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Maurice Béjart at 80


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#1 volcanohunter

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 03:36 PM

Today France 2 evening news ended with a story about Maurice Béjart on the occasion of his 80th birthday. He was never much loved by American critics, but I wonder how Ballet Talkers feel about his work. Do you think Béjart was successful in "de-mystifying" ballet and bringing it to the masses? Or did you find his populist approach off-putting?

The only one of his ballets I got to know well was Song of a Wayfarer since it was in the repertoires of the National Ballet of Canada and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

http://jt.france2.fr/20h/

From TF1: Maurice Béjart fête ses 80 ans à Lausanne

#2 richard53dog

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 07:41 PM

Today France 2 evening news ended with a story about Maurice Béjart on the occasion of his 80th birthday. He was never much loved by American critics, but I wonder how Ballet Talkers feel about his work. Do you think Béjart was successful in "de-mystifying" ballet and bringing it to the masses? Or did you find his populist approach off-putting?

The only one of his ballets I got to know well was Song of a Wayfarer since it was in the repertoires of the National Ballet of Canada and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

http://jt.france2.fr/20h/



No one has replied. I've seen a couple, maybe a half dozen, live and then several other pieces on video. I would say they tend to be......er......dated.

Happy 80th to Maurice none the less!

#3 Farrell Fan

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 09:45 PM

From 1970 to 1974, Suzanne Farrell danced with Béjart's Ballet of the 20th Century. One of the regrets of my life is that during that time I didn't see her dance live, although I subsequently acquired some tapes. The undeniable fact is that when she returned to NYCB, she was a better dancer and more complete artist than she had been. A poster on what was then Ballet Alert once tried to explain this apparently inexplicable phenomenon with the observation that Suzanne's reaction to dancing with Béjart must have been "whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger." Perhaps, but Suzanne continues to hold her "second Mr. B' in the highest regard and, indeed plans to include some of his choreography, including his "Rite of Spring" during her company's Kennedy Center season next June. Happy birthday wishes are indeed in order.

#4 Paul Parish

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 10:20 PM

I found "Songs of a Wayfarer ' really moving when I saw it 30-odd years ago in Berkeley, but I have few after-images from it. "Gaite Parisienne," on the other hand (which was also on the program), I remember in a lot of detail. I thought it was hilarious and thrilling and exhilarating. The dancer who was cursed -- "You will be very very short" -- tore up the house, just tore it up. (I think it was Victor Ullate.) Wonderful performance, wonderful show.

At some point I also saw Bejart's version of "Bolero." Decades later, when I saw Oakland Ballet's reconstruction of Nijinska's version, I saw many of the same elements and appreciated Bejart's stripping away of non-essentials and increasing the hypnotic focus. It's a monumental realization of the theatrical possibilities inherent in that music.

#5 Helene

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 10:26 PM

My favorite Bejart story was one that Maya Plisetskaya told. She had come to work with him, having gotten special permission during Soviet times. She could not in that short period of time follow the counts and permutations of movement and score for Bolero. She was about to give up and go home, but he was concerned that there would severe sanctions against her if she didn't perform. So that she could perform, he stood on something at the back of the theater, and prompted her throughout the entire performance.

#6 sandik

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 10:54 PM

I've seen very little of his work, and so don't really feel I can comment on it directly, but the sense I've always had is that his view of the theater encompassed a sense of spectacle that many American choreographers were uncomfortable with -- in a funny kind of way he reminds me of Cirque du Soliel.

#7 volcanohunter

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Posted 09 February 2007 - 12:44 PM

Today's (February 9) France 2 evening news includes another report about Maurice Béjart, this time on the occasion of his troupe visiting Paris with two programs. It features comments from Béjart and Gil Roman. Use the menu on the right to skip ahead to 33 minutes past the hour. (But first you'll have to get past that pesky ad.)

http://jt.france2.fr/20h/

From TF1: Les spectacles de Maurice Béjart n'ont pas pris une ride

#8 innopac

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 01:56 PM

Is "Songs of a Wayfarer" available on dvd or vhs? Either with Nureyev or Hilaire and Legris?

After the death of Bortoluzzi, Donn and Nureyev – all three died of the same illness – Maurice Béjart didn’t want “Songs of the Wayfarer” to be danced any more. He only permitted it on the occasion of the gala organised at the Palais Garnier to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Nureyev’s death on January 20th 2003. Laurent Hilaire and Manuel Legris – both promoted “principal dancers” by Nureyev – were splendid performers, moving and inspired.
Rudolf Nureyev Foundation



#9 volcanohunter

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Posted 27 October 2007 - 07:18 PM

When Laurent Hilaire had his official farewell performance with the POB in February, he performed Song of a Wayfarer with Manuel Legris, as well as Balanchine's Apollo.

#10 popularlibrary

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 11:10 AM

Is "Songs of a Wayfarer" available on dvd or vhs? Either with Nureyev or Hilaire and Legris?

If you are willing to put up with hideous amateur photography that constantly goes in and out of focus, and the ballet being in six pieces, YouTube has a nearly complete performance of Le Chanson du Compagnon Errant with Hilaire and Legris from the 2007 Moscow Prix Benois Gala. Look under 'Benois de la dance' - and make sure you get all six pieces. If you are interested, I can tell you what order the pieces go in. (It is possible to figure it out, but time-consuming.)

Personally, I think the performance (as opposed to the ballet itself) is worth every bit of the inconvenience. These are two of the greatest dancers of the past couple of generations giving performances of majestic power, subtlety and beauty. They are a lesson in great art, and not to be missed, especially as Hilaire is now retired and Legris will be by next July.

#11 innopac

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 11:55 AM

Is "Songs of a Wayfarer" available on dvd or vhs? Either with Nureyev or Hilaire and Legris?

If you are willing to put up with hideous amateur photography that constantly goes in and out of focus, and the ballet being in six pieces, YouTube has a nearly complete performance of Le Chanson du Compagnon Errant with Hilaire and Legris from the 2007 Moscow Prix Benois Gala. Look under 'Benois de la dance' - and make sure you get all six pieces. If you are interested, I can tell you what order the pieces go in. (It is possible to figure it out, but time-consuming.)


Thanks so much! If you have the time. popularlibrary, to write out the order of the clips I would really appreciate it.

#12 popularlibrary

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Posted 28 October 2007 - 02:37 PM

Thanks so much! If you have the time. popularlibrary, to write out the order of the clips I would really appreciate it.

Happy to. The easiest way is to give you the time for each part:
part one - 3:22
part two - 4:40
part three - 3:37
part four - 1:26
part five - 1:51
part six - 2:55

#13 innopac

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 12:17 AM

Happy to. The easiest way is to give you the time for each part:
part one - 3:22
part two - 4:40
part three - 3:37
part four - 1:26
part five - 1:51
part six - 2:55


That is so beautiful....


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