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versions of Square Dance


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#1 sandik

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 09:30 AM

The article in the Vail paper in the links section

original version of Square Dance at Vail

made me wonder if we're getting both versions of the work here. I've sent around a couple of emails, but does anyone here have any information (of the sort we're supposed to post, that is!)

#2 Quiggin

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 10:20 AM

Just a note that the Joffrey did the old version a couple of years ago, Winter 2005. John Rockwell liked it and said:

This version is a long way from Balanchine's abstract revision, seen in New York and San Francisco. The original's juxtaposition of country-and-western accents, Baroque violin concertos and academic ballet made Balanchine's jokey premise more pungent. And it's hard to resist a cowboy carrying on, amid pirouetting ballet dancers, about ''the cat in the barn with a rat in her mouth.''


In an informal talk here in San Francisco Helgi Tomasson commented that San Francisco Ballet tried to do the original version, but it didn't seem to work, that the orchestra and the onstage musicians and the caller weren't able to couldn't hear each other.

There is a nice clip of the old version on the PBS Balanchine bio CD, and Patricia Wilde did an interpreter's archive video for the Balanchine Foundation, which is long and dry but good.

#3 Farrell Fan

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 10:30 AM

My impression is that when the two versions are seen in juxtaposition, the original, with the caller and without the male solo, inevitably looks gimmicky and annoying. The callerless version, on the other hand, seems pure and beautiful.

#4 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 10:47 AM

Did the Joffrey do the '57 version or did they do a combination of the two with the '57 costumes and the '76 male solo inserted? It's my understanding that is what they did. If so, it's a pretty strange mash-up.

#5 bart

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 10:54 AM

Here's a short 2002 thread devoted to Square Dances, which includes one of the most elegant evocations of the ballet I've seen, and also mentions the benefits derived when the caller and on-stage band were dropped. (It's by Leigh!)

http://ballettalk.in...hl=square dance

#6 kfw

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 12:19 PM

Did the Joffrey do the '57 version or did they do a combination of the two with the '57 costumes and the '76 male solo inserted? It's my understanding that is what they did. If so, it's a pretty strange mash-up.

The combo is what they danced at the Kennedy Center's Balanchine Celebration in 2000.

#7 glebb

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 12:32 PM

I saw the Joffrey perform the caller version many times in 1976 at City Center and can say that it's not just the insertion of the male solo but also some of the choreography that is different in the newer version.

#8 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 12:42 PM

Definitely. For instance, a turning promenade in the main pas de deux ended in arabesque in the earlier version; it now ends in fifth position.

Merrill Ashley also tweaked her reentry after the pas de deux when she took the role; the story is in "Dancing For Balanchine." It's a small change (she exaggerates a turning split jump) but it was gorgeous when she did it. The current dancers at NYCB that I have seen no longer do this.

#9 Helene

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 02:58 PM

I saw the Joffrey perform the caller version many times in 1976 at City Center and can say that it's not just the insertion of the male solo but also some of the choreography that is different in the newer version.

Just in the short excerpt with Patricia Wilde (sigh :tiphat:) in the Balanchine bio program, I think the choreography changed. When I see Square Dance live, I keep expecting it to look like the video (without the caller and hay :rofl:)

#10 sandik

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 08:22 PM

I keep expecting it to look like the video (without the caller and hay :wink:)


Well, I could always get you a small bouquet of hay when they do it here.

I'm not sure of the details, but I think that Kansas City also has done the 57 version -- the original caller lives (or lived) quite close to the city.

Many thanks for the link. I'm looking forward to seeing whatever version we get here.

#11 glebb

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 08:44 PM

I'm not sure anyone is doing the 57 version any more.
Vicky Simon stages the most current choreography with or without the caller.

#12 Dansuer85

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 09:17 PM

KCB Did it with the caller and with the male solo.

#13 Paul Parish

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 09:58 PM

I saw the version with the caller in hte Bay Area maybe ten years ago -- maybe the Joffrey brought it, but I thought it was the San Jose/Cleveland Ballet...

Whoever it was, I liked it, quite a lot. I can imagine in a different mood finding it as unbearable as "Louisiana hayride," but the dancers were game, though it was VERY challenging for them (they finished a whole count behind the orchestra), but their eagerness to give it a go seemed to make the whole thing make sense, it was outrageous energy, like playing bumper-cars or something, the whole thing was really fun, tremendous fun, much more fun than the NYCB's performance in Zellerbach of the stripped-down version (with of course the male solo). When SFB did it, it wasn't really fun unless Tina LeBlanc did the lead, but then it was so much fun I was laughing out loud when she got to that RIDICULOUS series of piques -- she was totally on top of it, unbelievable, as when swift Camilla sweeps across the plan, flies oer the unbending corn, and skims along the main.

I DO wish I'd seen it with Merrill Ashley.

#14 glebb

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 05:05 AM

I had a conversation in 1988 with Rochelle Zide Booth and she told me that I probably remember the old version better than she does at this point. I hope she really could remember if she put her mind to it.
It would be interesting to find out who could stage the old version.

Paul, I bet Tina was a hoot. Her technique has always been so easy.
Watch out for former Joffrey Ballerina and current SFB soloist Julianne Kepley.
She danced the lead in Joffrey's last presentation of Square Dance and she was quite exciting.

And BTW, Tina was a great Lise in La Fille Mal Gardee with Joffrey in the 80s.

#15 Helene

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Posted 02 August 2007 - 09:12 AM

From a review in today's Links, PNB performed both versions in Vail:

Sunday evening, the company performed the original, folksier version, complete with a caller (Scott Wise) and a group of 10 first-rate musicians from the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival on stage. Monday, it offered the revised, more streamlined version from 1976 with no caller and the musicians in the pit. Which is better? It's a question of taste.


http://origin.denver...ines/ci_6517553


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