More sang froid fits the music, I think. How did Verdy do it? Among the several photos in B.H. Haggin's "Discovering Balanchine" of Verdy in Emeralds there is one on page 100 where she's smiling.
As far as Emeralds was concerned, there was a generally tepid response--and Pujol's "emoting" bothered many: most expected to see more sang froid and less joyeux.
"Jewels" DVD and PBS Great Performances broadcast
Posted 03 September 2006 - 01:27 PM
Posted 03 September 2006 - 05:01 PM
Posted 03 September 2006 - 06:01 PM
I've seen old footage of Violette in Emeralds, and the performance is -- well, the words I'd use would be voluptuous, ravishing, ecstatic. The lower body was very sharp and arrowy, and the upper body was dancing behind the music, like a jazz singer, toying with the beat, and her shoulders, breast, the whole upper body were like Isadora Duncan's, somehow she "left herself behind." The dance that's all port de bras was ravhishingly playful.... an awful phrase, but I don't know how else to put it. . Unbelievable feminine charm.
I saw Verdy in Jewels just one time but your description ties in pretty well with my long ago memory. I didn't catch the time lag between her lower and upper body, that would have been a little too subtle for me to notice at that early point in my experience.
She was very feminine in this role and very "on", not acting or emoting, but "on". But I agree a dancer trying to model their approach after Verdy could easily come off as "too much"
Posted 05 September 2006 - 02:52 PM
Objections about casting set aside (and Helene is right to point them out, even if I still prefer the French filtering of Balanchine to many others), I find this in many ways quite an exemplary ballet DVD release. The performance itself is augmented by a 58 minutes documentary bonus, more rewarding than its title "George Balanchine Forever" might suggest at first sight. It has interviews with the Parisian soloists featuring in the performance (interesting in itself as it concerns a generation who knows Balanchine only from books and teaching), dance director Brigitte Lefèvre, Barbara Horgan, and designer Christian Lacroix.
There is also a 26-page booklet with photos and with solid liner notes (even if I wouldn't call Balanchine "son of a famous composer"). It even has all the names of the dancers appearing in the performance. OK, they are given in alphabetical order, étoiles mixed with premier danseurs, but hey, how many ballet DVD's have the whole corps de ballet listed?
I thought the filming better than on many other recent ballet DVD's. Surely, there is always something that gets lost in the multi-camera editing, but when there would be just one camera filming the whole stage people would complain they can't see the faces. What's more worrying however is the definition quality of the image, blurry in movements (it seems it was produced for TV?)
Yet as a document on the POB dancing Balanchine, in my view, a superb release that no ballet lover should miss.
I couldn't agree more. I don't have the DVD yet, but based on the television broadcast I think we are very fortunate to have this "Jewels" on the record. I have quibbles and cavils, many of which have already been made above, but if this is the only "Jewels" we will have on DVD for awhile, we could have done much worse.
"Emeralds" comes off best, but in addition to all the reasons set forth above, I would add that it benefits from being made on a smaller scale and so suffers least from the flattening effect that filming so often has on ballet. "Diamonds," as might be expected, is hurt the most, although the corps was still a pleasure to look at.
It might be interesting to see a complete "Jewels" staged for the studio. The Dance in America excerpts have cheesy sets and no room, but on the other hand you do get close to the dancers without having arms and legs cut off.
Am buying the DVD pronto.
Posted 05 September 2006 - 04:52 PM
"Thank you for taking the time to write. We are sorry that you missed the final section of Emeralds. Schedules vary from station to station. To find out why the program was preempted it would be necessary for you to contact KCTS directly."
This led me to believe that it was KCTS Seattle that shortened the broadcast, but judging from this thread, no one saw the last section. (Talk about passing the buck!) It's ironic that PBS chose a still from the missing last section to put on the front page of the Great Performances web site. I realize that PBS has to divert some time from each program to list their corporate and private sponsors, but I do wish they could have found an extra five minutes to show the ballet in its entirety.
Posted 06 September 2006 - 06:15 AM
All this time I thought those were the original sets.
The Dance in America excerpts have cheesy sets
Posted 06 September 2006 - 08:49 AM
Posted 06 September 2006 - 11:06 AM
I thought I was aware of it myself until you posted, and then I thought that perhaps I'd been mistaken. I prefer LaCroix's as well, but for my taste cheesy (and cloying and overwrought) describes what NYCB currently uses for Emeralds and Diamonds.
I'm aware of that, thanks. I'm talking about how they look on the tape.
Posted 06 September 2006 - 11:52 AM
Posted 06 September 2006 - 01:56 PM
I'm happy to read some positive comments about Osta's performance here, as she's a dancer I've always liked much in the Balanchine repertory, and she sometimes got some undeserved criticism from some people insinuating that she was promoted to principal only as Nicolas Le Riche's wife. I generally was less convinced by Pujol in Balanchine roles, but haven't seen her that often in such a repertory.
Posted 06 September 2006 - 02:03 PM
here are some links to the biographies of the main dancers of that video on the POB site, in case it could be useful:
Posted 08 September 2006 - 08:08 PM
I don't mind the medium shots, many of which are very nicely done.
It's interesting that they didn't go for a lot of side angle shots (which so many directors do to a fault)... Was it less distracting that way? I find many of the cuts still distracting with your eye having to re-adjust and hunt for continuity of vision. I appreciate that they may have wanted to do it all with cuts rather than dissolves because of the style of the choreography (we are talking cut jewels, aren't we?) but there are too many times where a choreographic shape needs to hang in your eye while you begin to take in the next moment. I know in the past I've complained about jumping the viewer around the house, and that this was apparently shot to keep the viewer in one seat... but I wouldn't go so far as to say one should never use a side angle (from the house, not the wings, that is) if one has the resources to have several cameras as I imagine this production did. It seems this was shot with fewer cameras than the typical PBS ballet shoots have used; but I see from the credits that they had 10 cameramen....
I didn't have the oportunity to watch this on a high def screen, and I have a question for those who did... Did you find the wide shots too wide or was the resolution was so fine that you didn't feel you were too far away?
Posted 28 December 2006 - 09:07 PM
Posted 02 January 2007 - 09:50 PM
Emeralds had the best music. Rubies the liveliest dancing. Diamonds an odd mixture of old and new. I liked it.
Posted 20 January 2007 - 01:51 PM
Anyway. Onto the DVD!
It was mostly beautiful. The Emeralds bodices and tiaras were quite unflattering (esp. to Pujol) but the projection and the layered skirts were GAW-geous. I also thought the men’s stripy arms were quite stylish. I thought the Rubies ruffles fitted the mood, and again the projection was rather delicious. Least favourite, in fact, was Diamonds: the tutus (esp. Letestu’s) were too stiff and wide, and under the top layer, they had the same texture as crinkle-cut crisps. But these are unfair, small quibbles: of course, the overall stage picture was beautiful throughout.
The music for Emeralds is completely ravishing and must be heaven to dance to: in fact I personally would have to actively keep myself from getting carried away and, perhaps, end up like the POB on this video. Pujol’s ‘oddly demented expression’ (love that phrase, bart!) was slightly distracting, but she really poured herself into her dance. Osta perhaps caught the intended, mysterious atmosphere better, but then stood out in comparison (esp. in the finale: unfortunate close-up) and looked a bit flat, and even sulky. The contrast between ‘young lovers’ and ‘older lovers’ was there in the two pd2s (authentic or not) which I found effective, making the ‘walking pd2’ appear all the more pensive and beautiful (though was the walking a little off?). Ganio and Belarbi didn’t have much to do except look handsome, which they did (supermodel-worthiness apparently being a prerequisite for a job in the POB). The pas de trois was appropriately sprightly, and the two finales were well done. I love the quiet end: it’s such a brilliant idea.
I love this section: it’s so fun (the ‘high-five’ is great!). For me, the fun still came across despite the slightly over-sophisticated approach. Also, the ‘ballet is woman’ thing (that was Balanchine, right?) was most obvious here (in this performance at least) because Dupont seemed so dignified and technically awesome as well, in contrast to Carbone who was happy and bouncy, seemingly trying to attract her attention. I wasn’t especially struck by Gillot: she danced really well but didn’t click with me, for some reason. She also suffered from her tiara, which really was quite unflattering.
Re: Letestu, her interpretation may not have been authentic but I found it more intriguing than Farrell’s more ‘goddess-like’ version. That’s not to say I preferred it, but I didn’t dislike it: to me (atm, at least!) each is perfectly acceptable in its own way. I guess the difference is that Martins was ‘in love’ with Farrell, while Letestu/Bart were ‘in love’ with each other. (I know that’s simplistic, but you get the idea.) Their emoting really brought out the romanticism of the Tchaikovsky, and in the end I found it very moving. Maybe I’m biased: I love the music and the choreography. The kiss on the hand was impulsive and heartfelt rather than tribute, even seemingly catching Letestu by surprise. So, a more intensely romantic reading overall, vs the more restrained ye perhaps more powerful Farrell/Martins.
Re: the rest of Diamonds, I’m not over-keen on the choreography for the first movement: the two soloists are fine, but there are far too many ‘waltz steps’ (sorry, I don’t know its proper name) for my taste. However, the two and later four soloists were great. Bart’s hair was a little odd, but hey, he danced really well. Hmm, Letestu was I think a little overambitious in playing with phrasing during her solo passages in the third movement (of the ballet, not the symphony) and she looked a bit behind the music sometimes. But she moved beautifully anyway. The finale is so exciting, and it was lively and exhilarating, a great end to the performance.
3rd: Diamonds (a little bit blah)
So, although it wasn’t a completely perfect performance, which is probably best described as ‘alternative’, I think we are lucky to have to have such an effective alternative.
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