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Who are the "master" choreographers of today?

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I agree with Scherzo’s comments on David Bintley. As well as his choreography, which I find interesting and satisfying, it is his attention to detail within his characterisations. That is not to say that he is prescriptive about how his dancers should act, but he gives them the base from which they can develop.

Within Hobson’s Choice (premiered in 1989), apart from the seven leading roles, every dancer has a character. Hobson’s friends are wonderful cameo roles, full of characterisation. This work was last seen as part of the BRB Autumn tour in 2005 and to me it was as fresh as the first time I saw it in 1989.

Far from the Madding Crowd premiered in 1996. I’ve got to admit that I didn’t think of it as an automatic classic first time round, but it has been gradually refined over the years and last time around (about 3 years ago) it was absolutely enthralling. Again, it is the characterisation that develops for all the dancers on stage, no matter how big or small their role.

For his narrative works, David Bintley has used commissioned scores and because of this he seems to get exactly the music he needs to enhance the story-telling. I appreciate that, in terms of ballet going, most people do not see more than one performance of the same work in one run, but what we found with Cyrano was that where the theme for Cyrano and Roxanne is used to comic effect in Act 1, it is expanded on and used again for the final part of Act 3, so that on repeated viewings we have been anticipating the tragedy and starting to cry in Act 1! Also in Cyrano, there is the perfect illustration of how David Bintley can imbue the simplest movement with emotion, when Cyrano reaches out and touches Christian’s nose.

Edward II also stands out for me as a narrative work. Obviously it is very martial and although some of the steps for the Barons may seem to be over-repeated, it works well because of the context. There is an outstanding pas de trois for Edward, Isabelle and Gaveston.

I love Beauty and the Beast, but I’m not sure if it will stand the test of time in the same way that the works mentioned above will. I was not so keen on Arthur parts 1 and 2 – I really disliked the music and costumes for both.

Of his shorter works, Concert Fantasy makes glorious use of the large corps of girls as well as giving virtuoso choreography for the two leading dancers. David Bintley has recently used jazz scores for works such as The Orpheus Suite (coming back next year – yipeeeee), Shakespeare Suite and Nutcracker Sweeties, allowing for an interesting contrast in style to the pure dance of Galantries, Concert Fantasy or The Seasons.

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Dirac's comment about Petit may contain one of the secrets the better story-tellers have.

he holds the stage and has many of the old fashioned show business virtues, things that don't go out of style.
For example, about Bintley's Hobson's Choice:
it has great warmth, a good sense of comedy and a good balance between mime and pure dance which sustains the audience's interest (which, for example, Macmillan did not always achieve). Above all, Bintley takes care creating his characters and each has clear personality, dramatically and choreographically, thanks to his inventive use of steps - so we care about what happens to them.
Or the importance of choosing the music:
For his narrative works, David Bintley has used commissioned scores and because of this he seems to get exactly the music he needs to enhance the story-telling.
Also, from what scherzo and JmcM write, Bintley seems to be inventive in his choice and development of steps. Even when repetitive, as in the dance for the barons in Edward II, there seems to be a narrative purpose that works, and which relates to the music. (I couldn't help comparing this with the limited dance vocabulary of Matthew Bourne, who certainly DOES have the show-business virtues -- or the aimlessness and arbitrariness of the steps, often not really bound to music or story, of Val Caniparoli's otherwise well-told "Lady of the Camellias" or even his more successful "Othello.")

The result of this kind of work seems to include (a) emotional satisfaction (not just admiration at the movement) and (b) lingering and pleasing memories. That is precisely what so much contemporary choreography -- lacking the human dimension; involving endless and seamless movement, so much of it acrobatic -- cannot provide. To me, at least.

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I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Twyla Tharp yet. Her ballet's are becoming extremely universal which is what makes choreographer's works last for decades. Zurich Ballet did Push Comes to Shove a few seasons ago, The Bolshoi did In the Upper Room this season, as well as MCB, ABT, and National Ballet of Canada. In addition, Twyla is choreographing a brand new ballet on Miami City Ballet for next season, with music from Elvis Costello.

I also believe that Trey Mcintyre is a noteworthy candidate for a great choreographer. The Reassuring Effects of Form and Poetry is one of my favorites.

Any thoughts on:

Nacho Duato

Jose Limon

Mark Morris

Rudolph Nureyev

Jerome Robbins

Anthony Tudor

Stanton Welch

:off topic:

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Limon, Nureyev, Robbins, and Tudor are no longer alive, so it's difficult to call them "Master Choreographers of Today" without a certain cynicism about the state of choreography today.

I love Tharp's Waterbaby Bagatelles, the only ballet or modern piece I've ever seen of hers in which she hasn't come across, in my opinion, as a giant brat or an aerobics instructor, although I did enjoy the brattiness in Push Comes to Shove as a vehicle for Baryshnikov when he first came to the US. I seem to remember liking her work in Hair, but Movin' Out is several hours of my life I won't get back, although, on the bright side, it was an opportunity to see Benjamin Bowman dance in Act I. I love Morris' Sylvia and found Maelstrom (to Beethoven's "Ghost" Trio) quite moving. I don't think either is a master choreographer of ballet on the basis of these works, though, but I would call Mark Morris a modern master if he had choreographed nothing but Dido and Aeneas and L'Allegro.

I might actually toy with feeling guilty about liking Duato's Jardi Tancat if it weren't a great opportunity to hear Maria del Mar Bonet's songs through a great sound system; however, neoclassical ballet, it's not. As a modern/contemporary choreographer over the course of his works, I find his vocabulary limited and his musical response repetitive. Usually Kylian is mentioned in the same breath as Duato, and although I have the same criticism of his work as Duato's, I might not have gotten to know Martinu's Mass (Soldier's Mass), Janacek's Sinfonietta, and Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms if I hadn't seen a week of his company's performances in NYC in the early 80's.

If I've seen Welch, I haven't seen anything memorable, let alone masterful, yet. I've never seen McIntyre's work.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk, HollyFusco. And thanks for that interesting post. I hope you'll introduce yourself on our "Welcome" forum and become an on-going part of the discussions here. :smilie_mondieu:

I also believe that Trey Mcintyre is a noteworthy candidate for a great choreographer. The Reassuring Effects of Form and Poetry is one of my favorites.

I enjoyed Second Before the Ground even better than REofF&P. Mcintyre undesrtands the human body, has an obviously personal vision, and has chosen to work in a serious aesthetic tradition, not pandering to pop culture. His new ballet for Ballet Florida, Pluck, seemed to be moving in new directions, and it struck me as very promising. It's more neoclassical and balletic than the other 2 works, and it's done on point. There are hints of Robbins, especially in the way that couples come and go, and groups form and re-form, almost like changing patterns of mist.. I would definitely like to see this again -- and try to fix it more in my visual memory.

I love Tharp's Waterbaby Bagatelles, the only ballet or modern piece I've ever seen of hers in which she hasn't come across, in my opinion, as a giant brat or an aerobics instructor [ ... ]
:off topic: On the other hand, have you seen In the Upper Room? It's enormously inventive, non-stop, and compelling, and it's less repetitive than some of her work -- and quite gruelling for the audience as well as the dancers. I also enjoy what I think of as Tharp-Lite: Sinatra Songs for instance.

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I forgot about the Sinatra I saw with PNB last year. It was fun. I'll see In the Upper Room for the first time this weekend.

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I forgot about the Sinatra I saw with PNB last year. It was fun. I'll see In the Upper Room for the first time this weekend.
It's funny the way the same handfull of ballets seem to make the rounds among the major companies.

Re Upper Room: I saw this 3 times in 3 days, and can still visualize some of the dancing. The first time was a kind of "blur." By performance 3, I could see things in detail -- almost as though it were in slow motion, though of course it wasn't. It was still thrilling, but the choreography seemed a lot simpler, in a way, than it appeared at first. Though the speed and non-stop quality makes it very difficult for the dancers, I am sure.

I'll be very interested in hearing what you think of it, Helene.

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:wink: I got my Tharps mixed up: Ballet Arizona performed "Golden Section" from The Catherine Wheel, not In the Upper Room.

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:dunno: I got my Tharps mixed up: Ballet Arizona performed "Golden Section" from The Catherine Wheel, not In the Upper Room.

You'll just have to wait until next year when PNB gets Upper Room.

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Another production of something just a year old. These things really do get released in bursts, like pollen from a flower. Puff, puff.

I understand the economics. But it's sad that so many other items in choreographers' repertoires remain buried and un-revisited, perpetually "out of print." By relying so much on the audience's memory, ballet -- and dance generally -- remains a fragile and transitory art than it needs to be. :dunno:

A new approach to videography -- accesible to the public -- might help. This doesn't have to be glossy and expensive, and it doesn't have to be aimed at the largest possible audience. Just keeping the images in circulation and accessible would be a great gift for people like Helene and all the rest of us, whose memories somtimes suffer lapses.

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I think that we're in a period of journeyman/woman choreographers. Lots and lots of well-crafted things, and some inevitable trash, but ABM. All But the Masterpiece.

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I've resuscitated this thread to mention a comment from Wheeldon in a recent DanceTabs interview...

Q: The real question is how to move forward in the future. In twenty years, what are all the young dancers going to be bringing to you in the studio?

A: There does seem to be a swing back toward classical ballet choreography. I’m seeing that more and more, not only in the appreciation of the public, but also in the young choreographers who are starting to be pushed forward now, are all classical choreographers. There was a time when the voice of Forsythe and the voice of Kylian was so strong and had such a strong influence on young choreographers that everyone was following them and now it seems that the younger generation of choreographers coming out of ballet companies are going back toward making ballet, which is exciting. Liam Scarlett in London, who I think is coming here (San Francisco) next year, and Justin Peck in New York and Alexei [Ratmansky] are all doing classical choreography. I was feeling like I was the “last of the Mohicans” because I was alone. Although I was very influenced and still am influenced by Balanchine, and Forsythe and Kylian, because they were what was happening, I still feel I want to push for ballet. It seems like we’re a team all pushing the same way, which is encouraging.

Christopher Wheeldon – Choreographer

By Aimee Tsao on May 1, 2013 in Interviews

http://dancetabs.com/2013/05/christopher-wheeldon-choreographer/

It may be unintentional, but he lumps Balanchine in with Forsythe and Kylian, and makes it sound as if that is the non-ballet camp.

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Christopher Wheeldon - Becoming a Choreographer

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-sigh- It would have been so neat to see that video - but "the uploader has not made this video available in your country."

Oh, well.

Thanks, pherank, for writing down some of the things Wheeldon has said. :)

-d-

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-sigh- It would have been so neat to see that video - but "the uploader has not made this video available in your country."

Oh, well.

Thanks, pherank, for writing down some of the things Wheeldon has said. smile.png

-d-

Hi Diane, I went searching, and I may have a fix for you here -

(look for the link near the video that reads, "Are you located outside the U.S.? Click here to watch video.")

http://dancepulp.com...-choreographer/

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