischer performances of the first movement of Western Symphony--it seems like they didn't learn the first time!

#12 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 04 August 2004 - 05:17 AM

i saw baryshnikov's first performance in chicago as a member of abt. he did don q pas with makarova and push comes to shove. the don q was really something and the audience was quite excited, and after he did his variation the applause was deafening. makarova came out for her variation and as the orchestra started the harp introduction she did her usual run to the appropriate place on the stage. however, for some reason the melody started only about half way through, and she was caught unawares half way across the stage. she startled, turned around abruptly, tried valiantly to get to the right place in the music, decided not to, gave the under the chin sign to the orchestra and left the stage. after about a minute, she appeared stage right tapping her foot rather impatiently and took her pose to start again and this time the orchestra played the introduction correctly.

#13 canbelto


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Posted 04 August 2004 - 07:32 AM

I saw a Nutcracker at the NYCB where one of the snowflakes dropped her snowflake. The rest of the snowflakes had to carefully dance around the foam ball on the floor.

#14 Guest_judithjudson_*

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Posted 04 August 2004 - 07:41 AM

Non recent ballet faux pas--the most famous--Fonteyn's entrance in Act II Swan Lake in 1949 in DC at what was most deservedly called Constipation Hall (Constitution Hall) no half way decent stage being available because of Equity refusing to perform in segregated houses. She came out and fell on her rump--house petrified. Obviously she must have been furious, but gave a splendid performance. In the matinee next day Shearer was slithering all over the place as Princess Florine (not a good idea for her anyway, but I heard later that Hurok insisted, since she was well known in US per Red Shoes film) At dinner that evening Franklin White commented that the stage was like glass, and in a column in a British magazine later that year said "enough has been said about the consequences of the condition of the stage."

From the wings once I saw Kirkland bop a corps girl on the head at an exit in Theme and Variations (Baryshnikov's debut in this in DC--fortunately on a better stage). It did not seem to be deliberate, but Gelsey was rather frantic that night.

There is a legend that a set of corps costumes for the first NYC Ballet Nutcracker were all boned to the waist and strapless. Karinska showing up with garments at her famous last minute, they had never tried them on, came out, and at one point all bent over and came up minus bodices. A friend of mine swore he saw it. I would love to know if this can be confirmed.

#15 pugbee



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Posted 04 August 2004 - 10:15 AM

About six years ago in a performance of Pennsylvania Ballet's Nutcracker (Balanchine's choreography), the lead Spanish couple and corps ran on stage to begin the finale, and the conductor missed the cue. The music is supposed to begin while the dancers are in the air. Some musicians began playing, some didn't. It was a disaster. The dancers had to stop, stand still, and wait for the music to begin, then struggle to catch up.

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