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Balanchine's The Nutcracker videovery silly question!


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#16 Dale

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Posted 16 December 2004 - 08:28 AM

The ballerina's "float" (on the moving plate) was instituted considerably later on; the original climax was Tallchief in a sustained unsupported balance in arabesque, I think. seems to me the moving "float" first appeared in the early Seventies?

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Wasn't it in the 60s? I think Farrell mentions in her bio that Balanchine used her to work out the idea.

#17 oberon

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Posted 16 December 2004 - 02:40 PM

There are two possible balance moments for the SPF in the adagio...one after her "ride" on the metal plate, which is usually not sustained, and the big one at the very end when the cavalier has brought her down to the front...she does these supported quarter turns, she and the cavalier changing supporting hands after each, then he brings her around to the final arabesque in profile. He slowly goes down on one knee and then she lets go and (hopefully) holds her pose. Jenifer Ringer adds a nice touch here, she seems to elongate the arabesque as he lets go. God knows how she does it. The balance inevitably creates a wave of applause which obliterates the remaining bars of music.

I believe there was a link posted here earlier where Kowroski & Askegard talked about the difficulties of this pas de deux...there are the wrist catches, the shoulder sits, the backbends, the "glide", the slow turn to the final arabesque and the final fish-dive pose where her cheek is inches from the floor. Since it's done 40 or more times a season, I think we take for granted that it's a walk in the park for the dancers but I think it's really alot of work. Then there is Dewdrop, which calls for the full array of turns, jumps, balances, etc. and Marzipan which some people think is tougher than the other two female roles.

#18 dancelyssa

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Posted 16 December 2004 - 06:18 PM

Um, Just to tell you, The Nutcracker Prince runs up and holds out the crown, then whisks just a frontal piece of the Nut costume off and throws it onto the floor, where it is whisked off by the stage manager.
Yes, if the SPF is like a centimeter off, she can fall off the plate to slide!!
During Nut, Marie's bed is spun by a bedboy on the stage it doesnt fly (and yes, the bedboy is usually the old Prince as there's no other part for him) and the montage in the movie is just Marie creeping to find her Nutcracker, falling asleep in the living room, and her mother covering her with a shawl. The clock does not actually howl.

On a side note: Ever wondered what it is like to accidentally trip Mother Ginger? The 8 of us accidentally pushed too far back on the skirt and made Bill Otto wobble(he was Mother Ginger in the movie) and it was like his first wobble in 30 years!

#19 Mel Johnson

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Posted 16 December 2004 - 06:33 PM

After Tallchief, the "big" music was simply a line of bourrées from UR to DL. "So much for Balanchine's great sense of music" thought I at the time.

#20 Farrell Fan

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Posted 16 December 2004 - 06:36 PM

Dale is correct, as usual, that it was Farrell, in the 1960s, who first stepped onto the metal slide in the Nutcracker. "The effect was magical, and to this day audiences are thrilled and baffled by the seemingly impossible feat," she wrote. "Mr. B was equally thrilled with his optical illusion, and I was thrilled to be his guinea pig."

Another Farrell first, this without mechanical intervention: at Mr. B's request, she touched her head to her knee in the adagio of Symphony in C.

#21 tempusfugit

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Posted 16 December 2004 - 09:53 PM

Oberon, re Marzipan, Pat Wilde says that she was the original Shepherdess (or whatever one wishes to call Ms. Lead Marzipan) and that her choreography had entrechats-six from pointe to pointe, jetes on pointe, tour en l'air landing on pointe.... and then she became ill, couldn't do the premiere, and the version we now have is completely different. and we thought THIS variation was hard!

#22 Old Fashioned

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Posted 19 December 2004 - 02:27 PM

her choreography had entrechats-six from pointe to pointe, jetes on pointe, tour en l'air landing on pointe....

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:blink: I would give anything to see that.

#23 Mel Johnson

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Posted 19 December 2004 - 04:12 PM

Pat could do all that stuff and more. That's why nobody has quite been able to replace her in "Square Dance". Others have succeeded her, but her robustness has never been matched, and the whole ballet is different for it.

#24 tempusfugit

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Posted 19 December 2004 - 04:37 PM

Pat could do all that stuff and more.  That's why nobody has quite been able to replace her in "Square Dance".  Others have succeeded her, but her robustness has never been matched, and the whole ballet is different for it.

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EXACTLY! The kinescope of her in Square Dance is breathtaking. Robustness, precision, joy, and overwhelming virtuosity at once....

#25 dewdrop

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Posted 24 December 2004 - 04:26 PM

'Am I correct in assuming they don't do a video montage of Marie's "memories" of the party scene?' –Ballet Nut

On memories, I thought this passage might be of interest to some readers.

“Ballet time is a continuous present: every experience which depends on historical time lies outside its capacities. It cannot express memory: the recollection of that which is absent for either the recollection body is on stage and immediate or it is off and non-existent. Memory distinguishes between the object and its invoked image: ballet deals only in the object." -- W.H. Auden from BALLET’S PRESENT EDEN



Regarding Leigh W.'s response/description above:
I hope they have the couch on some sort of Magic Sliders to protect the floor from being scratched.

#26 charlieloki

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Posted 27 December 2004 - 07:21 AM

Pat could do all that stuff and more.  That's why nobody has quite been able to replace her in "Square Dance".  Others have succeeded her, but her robustness has never been matched, and the whole ballet is different for it.

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EXACTLY! The kinescope of her in Square Dance is breathtaking. Robustness, precision, joy, and overwhelming virtuosity at once....

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i saw that film last year on a fairly large screen at the museum of television and radio's weeks-long salute to balanchine

it is the original version of the piece, with the caller on stage and the scenery, etc.

ms. wilde's performance is beyond belief

it can probably be seen on a video monitor at the museum, which is on east 52nd street in manhattan

sheri leblanc (who is now with san francisco), in an sab workshop perfomance, was absolutely stupendous -- but she never performed square dance as a company member

when the music ended, she looked as if she could do it all over again, and then some

what she could have done with ms. wilde's coaching --

#27 Paul Parish

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Posted 07 January 2005 - 08:01 PM

Charieloki,

Thanks for that report on Sherri LeBlanc in Square Dance. We've really loved her in SF. She has JUST retired from SFB -- a wonderful dancer, she had a fantastic range. My favorite thing I ever saw her do was Liebeslieder Walzer (in hte role I think is associated with McBride), where she was young, ardent, incisive, intensely romantic in a way that took my breath away. It was great artistry. Her last wonderful role here was as an Amazon in Mark Morris's Sylvia( he used her a great deal over the years, in all sorts of works, and she could dance with weight and majesty as well as brilliant lightness). She was fantastic in Sylvia. and had a quality in the upper body that I can only call flowing, like you see in the Valentine Hugo drawings of Isadora Duncan. It was to the big waltz in hte first act when he Amazons let down their hair and relax in hte glade -- the quality was completely appropriate to a warm summer afternoon's dancing (even Amazons have their lyric moments), and she epitomized the paradoxical luxe et volupte of that dance.

She danced memorably the Russian girl in Serenade -- incredibly musical. I saw her sister that day in the lobby holding her baby girl -- "I brought her to see her mom dance."

Her sister of course is Tina leBlanc, who is by the way out of this world dynamite in Square Dance, which she did here last year and made it look completely effortless, like a kid on a skate-board tossing off miracles like they were nothing.... In the finale, when she stepped onto pointe over and over with unbelievable speed and rapidity and absolute evenness of attack, like a pianist doing the jeux perlee, I was nearly out of my mind with delight -- it was true allegro, it made you so happy you were beyond laughter.

#28 Anthony_NYC

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Posted 08 January 2005 - 04:35 AM

A belated addition to this thread. I was recently re-reading Wiley's book about Tchaikovsky's ballets, and was fascinated to come across this this description of the original choreography for the grand pas:

"In the last part, a mechanical device is introduced which is referred to ... as a reika. This seems to have been a track or guide along which a small platform travels; placed on the platform, a dancer can be drawn along the reika to give the illusion of gliding across the stage. After breaking the last post of the preceding section, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her prince move to the reika at the rear of the stage. Then they traverse the stage on the reika from the audience's left to its right. This part of the dance is probably that depicted in the celebrated picture of Gerdt as Prince Coqueluche drawing Varvara Nikitina as the Sugar Plum Fairy on the surface of a shawl or cloth, as if by magic"

This would make it seem that the trick was another of Balanchine's homages to the choreography he remembered from his childhood. Has anybody seen the "celebrated picture" Wiley refers to? What pose is Nikitina in?

I brought this up before, but I would also still love to know about the history of the two versions of the Sugar Plum solo--which came first, who they were made for, etc.

#29 Mel Johnson

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Posted 08 January 2005 - 05:13 AM

I've seen the picture, and Gerdt is to the viewer's left and Nikitina to the right, but I don't recall what position she's in. Nothing more dramatic than a sous-sus, though maybe a "B+" done effacé. No big arabesque, that's for sure.

As to the two SPF variations, wouldn't we all like to know? Actually the one that was done for years and years was by Loupokhov, around 1912, and it doesn't look much like either of what's notated.

#30 rg

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Posted 08 January 2005 - 08:07 AM

i'll try to post the picture mentioned among the BALLET HISTORY topics.


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