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"Jewels" DVD and PBS Great Performances broadcast


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#151 sophia

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 12:20 AM

Ganio and Hilaire didn’t have much to do except look handsome, which they did (supermodel-worthiness apparently being a prerequisite for a job in the POB).


This is Kader Belarbi, and not Laurent Hilaire. :wink:
Both have black hair!

I also think Emeralds is the best part of parisian Jewels.

#152 scherzo

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 01:36 AM

This is Kader Belarbi, and not Laurent Hilaire. :wink:
Both have black hair!


Oh, duh! Sorry, brain wasn't working. I have changed the post.

#153 volcanohunter

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 04:08 PM

...making the ‘walking pd2’ appear all the more pensive and beautiful (though was the walking a little off?).

I know what you mean. Balanchine rarely choreographed on the pulse of the music--that would be altogether too simplistic--and that pd2 is like the exception that proves the rule. Q: What can you do on the pulse? A: Walk. That "exception that proves the rule" comment comes from the June 1983 issue of Ballet News, in which Kenneth LaFave wrote about Balanchine's approach to music:

Violin Concerto is typical of Balanchine's refusal to have his dancers thump out the bear of the music. While he is on record as saying that the musical element most essential to dancing is that of pulse, Balanchine rarely mirrors the beat in his own dances. The beat is in the dance the same way salt is in the loaf of bread--essential, but not apparent. (An exception, which may help prove the rule, is the so-called "Walking pas de deux" from Emeralds, to the softly pulsive music of Fauré.)

On the Choreography by Balanchine DVD Karin von Aroldingen and Sean Lavery most definitely walk on the beat, so I assume this is how Balanchine taught them to dance it. I think Osta was trying to do this also, but I get the feeling that Belarbi had other ideas.

#154 artist

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Posted 25 February 2007 - 08:16 PM

after reading a lot of positive feedback, I guess I should admit I may have overlooked this one. Being blunt, I disliked that performance b/c I'm stuck in this fantasy world that the dancers of the early 1900s will come back. I felt like it was emotionless though it had emotions, perhaps all they could think about his how hungry the were - too thin for me - it seems to take away from the art. (please forgive my honest feelings :blink: )

I was anticipating to see this ballet since I've never seen it and it was POB. uuggh, I was just disappointed by it.

I'm sorry, I just really felt like it was dying, just like this rare quality of emotions.

#155 scherzo

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 09:11 AM

after reading a lot of positive feedback, I guess I should admit I may have overlooked this one. Being blunt, I disliked that performance b/c I'm stuck in this fantasy world that the dancers of the early 1900s will come back. I felt like it was emotionless though it had emotions, perhaps all they could think about his how hungry the were - too thin for me - it seems to take away from the art. (please forgive my honest feelings :) )

I was anticipating to see this ballet since I've never seen it and it was POB. uuggh, I was just disappointed by it.

I'm sorry, I just really felt like it was dying, just like this rare quality of emotions.

That's rather interesting: care to elaborate?

#156 bart

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Posted 27 February 2007 - 11:08 AM

I also hope you'dd develop your point of view, artist. You certainly aren't alone in missing a kind of emotional expression quite different from Balanchine, who was reacting against earlier 20th century expression of 19th century style. Which dancers and/or ballets were you thinking of?

#157 artist

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Posted 02 March 2007 - 12:03 AM

I don't think that it's only with Balanchine ballets, though his are of the newer ballets. What I meant with how I felt about this performance is pretty much a lot of what I see all around. The expression just seems surface, no in depth passion exerting. (like lifting from the chest, rather than below it)

Just b/c Balanchine didn't exactly have stories/plots to some of his choreography, doesn't mean there has to be a robotic/cold/'just dancing' look. Ballet is an artform, not a task. This is where creativity comes into play. No matter how thin someone is, it all depends on how the dancer depicts their role in the work. It's like everyone works so hard to get in the fittest of shape w/ the best of features. But when does one stop? Yes, that's where the 'Balanchine body' comes in, but I don't think that that is what's needed to dance. Some could argue that it ['good' feet and body] completes the line, but as long as you're in the correct position, it's the same step - except the feeling that goes w/ it. But it doesn't work with the acting or the emotions. One could just put their hand by their ear, but it's how it's done w/ a certain sensitivity that grasps the audience. The audience of today is trained to see this type of ballet (w/ stick figures and athletic movement - like acrobats) that every dancer has to keep up or excel their past.

I admit I was generalizing this performance b/c I only saw it on PBS last summer. Nothing really struck me so it just left my memory as I just saw the same types of performances that seem to lack an inner movement. Though the costumes were beautiful.

There's just always something missing. My heart is only being touched by a few. I'm not referring to a handful that have the 'it factor' or anything, but rather, the ability to make a connection w/ others.

A performance is a performance, until one actually starts to perform. I don't think my expectations are too high b/c this has been acheived before. IMO it's the dance that has lowered its standards in certain areas, but vicariously. Focusing on those arches or that extension or how skinny or how much ballon shoves the intangible to the back of the stage. Those emotions are being covered up by satisfiers for the audience. So does that mean it's our duty to change this?

I may be making way too big a deal on this performance, acknowledgeing that it is Balanchine, but in the end IMO is what is hurting people's outlook on the arts.

#158 Mike Gunther

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Posted 03 March 2007 - 03:55 PM

The same point was made by several artists being interviewed on the 2006 "Ballets Russes" DVD. The interviewees were some of the original(!) members of the Monte Carlo incarnation of Ballets Russes. While admiring of contemporary technique, they felt that today's dancers had lost the emotional and artistic connections to those works. Maybe it's true... looking at the archival footage I could see their point. As for the later Balanchine, though, surely Suzanne Farrell is doing her creditable best to bring it back, or at least to keep it alive? Or don't you agree?

#159 scherzo

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 02:15 AM

The same point was made by several artists being interviewed on the 2006 "Ballets Russes" DVD. The interviewees were some of the original(!) members of the Monte Carlo incarnation of Ballets Russes. While admiring of contemporary technique, they felt that today's dancers had lost the emotional and artistic connections to those works. Maybe it's true... looking at the archival footage I could see their point. As for the later Balanchine, though, surely Suzanne Farrell is doing her creditable best to bring it back, or at least to keep it alive? Or don't you agree?


It must depend on the care with which works are revived. The original dancers (and later casts) of Jewels would have had Balanchine himself to work with. Nowadays, only Balanchine Trust members are around who are not Balanchine, and so they have their own ideas about how to stage his works, perhaps differing from Balanchine's own. Which may be why some of the POB's interpretations are now supposedly so far wide of the mark: to the stagers they may have been acceptable, or at least interesting yet convincing alternatives. Present-day dancers' connections to works are becoming increasingly tenuous, and the job of people like Farrell is to relay a certain emotion or frame of mind: how difficult to do effectively and accurately! Maybe Farrell is doing so well because she had such a connection herself with Balanchine.

For the record, in general I did not find the POB's performance especially cold or disconnected. It may not have had the same sort of vitality/feeling as other performances, but different companies will bring different qualities to works: that is what makes ballet interesting, after all. Perhaps the POB style is more understated and polished, leading to a general lack of genuine, physical Excitement, but I liked the way that most of the dancers inhabited their roles, and to me they really did seem to be having a good time. Letestu may have been rather cold, and her interpretation not to all tastes, but at least we knew she was doing what she loved, from the quality and beauty of her movement. (Though I have to say, this is definitely a slow-burn performance which benefits from repeated viewing...first time round I had similar reactions to artist's)

#160 volcanohunter

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 04:00 PM

As for the later Balanchine, though, surely Suzanne Farrell is doing her creditable best to bring it back, or at least to keep it alive? Or don't you agree?

Here's a quote from a 1998 article on Jewels in the New Criterion that may be relevant to the discussion.

Edward Villella, who is now the artistic director of the Miami City Ballet, the only company other than NYCB ever to stage a complete Jewels, told of how he had invited all three ballerinas—Violette Verdy, Patricia McBride, and Suzanne Farrell—to coach his ballerinas in their roles. He praised the commitment and skill of all three equally. And then he paused, angled his body toward the audience, and moved into a more searching key, as if to grapple with something difficult. It was his opinion that Suzanne had become too serious in her devotion to Balanchine, serving his memory and coaching his ballets as if she were wearing a mantle, and maybe it was too much. That Villella was compelled to voice this particular feeling—saying what has been unsaid—in the context of this particular ballet should come as no surprise. Is it not another shock from the house of Jewels? Farrell didn’t marry Balanchine in his lifetime, but she has become the wife of his nights.

Balanchine’s castle

#161 volcanohunter

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 04:01 PM

[post deleted]

#162 papeetepatrick

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Posted 24 November 2007 - 07:41 PM

I'm remarkably au courant as always--in this case about a year and a half after everyone else-- so finally started watching this video tonight, just watching 'Emeralds' thus far. I prefer it for the music, which is sublime, and like this better than NYCB version with Merrill Ashley and Daniel Duell. Then read the whole thread, I usually love 'Emeralds' most too. Someone stands out in it sometimes, as Osto and Ganio here, Robert Tewsley was even more outstanding at NYCB live in 2004 when I saw it there. I wasn't bothered with the smiles--French smiles are different and a bit introverted anyway. Also like the women's costumes a great deal as others have noted. But I see 'Emeralds' as a very special, almost religious homage to Faure by Balanchine, and that's why it's so moving. I'm not going to vote in the poll, though, because I love 'Emeralds' most for the music and how Balanchine respected it in all its gentleness, not necessarily do I prefer it in all ways to 'Rubies' and 'Diamonds.'

#163 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 10:35 PM

You certainly aren't alone in missing a kind of emotional expression quite different from Balanchine, who was reacting against earlier 20th century expression of 19th century style.

No, here i am too!!! :D

#164 papeetepatrick

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 06:31 PM

Continuing on with one Jewel at a time, so that after each I can go back and see all the comments, seeing it now after it's become passe, at least as a hot topic (like a movie hitting the drive-ins after doing the metropolitan cinemas, then the small town theaters, decades ago.)

I can see what nysusan and carbro meant about the 'soft' look, but I think it applies more to Gillot (especially) and also Dupont, somewhat, but not at all to Carbone, who makes this performance work even with all that soft look. That 'soft movement' goes against the angular, clipped sound of the music and so these women, especially the 'tall one', Ms. Gillot, seem very creamy-voluptuous, a very French thing to find no matter what domain, but M. Carbone is fabulous. I kept looking for traces of McBride type sparkle in the women, but he's the one who has it--he's mercurial. As a counterpoint to his sparkle, the women are satisfying to me anyway, even though they're apparently wrong. I thought it interesting to see it performed this way, and I liked it more than what I saw at NYCB in 2004, definitely the set is so much more tasteful.

I watched some more of 'Emeralds' again, and now I do understand the meaning of 'port de bras'. This is what I saw the most extreme version of softness in when others and I were recently discussing South Indian dance. But I was finally really looking at the arms, and Osta was sublime this way.

I love POB, and imagine that they are probably, all things considered, my favourite of all companies, if I were to see them in person. Anyway, I'll see Diana Vishneva do 'Rubies' with the Kirov in April or May, like many others here, and i imagine that will be more 'Balanchinian'. But the French do 'Emeralds' better than NYCB to my perception, although I didn't see Violette Verdy, and anyway she's French too. Faure is more 'purely French' than either Debussy or Ravel (who can be also, but also can seem a bit more explicitly 'Parisian'), and I've noticed the difference in French orchestral performance of Faure, which is always able to resist the attempt to break out of the introspective and richly meditative nature of Ravels' 'cher Maitre'; they know how not to rush through it. Anyway, except for Robert Tewsley, this POB 'Emeralds' I very much prefer to the two NYCB ones I've seen, the DIA and the live 2004 performance. And I think M. Carbone is really great in this very youthful kind of way.

#165 papeetepatrick

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 08:07 PM

I could not disagree more about the Diamonds pdd. I adore it. I love the regally understated opening, with the dancers approaching each other ceremoniously. The impression of a courtly distance between the two dancers is actually beautiful, conveying the sense of an imperial protocol, formal but not cold. The woman has the gravitas and coolness of seasoned royalty -- or she should have, which is why I find Letestu's alternately pained and flirtatious expressions so jarring. As Balanchine said, she is the queen, but he is not the king. He is the prince consort. That's why a royal deportment is so crucial, as exemplified by Martins and Farrell. I don't get that from either principal in this performance. The ending hand-kiss is emblematic of what's wrong. With Farrell/Martins, he offered the kiss as a tribute to her, and she accepted it as her due. It was thrilling. The POB version was anticlimactic -- thrown away, nothing special. I agree that the corps was sublime, but the principals didn't get it.


This is the way I feel about 'Diamonds' too, and I think Phaedra392's comment is perfect. It's all about aristocracy, the stateliness and the rigid kind of perfection, among other things. But perhaps also this is a 'This is What Ballet Is' ballet. I don't find anything about it boring, and think the music is sublime. Even though it is Tchaikovsky (and needs to be to aspire to some kind of ballet Olympus), it reminds me of such things as Bach's 'Well-Tempered Klavier', one of those concert evenings when you hear them all at once. I didn't really notice Phaedra's points about the details even though I read them before watching; my impression was that Ms. Letestu has little to do with this 'queen', as Phaedra describes the original Farrell role. with which I am very familiar. Too lightweight, and toward the end, there is even a sense of mediocrity to the dancing, which I hadn't noticed earlier--needed an energy of a vertical sort. I prefer this to all of the big-ballerina-role Romantic ballets except 'The Sleeping Beauty', infinitely more than things like 'Giselle' , although that just demonstrates our various taste differences--it does surprise me how few people do like 'Diamonds' though. And it should seem possible that dancers will start to want to begin to ripen towards 'Diamonds' as they have been doing for decades with Odette and Aurora and Giselle. Ms. Letestu doesn't have any of Farrell's nobility, but it was good to see it done by another company, because it's fully in the public domain now. I'm convinced other ballerinas can eventually do it as well as Farrell--in fact, they should aspire to go beyond it, whether or not they can--if they want to as much as they want to be great Odette/Odiles. I got the impression Ms. Letestu got tired out by the rigour of the role, that she was relieved when it was finally over. But I hadn't cared for her presence in this even earlier on, when she danced very well. Tempo too slow in this one. Anyway, after going through this once, I realize as I did when seeing this live, there is no favourite 'Jewel' for me, except for the music. They're all indispensible.


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