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Swan Lake by NYCB vs. ABTWhat is the difference? Should I see NYC


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#31 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 01:53 PM

Oh yes, both Meunier and Schandorff were memorable in the role. I thought Meunier was the most moving of the NYCB women in the part. It was a larger-than-life take on the role as if Sarah Bernhardt or La Duse took the role. She took the audience into the tragedy with her.

Slightly OT, does anyone know specifically what the music is for the "reconciliation" in Act IV that both Martins and McKenzie use? It's a sort of slow, mounting wail that's wrenching to listen to. It's not in all productions; Dowell's Swan Lake uses a more decorous piece of music for the same event.

#32 Hans

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 03:30 PM

NYCB's corps de ballet is better trained? You may wish to re-read the bios of ABT's dancers... :D From a teacher's perspective, I consider them equally well-trained.

Of course, what I'd really like to say is ditch them both and see the Kirov--now, that is a corps de ballet! :D

#33 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 06:05 PM

What I know about Petipa you could write on a 3x5 card with a big fat crayon and still have room left over, so I canít really speak to the degree to which Martinsí or McKenzieís versions pervert / improve on the original choreography. Iím a complete and utter philistine where story ballets are concerned and Swan Lake is not a particular favorite in any event; for one thing it takes forever to get going. All those peasants and courtiers and servants with fruit baskets and trays and whatnot Ė canít we just have the pas de trois, give Siegfried something to do that suggests that while he likes to party hearty heís nonetheless yearning, yearning for something transcendent, have mom march out and give him a piece of her mind and the crossbow, and then get on with the white act already? (I know, I know thereís all that wonderful music to use up Ö) Mime? Feh. You need five gestures: Everybody Dance (optional variant: Everybody Down a Goblet of This Here Fine Vintage), Get Married, I Promise, Pathetic Fool Youíve Been Had, and Please Forgive Me I Was So Totally a Jerk. I suppose Back Off or Iíll Cast a Spell would be useful, too, but furious cape waving probably makes the same point. Odette doesnít need a backstory. Sheís a stereotypical Romantic enchanted maiden by the stereotypical Romantic lake in the woods in the moonlight, von Rothbart is the stereotypical Romantic evil sorcerer who put her there, and only the true love of a stereotypical Romantic poet figure yearning, yearning for something transcendent can save her. What more does one need to know? I like the Waltzing Princesses just fine (they are dramatically necessary), but frankly would not consider my life materially altered for the worse if I were deprived of Happy People From Many Lands Exhibiting Their National Dances in Character Shoes while we wait for Odile to barge in. Itís all the same to me whether Odette dies alone, or with Siegfried, or if they sail off into eternity in a Magic Boat so long as there is sufficient white act folderol beforehand because itís that magical world and what happens there that really matters in the end. I would prefer that the Swan Maidens not wear those awful feathered earmuffs, however, though I gather they are de rigeur. A tradition that makes 20 year olds look fifty is a tradition we can safely abandon. So, as you can see, I am a very unreliable judge of ballets of this type since I have next to no patience with many of the conventions. I think the Balanchine distillation is a fine solution to any number of problems. If I were writing the checks for a new full length Swan Lake Iíd probably ask for Midsummer Nightís Dream, just with a different story and Tchaikovsky.

So OK, with that rant as context, I think the NYCB production is just about the ugliest thing I have seen on the State Theater stage, and thatís saying a lot. The costumes look cheap and garish. The sets for the court scenes manage to reduce the stage to a tiny, airless space. I like the white act backdrops, but for a different ballet Ė they donít provide any context at all for this one. (Who are these creatures? Why, they are the enchanted Jackson Pollock Maidens doomed forever to haunt MoMA after hours unless the hero keeps his vow never to be beguiled by the charms of representational painting again!) I thought Martinsí Sleeping Beauty was pretty canny: it kept the traditional look (especially the tradition of looking expensive) but jettisoned some of the traditional apparatus that is frankly less than compelling theatre (I suspect I'm going to be flamed for that ...) without undermining the ballet's emotional and dramatic content. I think his Swan Lake fails because the look has been (very superficially) updated, but the basic apparatus really hasnít been -- just truncated -- and the whole just doesnít come together as coherent theatre. It certainly does nothing to teach one about the genre and its formal materials. And itís ugly Ė did I mention that? I'd buy tickets for After the Rain instead ...

#34 Mel Johnson

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 07:14 PM

To me, the question comes down to: Would you rather have a headache or an upset stomach? Neither version is...oh, there's a word, what is it, what is it? Ah, that's it, "good".

#35 nysusan

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 05:46 AM

If you tend to like NYCB better, you may prefer NYCB.  If you prefer ABT, you'll probably prefer ABT's version. It depends on what you loathe most, but it's like discussing whether you like drowning or burning more.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



To me, the question comes down to:  Would you rather have a headache or an upset stomach?  Neither version is...oh, there's a word, what is it, what is it?  Ah, that's it, "good".

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I think Mr. Witchel and Mr. Johnson have both summed it up nicely for us!

Susan

#36 allegromezzo18

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Posted 09 December 2005 - 04:29 AM

For the moment, for ABT's SL and the story line.
How is Martins' (NYCB) choreography as a modern ballet? Does it flow?
Is it creative? Are there jumps for Bouder? What about the corps?
Are there lots of dances for the corps de ballet? Is it creative? Does it
flow with the music?
Thanks for your thoughts.

#37 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 09 December 2005 - 06:04 AM

At this point, it's probably time for you to borrow the video or buy a ticket, see it for yourself and then tell us those answers.

#38 allegromezzo18

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Posted 09 December 2005 - 04:45 PM

Is there a video of Martins' NYCB version of Swan Lake, or of Mr. B's version?

#39 carbro

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Posted 09 December 2005 - 04:51 PM

The Martins was broadcast in a Live From Lincoln Center. Also, I'm sure you'll be able to view it at the Performing Arts branch of the New York Public Library.

#40 oberon

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Posted 09 December 2005 - 06:41 PM

The first time I saw NYCB's full-length SWAN LAKE, I thought it was about the ugliest thing I ever laid eyes on. The costumes, especially in the opening scene, were of hideous colours and very unbecoming; the sets - drizzled paint for the lakeside scenes and dreary brown wood paneling for the court - were an eyesore.
Kyra Nichols, dancing what I think was her only performance ever in this production, was extremely moving as Odette and quite sinister as Odile, but I just thought: I never want to see this again.

But of course, I did see it again because Wendy, Miranda, Maria K and Jennie Somogyi are dancers I love and of course I had to see each of them in this huge & complex role. I learned to simply tune out the sets; after repeated viewings the Act I costumes became less jarring. The ballet is strengthened in my opinion by only have one intermission; I like having the Prince go right out on his hunting expedition after the party; and his rushing out of the ballroom scene directly to the lake to find Odette makes sense.

The production is dance, dance, dance. There is no boring old tutor and very little mime. The Jester is not annoying, as he can be in some productions, but lively and ironic with some complex combinations. The choreography for the swans is beautiful and in my opinion beautifully executed, as is the would-be-brides scene. And this production has what I think is the most powerful ending I have seen; there is no redemption and no apotheosis. Rotbart is defeated but Odette remains a swan because Siegfried betrayed his pledge to her. He is left alone and in mortal anguish at the end. Damian's portrayal at this point (on the video) is heart-wrenching.

Obviously it is not a SWAN LAKE for everyone, but I'm planning to see it 2 or 3 times this year, depending on who is dancing. Some may deem it a failure but from a practical point of view it is one of the few things at NYCB in recent years where I have seen a Sold Out sign. It was also one of the very few things I have seen there that received a full-house standing ovation (after a particularly memorable Wendy/Damian evening).

#41 drb

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Posted 09 December 2005 - 08:15 PM

Regarding Oberon's point, "it is one of the few things at NYCB in recent years where I have seen a Sold Out sign," January's performances have higher than average advance ticket sales, according to ticket availability posted on NYCB's site.

Re: Allegromezzo18's question "Are there jumps for Bouder?" I don't think Bouder is to perform this role. The dancers, as suggested in NYCB's current PlayBill, are to be Weese, Whelan, Kowroski, and Somogyi. These are very fine dancers, and they should all be interesting to watch. Not liking does not exclude loving.

Both ABT's and NYCB's versions were very ill-served by their telecasts. Nearly every live performance of each that I have seen has been far better than what TV viewers saw. Of course, that doesn't mean the productions are comparable in quality to prior ABT versions, Mr. Balanchine's version, nor to versions in the current rep of the Mariinsky and Paris Opera, nor to the prior Royal version.

#42 oberon

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Posted 10 December 2005 - 06:01 AM

The televised NYCB SWAN LAKE does include one of my all-time favorite ballet moments. In the Black Swan coda, Miranda Weese (who replaced Darci on short notice) is doing a combination: 3 hops backwards and pulling up into arabesque; 3 more hops and then she attains this unbelievable balance. Every time I watch it I think my tape has jammed and stuck there because she is so still for so long. Then her left hand moves ever so slightly, like the involuntary fluttering of a swan's wing, and she continues. I always rewind and watch this segment 5 or 6 times.

One could assume that the four women who discussed the role in the Playbill will be doing it in the coming series though it isn't unrealistic to think that another one or two ballerinas might get a shot at it. I think if Ansanelli had stayed, she would have been cast this time around, and I would imagine Sylve might be doing it. No reason why Bouder shouldn't be given an opportunity, and I wouldn't mind seeing a Teresa Reichlen/Ask LaCour performance.

#43 drb

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Posted 10 December 2005 - 07:22 AM

I second all three of your nominations, Oberon! Tess has all the makings of a great O/O. Unlike ABT, where no dancers of the Bouder/Reichlen age group are even on next season's casting list, NYCB gives young dancers plenty of opportunities. AND THEY SELL TICKETS! Of course NYCB is loaded with exceptional young ballerinas.

#44 Anthony_NYC

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Posted 11 December 2005 - 09:28 PM

I'm really enjoying the funny comments about the conundrum of trying to choose between NYCB's and ABT's Swan Lacks. Aside from casting preferences, for me there's one consideration that tips things decidedly in ABT's favor: the orchestra there does better justice to the beautiful score.

#45 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 02:06 PM

there too some breaks with tradition have been made, such as the swamp-thing Von Rothbart who appears in the prologue


Oh God, yes !...and specially when he grabs that stuffed swan by the neck.. :rofl: I coudn't believe it when i first saw it , and i would say that this is certainly not "traditional Swan Lake".
:tiphat:


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