Helene

PNB Co-Presents "Balanchine's Petipa"

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PNB is co-producing this great lecture demo, and it is being presented by Doug Fullington (aka doug) on October 5, 6-7:30pm at the Phelps Center, next to McCaw Hall. I've added emphasis in blue below.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET CO-PRESENTS LECTURE-DEMONSTRATION

BALANCHINE'S PETIPA

October 5, 2007 ~ 6:00-7:30 p.m. at the Phelps Center

SEATTLE, WA — Pacific Northwest Ballet and dance historian Doug Fullington present Balanchine’s Petipa, a lecture-demonstration exploring the influence of choreographer George Balanchine’s training and performance experience in Russia on his subsequent choreography. Excerpts from essential 19th-century ballets by choreographer Marius Petipa and his colleagues, including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker and Paquita, will be performed alongside excerpts from key Balanchine works, including Apollo, Theme and Variations, Divertimento No. 15, Emeralds and Divertimento from ‘Le Baiser de la Fee’. The Balanchine works will be staged by PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal and PNB Founding Artistic Director Francia Russell. Doug Fullington will revive the 19th century dances from century-old notation in the Stepanov system, now housed at the Harvard Theatre Collection.

PNB Company dancers and students from PNB School will dance the excerpts, accompanied by pianist Dianne Chilgren, and Boal and Fullington will lead a discussion focusing on Balanchine’s training and 19th-century Russian ballet and how it may have influenced Balanchine’s own choreography and development of classical ballet vocabulary in the 20th century. Choreography for men, including pas de deux partnering, will be a particular focus.

The Balanchine's Petipa lecture-demonstration in sponsored in part by 4Culture.

Balanchine's Petipa - Friday, October 5, 2007 ~ 6:00–7:30 p.m.

The Phelps Center, 301 Mercer Street, Seattle 98109

Tickets are $10 and may be purchased by calling the PNB Box Office at (206) 441-2424, online at www.pnb.org or in person at the PNB Box Office at 301 Mercer Street.

Program

Introduction

Flora's Awakening (Drigo/Petipa; 1894) – Zephyr coda

Theme and Variations (Tchaikovsky/Balanchine; 1947) – First male solo

Performers: Lucien Postlewaite, with Carla Körbes, Kaori Nakamura, Jodie Thomas & Mara Vinson

Choreography for boys

Raymonda (Glazunov/Petipa; 1898) – Dance of the Arab boys

Performers: Students from PNBS Intermediate Boys class

Male variations

Swan Lake (Tchaikovsky/Gorsky; 1895?) – Act III variation

Performer: Benjamin Griffiths

Divertimento No. 15 (Mozart/Balanchine; 1956) – Variation 5

Performer: Lucien Postlewaite

Pas de deux and character dancing

La Bayadère (Minkus/Petipa;1877/1900) – Kingdom of the Shades pas de deux

Performers: Kaori Nakamura & Lucien Postlewaite

The Nutcracker (Tchaikovsky/Ivanov; 1892) – Harlequin & Columbine

Performers: Jodie Thomas & James Moore

Apollo (Stravinsky/Balanchine; 1928) – Pas de deux

Performers: Carla Körbes & Lucien Postlewaite

Pas de trois

Paquita (Delvedez/Minkus/Petipa; 1881) – Pas de trois

Performers: Kaori Nakamura, Mara Vinson & James Moore

Emeralds (Fauré/Balanchine; 1967) – Pas de trois

Performers: Carla Körbes, Jodie Thomas & Benjamin Griffiths

Late male variations

The Sleeping Beauty (Tchaikovsky/Legat?; 1892/circa 1900) – Act III variation

Performer: Lucien Postlewaite

Divertimento from “Le Baiser de la feé” (Stravinsky/Balanchine; 1972) – Male variation

Performer: Benjamin Griffiths

Program and casting subject to change. For further information, please visit: www.pnb.org.

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Thanks for the heads up Helene. What an opportunity. I just got off the phone with PNB to buy my wife and I tickets. I've always been impressed with how Doug does his educational programs. His thoroughness together with actual dancers doing examples has my expectations high.

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Darn, just 3,000 miles will keep me away from what seems to be an wonderful evening. I love lecture/performances.

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I am so envious -- this is such a well conceived and well put together program. It is like the kind of thing that Joe and Dan Duell used to present for NYCB. It shows that they respect the audience's intellect and taste.

Congratulations to all involved. Maybe it will be videotaped and put online??????

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Congratulations to all involved. Maybe it will be videotaped and put online??????
I'll second those congratulations and the question. Something via the PNB website or the like? The national/international audience might not be huge, and it might be scattered. But I'll bet it would would add up to something great for PNB and even better for classical ballet as a whole. :speechless-smiley-003:

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I am so envious -- this is such a well conceived and well put together program. It is like the kind of thing that Joe and Dan Duell used to present for NYCB. It shows that they respect the audience's intellect and taste.

Congratulations to all involved. Maybe it will be videotaped and put online??????

The Balanchine Trust is very strict about videotaping any Balanchine ballets. I doubt that it will be taped and put online. If it is taped, it will probably be for archieve purposes and teaching purposes

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I'll "record" it in my mind when I see it. Now all we have to do is figure out an access scheme :speechless-smiley-003:

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I'm really looking forward to this program. I've seen some of Doug F's reconstructions from Stepanov notation and they are stunning.

I imagine that the company will record this, but I doubt that it will be available publicly -- copyright is indeed a twisty issue.

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i'm surprised the paper didn't try to print a caption that identifies the dancers.

the photocard, c. 1912, shows the Pas de Trois from PAQUITA with (left to right) Elza Vill, Pyotr Vladimirov and Elizaveta Gerdt.

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I just attend "Balanchine's Petipa."

:bow: doug.

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"Balanchine's Petipa -- Choreography for Men" began with an introduction by Doug Fullington to Stepanov and his notation system and to Petipa, to the participating dancers -- Benjamin Griffiths, Carla Korbes, James Moore, Kaori Nakamura, Lucien Postlewaite, Jodie Thomas, and Mara Vinson -- and an overview of the approach for the demonstration.

The presentation took place in the Studio C, the large studio, where the cannons and the Peacock's cage from The Nutcracker were already stowed. With the exception of the "Dance of the Arab boys" from Raymonda, which was performed twice by the intermediate boys class, after Doug gave an introduction to the pieces that were about to be performed, and discussed the structural and musical similarities and differences between the reconstructed Petipa and the Balanchine excerpts -- sometimes followed by comments and anecdotes by Peter Boal -- there were demonstrations of the works by the dancers.

The pairings were

  • "Zephyr solo with four nymphs" from The Awakening of Flora and "First male variation with 4 demi-solo women" from Theme and Variations
  • "Male variation, Act III" from Swan Lake and "Variation 5" from Divertimento No. 15
  • "Kingdom of the Shades Pas de Deux" from La Bayadere/"Harlequin and Columbine" from The Nutcracker and "Pas de deux" from Apollo
  • "Pas de Trois" from Paquita and "Pas de Trois" from Emeralds
  • "Prince Desire variation, Act III" from Sleeping Beauty and "Male variation" from Divertimento from "Le Baiser de la Fee"

Doug explained that the male variation from Swan Lake Act III was choreographed and performed by Alexander Gorsky, who was the second man in the Act III Pas de Deux, much like Benno was the third person in the "White Swan Pas de Deux." He pointed out the influence of the French style and Bournonville on this variation.

A common thread was a discussion of structure and architecture, and how patterns and symmetry played an important roles in the works. Doug also noted that both Petipa and Balanchine were notable character dancers. While not all of the choreography demonstrated was done by Petipa -- Gorsky did the Swan Lake variation and Ivanov completed Nutcracker after Petipa did the notes and overview -- it must have been liberating to approach choreography as a character dancer. A Prince who choreographed might have been locked into line and have been limited in scope and imagination, but to a character dancer, Prince was just one more shade of male. The Swan Lake variation was beautifully danced by Benjamin Griffiths.

Using a wider palette also allowed for a more varied approach to the role of the cavalier. Doug spoke about the difference between the long, stretched lines of the typical Prince style, compared to the work in plie like in "Variation 5" from Divertimento No. 15, which had similarities to the Gorsky Swan Lake variation. Lucien Postlewaite, who performed both and the solo from Theme and Variations, has a fundamental grasp of the emphasis on demi-plie in these variations, and his own geometry, with his beautiful turnout, reflects the diamond patterns that are found on the floor in many of the Petipa and Balanchine ballets. (This was one of the highlights of his performance in Rubies.) Peter Boal spoke about how ending/staying in plie, usually a transition step, was emphasized in the choreography.

Postlewaite could be the Prince, too. Doug's approach to the Sleeping Beauty variation was to break it down into sections which Postlewaite performed. The variation straight through would have been like competing in the decathalon, but performed as JavelinHurdlesShotputHighjumpDiscus1500metersLongjump400metersPolevault100meterd

ash. Postlewaite also danced Apollo to Carla Korbes' Terpsichore, the role in which Peter Boal discovered the 14-year-old Korbes. He has the uncanny ability to focus on the ballerina in such a way that you see her through his eyes. I hope this pairing isn't a tease, and that we get to see them in this ballet soon. Dianne Chilgren, the accompanist for the program, gave an almost haunting rendition of the score.

There was a fascinating part where Doug described a lift in the La Bayadere Pas de Deux, which Postlewaite and Kaori Nakamura, who excelled in this and the Paquita, demonstrated: he lifted her to his waist, so that she was practically horizontal, while he extended his other arm to the side, while walking backwards. It was an incredible lift, but it was replaced with a different one in the actual performance, a lift that Doug noted Balanchine used in a number of his ballets. I know that the large full-length ballets are an issue for casting, since the number of Principal and solo roles are limited, but watching Nakamura made me long for them.

Doug spoke about how Petipa's era was Victorian, and bit about the conventions of the time, and how Balanchine's Apollo Pas de Deux broke those conventions; he also mentioned how Balanchine's experimental troupe, which performed the overhead lifts Balanchine devised that caused an uproar. Several times he noted that the partnering in both Petipa and Balanchine was open, and how the Russian style later developed with closer partnering conventions. I had always thought the openness was a temperamental preference on Balanchine's part, and didn't realize how much direct influence there had been.

Postlewaite might have been spared the decathalon, but Benjamin Griffiths was not. The last work on the program was Helgi Tomasson's great solo in Divertimento from Baiser de la Fee. Boal spoke about how as Tomasson was close to retirement, he taught Ib Andersen and two other dancers, including the 18-year-old Boal this solo. From Tomasson to Boal (who I'd never seen in it) to Griffiths; what a pedigree. I'd always heard this was one of the great solos for men; from the Fourth Ring of the New York State Theater, it never resonated for me. In the studio, as danced by Griffiths, it was breathtaking and, at the end, a complete heartbreaker.

One of the things that was striking about watching these dancers is that they can bear any critical scrutiny from ten feet away.

It was a wonderful and enlightening presentation.

And I got to meet Sandy McKean and his wife, which was a delight; he did not exaggerate a bit when he described her, and he is, indeed, a lucky fellow.

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The best thing about waiting to write here until after Helene has posted, is that I can just say

"what she said"

Doug F is really an exceptional dance history scholar -- able to analyze the structures of the work in a deep and thorough fashion, but present them very clearly, so that you see those connections naturally. This was a wonderfully rich evening, the compare/contrast nature of the programming was so smart and so graceful -- he made it very, very easy to be smart.

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Helene, you definitely make me wish I were there.

You in Seattle are so fortunate to have ballet people who care -- and THINK -- about these matters and know how to present and explain them to audiences.

It's an approach that ballet in America -- especially when it is involved in doing the job of preserving its heritage -- could use a great deal more of.

Congratulations to Doug Fullington and the dancers, and to Boal for caring enough to put the resources of the company behind this.

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I, too, am so grateful for your summation, Helene. Wish I'd been there, but since I wasn't, your post is a good second-best.

I imagine that, as valuable as this is to those who came to watch (and made them more astute audience members), the dancers involved have new insights into some of the works they dance, giving extra depth to their performances over time.

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Congratulations to Doug Fullington

Wow...after reading Helene's post, what can i say...It makes me want to get the first plane and move out of here...Yes, it's wonderful to have people like Doug doing this type of things. Again, i want to thank him for all that i've learned from his excelent posts and comments in BT.

THANK YOU DOUG !!! :bow:

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There was one important point that I forgot in my earlier post. When comparing the Pas de Trois from Paquita and Emeralds, Doug discussed how in Petipa, each section -- duo, trio, variation -- was set to a different piece of music, with a finite beginning and end, while Balanchine used one continuous piece of symphonic music. For someone whose primary ballet experience is Balanchine World, I had always taken for granted that all of his dance fits the music. What I had missed completely was an explicit understanding that he found a classical dance structure within symphonic music.

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I too was lucky enough to attend this session (thanks Doug, thanks too to Peter Boal for expending the resources, and to the dancers for giving their time).

Helene knows more about ballet in her little finger than I know in total, so I won't attempt to express what I saw factually, but I will express my reactions to the evening.

This was my first time attending an informal session in the PNB studios (PNB has a regular program called "$5 Fridays" where for $5 you can go to this studio to see excerpts from upcoming ballets in a rehearsal atmosphere -- but I have never attended). This program of Doug Fullerton's was a much bigger deal than a $5 Friday, but the venue is the same, and atmosphere very similar I suspect. I estimate there were 150, maybe 200, fans in attendance. Doug was the main presenter as he is PNB's primary "public educator". However, Peter Boal also attended the entire session; an excellent accompanist on the piano played; and 6 or 8 of PNB's finest dancers (more than half of which were principals).

I will leave the content to Helene's post. I will attempt to describe how it "felt". Frankly, it was a thrill to watch the dancers in a "rehearsal" environment (which I have rarely done). It is one thing to watch them perform; quite another to be able to also watch them as they "step off the stage into the wings". I got the biggest kick out of seeing someone like Carla Korbes "do her thing" as if she were on stage, but then at the conclusion of her dance, she walks away, hands on hips, in a natural stride, recovering her breath, just as I assume would happen in the wings on performance night. I was fascinated to watch the dancers watch each other as one by one they performed pieces that perhaps no one has seen in 100 years (since it took Doug's ability to decipher Stepanov's notation system to recreate them). They would laugh and joke with each other, or re-lace point shoes, or put on a tutu for the next demonstration. I felt I could detect a spirit of competition among the dancers, as well as a desire to be the one in the lime light at that moment; but also a sense of fun, family, and team, as they, like all of us in the room, appreciated the talent of the current dancer.

Another perspective was made possible because of one's proximity to the dancers as they performed. I'll never forget Benjamin Griffiths stopping just inches away from the 1 row of seats, perhaps 20 feet from me at a pause in his remarkable solo from Baiser de la Fee that Helene described. It was as if I were in HIS world.......his everyday world.

I was also energized by the fans in the room. Here were true balletomanes each and every one. Some ex-dancers (or so the lady next to me said she was), some children in the tow of their parents, all ages, all sizes, with only a love of ballet in common. It was like being on a bus load of kids going on a field trip to Disneyland.

Like I said, I won't attempt to express what I learned, but rest assured I learned a great deal. I came away with a far stronger sense of how Balachine took the greatness that already was, and extended it, twisted it, expanded it, broke its unquestioned rules; none of this done in a garish way, but in a evolutionary way, while at the same time being revolutionary. I've felt his genius many times before, but not with this clarity.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and love of dance Doug. It was a generous act......and it made a difference.

P.S. I greatly enjoyed meeting Helene at this session. She's as genuine in person as she is here on this board. Now, when I read her posts, I will see her lips moving!

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Frankly, it was a thrill to watch the dancers in a "rehearsal" environment (which I have rarely done). It is one thing to watch them perform; quite another to be able to also watch them as they "step off the stage into the wings". I got the biggest kick out of seeing someone like Carla Korbes "do her thing" as if she were on stage, but then at the conclusion of her dance, she walks away, hands on hips, in a natural stride, recovering her breath, just as I assume would happen in the wings on performance night. I was fascinated to watch the dancers watch each other as one by one they performed pieces that perhaps no one has seen in 100 years (since it took Doug's ability to decipher Stepanov's notation system to recreate them). They would laugh and joke with each other, or re-lace point shoes, or put on a tutu for the next demonstration. I felt I could detect a spirit of competition among the dancers, as well as a desire to be the one in the lime light at that moment; but also a sense of fun, family, and team, as they, like all of us in the room, appreciated the talent of the current dancer.

I've been thinking about this since Sandy first posted it. One of the oddest things about the experience was the realization that while we, the audience, could see backstage, the dancers could also see us!

I just finished reading Kyle Froman's new book, In the Wings: Behind the Scenes at the New York City Ballet, and in it he writes:

Because we can't see the audience, I sometimes imagine who's out there. Instead of dancing to blackness and stage lights, which is basically what we see, I think of the different types mixing in the house. I know there's always a group of students from the School of American Ballet, but I imagine society ladies dressed to the nines, young couples experiencing ballet for the first time, and devotees who've come for years....

Some come for the glamour of the evening, and others want to see sweat. Wherever these people have come from, their world is as exotic to us as ours is to them. Imagine wearing a suit and tie to work instead of tights. Wouldn't it be weird to wear one set of clothes all day instead of changing over and over. Do "normal" people worry how their feet are pointing?

So here were were, in a brightly-lit studio, caught staring at, for example, Benjamin Griffiths' hair, wondering how he made it look so different (and unplastered) for the Balanchine program, or the boys group, who could have been 10-year-olds, sitting self-conscious and huddled under the bar, their knees held against their chests, until they unfolded themselves, got up to dance, and proved themselves to be the 12-14-year old dancers they were.

While I don't know what they were thinking, seeing a small set of core audience, but I could imagine Peter Boal thinking, "I hope they're all signed up for the Reverence Society," and perhaps the dancers, "She left the house wearing that?" or "He's kind of cute," or "She reminds me of my aunt," or "Isn't there someone under 50 in the room besides us?" But whatever they were thinking, there was little mystery left :flowers:

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