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The Leaves are Fading --is this a good ballet?


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#1 bart

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 08:27 AM

Recently I saw a video of Altynai Asylmuratova and Konstantin Zaklensky dancing the adagio from Antony Tudor's "The Leaves are Fading." I think it was shot in London in 1992. I was enthralled by Asylmuratova -- and found myself really enjoying and admiring the dance itself, which I had never seen.

Internet research -- which started with Ballet West's 2004 visit to the Edinburgh Festival -- revealed some very different opinions about this "late Tudor" ballet, from those who liked it to those who found it insipid, droopy, and "NOT up to Lilac Garden." I really liked it (and I'm not ordinarily fond of Tudor).

I gather it's been danced by ABT (created in the 1970s), Kirov, POB, Tulsa, Royal and Deutsche Oper. If you've seen it or've danced in it and have feelings our thoughts --- pros and cons -- or memories of performances, I'd appreciate hearing them. Thanks.

#2 Paul Parish

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 08:35 AM

It's a great ballerina role -- Gelsey Kirkland was fabulous in it. Some of the side stuff IS drippy.

It's a different kind of ballet from Lilac Garden -- there's much more interest in continuity, in flow, long floating phrasing.

#3 Rachel Howard

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 09:06 AM

That section of the ballet can also be seen on the ABT Now video--I think that's what the video is called--danced by Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner.

I like it too, Bart.

#4 Helene

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 09:11 AM

The central pas de deux, created for Kirkland, is performed as a gala excerpt. In a performance captured on tape and released commercially (ABT Now), Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner performed it, and retiring Ballet Arizona ballerina Yen-Li Chen-Zhang performed it at a special, final performance.

#5 bart

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 09:44 AM

Thanks for the answers so far. Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner are cited as having set it for Ballet West. Those who enjoyed the ballet seem to focus on the performance of the female principal in the adagio. How much of this survival of this ballet has to do with it being a vehicle for a certain style of dancer -- and how much to the intrinsic worth of the choreography (and its relation to the music)? That's often a puzzling question in ballet.

#6 carbro

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 10:03 AM

I have seen the pas (on video) danced by Assylmuratova and Zaklinsky, and I applaud their efforts to take on such alien choreography. While the dancing is beautiful, the overall impression is marred by (mostly) Altynai's inability to unite dance and gesture as one thing. The presentational style for which she was trained is in many ways the opposite of Tudor. She seems to understand this intellectually, but at the time of filming was not able to successfully meld the movements.

I have not seen the video of McKerrow and Gardner, but have seen them perform the pas llive several times. It is one of her best pieces, and she has even evoked echoes of Kirkland -- quite high praise. In general, Amanda has not been one of my favorite dancers, but my assumption (again, sight unseen) is that her videoed rendition is much more authentic than Altynai's. Of course, she has the advantage of working in Tudor's own company.

#7 klingsor

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 01:51 PM

If done well, it's a beutiful ballet.

The music has the aroma of fall and the ballet evokes the twilight of youth.

#8 Joseph

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Posted 09 July 2005 - 11:54 PM

I know Dvorak wrote the music, but what exactly is it from? I heard something like "Cypresses" or something like that... Is the music commerically available?

#9 cargill

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 05:38 AM

Bart, there is an interesting, (to me anyway, since I did the interview!) with Amanda McKerrow in Ballet Review (summer 2004) where she talks in some detail about what Tudor meant by the various pas de deux in Leaves are Fading, and how the "walking woman" was created.

#10 bart

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 11:22 AM

cargill, thanks for the reference! Now Amanda McKerrow -- there's a wonderfully expressive dancer I'd love to have seen in this role.

#11 Helene

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 12:19 PM

I know Dvorak wrote the music, but what exactly is it from? I heard something like "Cypresses" or something like that... Is the music commerically available?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

According to Balanchine's Complete Stories of the Great Ballets, the music for The Leaves Are Fading comes from three pieces: "Cypresses," "String Quartet, Op. 80, and "String Quartet" Op. 77. It doesn't list which segments.

When I did an amazon.com search on these pieces, The Op. 80 quartet and "Cypresses" were easy to find individually, but there are several references to a String Quintet that had been known Op.77 and another String Quintet that is now known as Op.77. There were no "Op.77" pieces in any of the complete string quartet recordings.

I don't know of any recording of the ballet's cuts only. Perhaps one of our music experts knows of a recording?

#12 dirac

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 04:49 PM

This is from memory, but Arlene Croce says in “Afterimages” something to the effect that the passages for the ballet’s principals -- Jonas Kage partnered Kirkland, if I recollect rightly -- are the sections that would be remembered from “The Leaves Are Fading” and “it has been a quarter century since Tudor composed like this,” etc. So part of the ballet’s effect seems to have been the revival of Tudor’s powers at near full strength (and for Kirkland, the golden girl of the time) after a long period of work that, however interesting, was not quite up to his standard.

I’ve only seen the pas de deux in the video performances mentioned above, and although I didn’t really think it was an ideal gala piece, I thought it was beautiful and was glad to have seen it.

#13 bcash

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 06:14 PM

I have seen the pas (on video) danced by Assylmuratova and Zaklinsky, and I applaud their efforts to take on such alien choreography. While the dancing is beautiful, the overall impression is marred by (mostly) Altynai's inability to unite dance and gesture as one thing. The presentational style for which she was trained is in many ways the opposite of Tudor. She seems to understand this intellectually, but at the time of filming was not able to successfully meld the movements.

I have not seen the video of McKerrow and Gardner, but have seen them perform the pas llive several times. It is one of her best pieces, and she has even evoked echoes of Kirkland -- quite high praise. In general, Amanda has not been one of my favorite dancers, but my assumption (again, sight unseen) is that her videoed rendition is much more authentic than Altynai's. Of course, she has the advantage of working in Tudor's own company.


Completely agree with your assessment. I watched the Mckerrow Gardner video first and Assylmuratova video later. I always thought the Russian's version was a bit "off".


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