leonid17

Christopher Wheeldon & 'Morphoses'

120 posts in this topic

Really, I think that the name of a company, how it is pronounced, and what it means is very much on topic. It provides insight into what the directorate sees as the company's mission. I could, for example, found the "Royale Ballet" where the entrechat-six is banned from choreography; the name would be a clue as to a company objective. Apologies to any REAL Ballets Royales out there - the name is proposed only as a hypothetical.

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Really, I think that the name of a company, how it is pronounced, and what it means is very much on topic.

Yes, Mel.

And, as always, the way to tell us when you think something's awry is to use the "Report" button, and/or to lead the topic in a different direction :clapping:

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MOrphoses is in the singular and MorPHOses is in the plural (this is where the accent goes even if the word has a prefix (meta-, epi- etc))

I would have guessed the plural number to be more appropriate.

It's good to have this from a resident of Greece. What better authority could we have?

Thanks, chris217!

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The plural is probably the more correct number for the word, as the singular refers to the "development and change to an organ or part". But for better witnesses, we'd have to consult earlier residents of Greece, Asclepios, Hippocrates, et al., as the term is Classical Greek, not Koine or Modern. NOW is the time for an entry to a Greek language page, in order to determine the morphosis of "morphosis", if any. (Actually, can't you imagine whoever thought the company name up had intended conversations of this sort to happen?)

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The plural is probably the more correct number for the word, as the singular refers to the "development and change to an organ or part". But for better witnesses, we'd have to consult earlier residents of Greece, Asclepios, Hippocrates, et al., as the term is Classical Greek, not Koine or Modern. NOW is the time for an entry to a Greek language page, in order to determine the morphosis of "morphosis", if any. (Actually, can't you imagine whoever thought the company name up had intended conversations of this sort to happen?)

:clapping:

Can we clone Mel's brain? I got dibs on the first one! :D

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(Actually, can't you imagine whoever thought the company name up had intended conversations of this sort to happen?)

:clapping: ? Yes!

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:clapping:

Can we clone Mel's brain? I got dibs on the first one! :D

:D

And you would be welcome to it! Only you probably wouldn't like it. It doesn't know how to do anything that produces significant amounts of MONEY! :P

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:thumbsup:

Can we clone Mel's brain? I got dibs on the first one! :yahoo:

:clapping:

And you would be welcome to it! Only you probably wouldn't like it. It doesn't know how to do anything that produces significant amounts of MONEY! :thanks:

By then neither do the brains -- not to mention bodies, dedication, training, artistry, and generosity -- of 99% of our beloved dancers and choreographers :toot:

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(Mel Johnson @ Aug 19 2007, 01:15 PM)
(perky @ Aug 19 2007, 04:56 PM)

Can we clone Mel's brain? I got dibs on the first one!

And you would be welcome to it! Only you probably wouldn't like it. It doesn't know how to do anything that produces significant amounts of MONEY!

By then neither do the brains -- not to mention bodies, dedication, training, artistry, and generosity -- of 99% of our beloved dancers and choreographers

Mr. Wheeldon, however, may possibly be part of the other 1%. :thumbsup:

No disrespect intended at all to Wheeldon - he clearly has all the qualities Helene mentions, including generosity of spirit

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I understand Wheeldon's hope to quell high expectations. On the other hand, it's hard for people not to have high expectations when articles like the one in the new New York magazine come out:

With the launch of the first major company since City Ballet, Christopher Wheeldon is upending the ballet establishment

I don't know about "upending the ballet establishment" as twisty pas de deux in dim lighting have been around awhile.

On the plus side, it's nice to see a long feature on ballet in the NY weeklies again:

http://nymag.com/arts/classicaldance/dance/features/39314/

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This article is well worth a look.

I guess I’m a little confused. It seems to me that Wheeldon is not ‘upending the ballet establishment.’ He’s the Great White Hope of the ballet establishment. He’s invited everywhere to choreograph, artistic directors talk him up, dancers are lining up to work with him. All of which is great and best of luck to him, but from the tone of articles like this you’d think he was Wheeldon at the Finland Station.

Wheeldon believes the younger crowd will come if he can convince them that ballet is “sexy” and “accessible” and not off-puttingly pretentious. He’s taking his sensual, athletic choreography to the iPod generation by blogging about the company. Morphoses even has a MySpace page.

Wow. I’m stunned by this visionary approach.

On Clement Crisp:

“Over the years, Clement has been very supportive and completely destructive,” Wheeldon said. “I don’t think that it is easy for Clement to review contemporary work in his mid-eighties.”

And the British were really, really mean to him:

Vail, as it turned out, was like the womb that delivers the new fawn into the mouths of the waiting wolves. British wolves for the most part, who were not much impressed by the sheer fact that a new dance company consisting of only four people—Lopez had just brought in a bookkeeper—not only had managed to secure three years of booking fees and raise (by this point) $300,000 but also had put on fourteen ballets (three of them world premieres) by six different choreographers with 30 of the world’s best dancers in a matter of months.

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Am I just being cranky or is $300,000 a ridiculously small amount of money for what Wheeldon is attempting to do? If he wants dancers and a staff on an actual payroll that's going to be an amount in the millions. Yearly.

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It seemed to me that there was a zero missing from that figure.

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However, I am grateful to hear that there is at least one choreographer out there who doesn't want to "stand the ballet world on its ear". I'm getting sick and tired of them.

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However, I am grateful to hear that there is at least one choreographer out there who doesn't want to "stand the ballet world on its ear". I'm getting sick and tired of them.

However, according to Serge Diaghilev, that's what the audiences wanted, and why he kept asking that his artists "astonish" him.

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Not quite. That's what Diaghilev said that he wanted.

That story has always reminded me of some coffeehouse conversation of Dr. Samuel Johnson:

A man is discovered in bed with another woman by his wife.

"Well," says the wife, "I am surprised!"

"No, my dear," says the man, "It is I who am surprised. You are merely astonished."

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Leigh, I think Wheeldon is just now realizing how hard it is to raise $5M. He's had a wonderfully sheltered life to date.

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Robert Gottlieb offers his two cents in the October 29 issue of The New York Observer:

He also bit the hand that’s been feeding him for the past 14 years—Balanchine’s hand. I don’t mean because he’s been nurtured at City Ballet—that’s now Peter Martins’ hand. I mean that his finest works—Polyphonia and Morphoses—are deeply Balanchine-influenced, the former, in fact, a clear homage to Agon. After announcing his “rejection of the Balanchine aesthetic,” he goes on to say, “He could be cruel and manipulative, if you believe the stories people tell. We won’t be having any of those mind games or sexual shenanigans. There’s a kind of symbolic farewell to him in our first [London] season, which includes his Allegro Brillante. It’s a gorgeous piece of uncomplicated classical bravura. That’s my way of politely closing the door on him and bringing those 14 years in New York to an end.” I can think of politer ways he might have closed the door.

He announced as well, “I want to prove that ballet isn’t some old, dusty, glittering thing, all pink, gold and frilly.” Actually, scores of choreographers going back to Fokine 100 years ago have proved that already. What we’re all hoping he’ll prove is that his talent turns out to be as substantial as his ambition. This is a bleak time for choreography—that’s why we all dote on a talent as promising as Wheeldon’s. The pressure on him is immense—so much rides on him (and on his Russian counterpart, Alexei Ratmansky).

Maybe Wheeldon wasn’t so diplomatic, but I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to say: the past wasn’t perfect and I’d like to do things and work with people differently in my company. I’m not sure how he’s ‘rejecting the Balanchine aesthetic’ except in having people roll around on the floor a lot, I agree Balanchine wouldn’t do that....

And although a good deal is made of his youth—he’s 34—that isn’t really very young by choreographer standards.

He's got a point.

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Wheeldon says:

There’s a kind of symbolic farewell to him in our first [London] season, which includes his Allegro Brillante. It’s a gorgeous piece of uncomplicated classical bravura. That’s my way of politely closing the door on him and bringing those 14 years in New York to an end.

Gottlieb responds:

I can think of politer ways he might have closed the door.

This is all very odd, to me at least. If you want to move on, why not just move on? Why snap at the hand that fed you? Why inflate your own plans for the future by disparaging great work of the past?

As to the London program, Judith Flanders wrote a brief review in the Times Literary Supplement in which she briefly compares Wheeldon's work (or at least the pieces that he chose for that program) with what she assumed to be his Balanchinian model. She comments that Wheeldon's choreography was much more narrowly terre a terre than Balanchine, and that it rarely ventured into the Balanchine territory of jumps and turns.

Do the ballets Wheeldon has chosen to showcase his new "company" reflect a new aesthetic emphasis and a kind of rejection of much of what he has done in the past?

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I read his mission statement on the web site. Lots of sound and fury signifying nothing to me. I'm certainly no expert in dance, but sense is that ballet is a very structured tradition of set pieces which can be re interpreted within a somewhat narrow range.

Modern dance seems to free itself from some of the formalism of ballet and is about creating some new experiences using dance as the medium. Fine an dandy.

There certainly is a place for ballet which respects and honors the formalism of its past. Many of these pieces are masterpieces and I don't see them being tossed on the dust bin of history like some dark shelf in the sub sub basement of the Metropolitan Museum.

The demand to see classic ballet may be a very niche market and hard to make economically viable when one considers the expense of training and staging a classic ballet.

But new works need not necessarily be leaner and meaner so they can be a "viable business model".. that is bring them clamoring to the box office.

Is there a shortage of young people who want to train as dancers? Is there a shortage of audiences to attend?

Ballet as technique can be adapted to new pieces. Why not? And they might be very good. And hybrid dances can be done as well to allow for some new infusion of creativity. Why not?

So what is Mr Wheeldon trying to achieve? If he is planning to design some new ballet/dances... go for it. Is it a revolutionary development? Doesn't appear to me to be any more so than other choreographers who have formed their own companies and did work to their own sensibilities. Good for him. I hope he creates something new and interesting. But to create a body of work and a "signature" as Mr B did is a lifetime of work... isn't it? Will he stick with it? Does he have what it takes?

Let's see.

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