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Who are the "master" choreographers of today?


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#16 dirac

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 02:02 PM

Even though I don't really like his work that much,
I think some of Roland Petit's works will survive.


I agree. Say what you will, he's a man of the theatre - he holds the stage and has many of the old fashioned show business virtues, things that don't go out of style.

I confess that I just love 'Le jeune homme et la mort.'

#17 canbelto

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 03:04 PM

No mention of Jerome Robbins?

#18 artist

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 03:08 PM

and Peter Martins?

#19 carbro

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 03:55 PM

No mention of Jerome Robbins?

Good catch! But I think much (but not all) of Robbins' work seems topical, or likely to look dated.

and Peter Martins?

Any ballet/s in particular? His best work to date, IMO, has been "after" -- i.e., Petipa's Sleeping Beauty -- but not the original interpolations and changes. :) I can't think of a single Martins ballet that I would cross the street to see, even if Bouder were in it, but maybe that's just me.

#20 richard53dog

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 04:44 PM

and Peter Martins?

Any ballet/s in particular? His best work to date, IMO, has been "after" -- i.e., Petipa's Sleeping Beauty -- but not the original interpolations and changes. :dunno: I can't think of a single Martins ballet that I would cross the street to see, even if Bouder were in it, but maybe that's just me.



I can't see Martins' work in any way being "for the ages". Kleenex choreography. :)

#21 nysusan

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 05:53 AM

I'm surprised that nobody here thinks of Ashton as a master choreographer. I do. I haven't seen the bulk of his work but I consider a lot of what I have seen to be on a par with the great masters of our time. His choreography speaks with it's own voice and distictive style, a blend of lyrisicm, humanism and gentle humor. Of what I've seen I think that works like his Fille, Monotones and Symphonic Variations will live on, and I would hope that his Sylvia will, too. I'm not a fan of Enigma Variations but I know some people would add that to the list.

As to current choreographers - I think Wheeldon is on his way, but not quite there yet. In the world of modern dance Paul Taylor is at that level but in ballet no one else comes to mind.

#22 Helene

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 08:17 AM

The original question of the thread is "Who are the "master" choreographers of today?" That is why no one mentioned Robbins, until later in the thread, or Ashton. I'm afraid for this one, both are "off-topic."

#23 JMcN

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 08:27 AM

I would nominate David Bintley who has done some wonderful story ballets - the latest being the fabulous Cyrano. Edward II, Hobson's Choice and Far from the Madding Crowd are also wonderful. He has also done some amazing short works such as Galantries, Still Life at the Penguin Cafe, The Seasons, Concert Fantasy, Sons of Horus, Dance House, Tombeaux, Orpheus Suite to name but a few. In my opinion these will all stand the test of time.

David Nixon of NBT concentrates on full length narrative ballets and I particularly admire Madame Butterfly, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Three Musketeers to name but three.

#24 bart

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 03:22 PM

I would nominate David Bintley who has done some wonderful story ballets - the latest being the fabulous Cyrano. Edward II, Hobson's Choice and Far from the Madding Crowd are also wonderful. He has also done some amazing short works such as Galantries, Still Life at the Penguin Cafe, The Seasons, Concert Fantasy, Sons of Horus, Dance House, Tombeaux, Orpheus Suite to name but a few. In my opinion these will all stand the test of time.

I've only seen fragments of some of Bintley's ballets on video. I have been intrigued by reviews of Edward II and Cyrano. I've read good reviews and less than good reviews, including Zoe Anderson's less than positive review of the recent Cyrano. Anderson suggests that, although Bintley uses many interesting steps, his work is dramatically "monotone." (I believe that was her word.)

Recent NYC reviews of Bourne's Edward Scissorhands (apparently quite a different kind of dance theater) makes it clear that there is a thirst for good story ballets with, perhaps, an emphasis on the ability to tell good stories and tellt hem well. Most of what I have read says that Bintley is near the top of this league.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, JMcN, about what Bintley brings to the story-telling format that makes you fond of his work. Also -- which works you think are special candidates for survival into the future? (I enjoyed your own brief and very positive review of Cyrano recently.)

#25 scherzo

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 12:22 PM

I know I'm not technically JMcN :) but I'd like to quickly add my thoughts on Bintley if I may. Of his story ballets I have seen Hobson's Choice. I suppose it is not an 'ambitious' ballet (which is one of the criticisms of his work) but that is part of its appeal: 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.

#26 JMcN

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 02:57 AM

I agree with Scherzoís 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 Hobsonís Choice (premiered in 1989), apart from the seven leading roles, every dancer has a character. Hobsonís 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. Iíve got to admit that I didnít 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 Christianís 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 Iím 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 Ė 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 Ė yipeeeee), Shakespeare Suite and Nutcracker Sweeties, allowing for an interesting contrast in style to the pure dance of Galantries, Concert Fantasy or The Seasons.

#27 bart

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 05:15 AM

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.

#28 HollyFusco

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 06:53 PM

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:

#29 Helene

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 07:27 PM

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.

#30 bart

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 05:19 AM

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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