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PNB Co-Presents "Balanchine's Petipa"October 5, 6-7:30 at the Phelps Center


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#16 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 02:25 PM

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:

#17 Helene

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 05:42 PM

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.

#18 SandyMcKean

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 01:59 PM

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!

#19 Helene

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 09:19 PM

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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