Gorey's "Lavender Leotard" and the NYCB mentality:some questions about the NYCB allusions
Posted 26 October 2007 - 05:16 AM
Posted 26 October 2007 - 06:22 AM
Yes, it was Bruhn. Arlene Croce also wrote about that moment, explaining why Balanchine subsequently made the choreography tamer and safer.
Posted 26 October 2007 - 02:35 PM
Posted 29 October 2007 - 12:37 PM
The volume includes many interviews (from this famously, but apparently incorrectly, uncommunicative person). I love Gorey's vision and his work in bits and pieces. It sems a bit constricted, however, when you look at it as the basis a life-time's oeuvre encompassing decades. The key influences and obsessions seem to have come into place very early in his life and not changed very much thereafter. It does take an obsessive to attend EVERY performance of the New York City Ballet for so many years, but Gorey explains why he does it and almost convinces me that the effort was worth while.
The first interview in Wilkin volume begins with a rather touching vignette:
Several of the interviews (with Anna Kisselgoff and Tobie Tobias) include statements explaining the advantages of attending multiple performances of the same ballets, even when you don't particularly like the ballet.
His favorite dancers as of the early 70s were Diana Adams and Patricia McBridge. He considered Balanchine the single greatest genius whose work he knew.
Posted 29 October 2007 - 02:53 PM
Re Balanchine 'liking' people to fall. Believe me, no one, Balanchine or otherwise, liked seeing people fall. They got injured and caused casting problems. It also unsettled the audience and distracted their attention. What Balanchine liked was dancers going all-out and giving everything they had, with full energy and commitment. "What are you saving it for?" was his response to over-caution and low energy.
Posted 29 October 2007 - 03:19 PM
Posted 29 October 2007 - 03:48 PM
So he wasn't overly fond of Firebird, Swan Lake, and Western Symphony -- who would have imagined? I read somewhere that over the years he sat out more and more ballets. Can anyone who attended regularly back then speak to that? Was it, as this quote would indicate, particular ballets, even Balanchine ballets, that he would decline to see? Was he just bored? Did he not want inferior casts to mar cherished memories?
Posted 29 October 2007 - 06:39 PM
Gorey's talent lay in the ability to delve deeply, obsessively, and with a powerful sense of irony and the macbre, into the darker side of life, while using what was essentially a small art form. For some reason, I saw a connection when I read a review recently -- in the NY Review of Books -- of the work of a 19th-century writer working in an entirely different genre. Fellix Feneon, an art critic, published, in the French press in the decade before World War One, over 1,000 exceptionally brief stories describing real events that were often grotesque or wierdly tragic. These "nouvelles en trois lignes" (short stories in 3 lines) were brilliantly compressed and followed rules of composition almost as rigid as haiku.
Here's a link to the review, unfortunately without the photo: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/20732
Posted 29 October 2007 - 07:07 PM
Posted 30 October 2007 - 11:35 AM
He wasn't mad about Robbins either, and quickly had enough of Dances at a Gathering, In the Night and the others - he really disliked Robbins' musical sense as I remember. There were certainly Balanchine works he disliked, and it could take him a season or so to decide if he liked a new ballet, but aside from obvious horrors like PAMTGG and Electronics, I don't remember which particular Balanchine ballets he didn't care for. As for Western Symphony and such, it was less dislike than being very tired of them. We all were. It took a spectacular cast to get a number of fans to watch the umpteenth Western, Stars, etc.
And Balanchine tinkered constantly, which could be annoying enough to cause some colorful Ted-bursts. Firebird was one of the worst - Mr. B couldn't leave it alone, although I thought the production with Von Aroldingen decked out in big white wings was pretty hilarious. She looked like a prehistoric flying dinosauer out for prey. Gorey was not amused. He was fussy about casting, but usually watched unless it was someone he truly couldn't stand, like Mimi Paul.
To change the subject - Helene, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply that you thought Mr. B enjoyed people falling and getting hurt. But I think it was something he was more cautious about than you may believe. Melinda Roy's story on the Balanchine Celebration tape is perhaps the only one I remember in which he praised a dancer for actually falling. If you know others, it would be nice to know the story and the dancer involved. My impression, both at the time, and from what I've read since, is that Balanchine was of two minds. He would change choreography (like SS) that had proved dangerous, or that a dancer had real trouble doing, but that he wanted a full, all-out expenditure of energy and commitment. And while he may not have been effusive he did have ways of letting dancers know that they had done well. If books are a source, then Mazo's Dance Is a Contact Sport is pretty clear both that his dancers loved Balanchine and that they got injured at a terrible rate. It was Robbins who was the company bete-noire, apparently.
Posted 30 October 2007 - 12:00 PM
Posted 30 October 2007 - 12:08 PM
i think b/c he often slipped out of the first ring, where he liked to perch on one of the side stairs, w/o sometimes waiting for curtain calls to be over, he might seem to have sat out the ballet altogether, but he really didn't sit out that very much.
he stopped coming to every perf. only when he left town, initially b/c his mother wasn't well on cape cod where he would spend his summers but then where he would spend some ballet season time b/c of her needs.
so far as i can recall he had every subsubscription to NYCB seasons and would buy the non-sub. perfs at the box office.
true, he had strong likes & dislikes, who doesn't? and he thought for himself; no one else's high or low opinion of any work or any dancer could alter his own thinking. (he's not the only one i know who wasn't taken w/ mozartiana - a writer friend once proposed doing an article about why she failed to admire the work, but in the end i don't think ever published such a piece.)
i know from real experience that when any of his friends tried to convince him to miss a perf. here or there to say, see a movie, his reply to such a suggestion would invariably be: well, i have this ballet ticket, see... and....
sometimes charles france woud really twist his arm to blow off a perf. but not often.
Posted 30 October 2007 - 11:18 PM
it hardly seems an oversimplification to say that Duchamp brought this ideal to New York, planted it , and it took root. Remy Charlip''s dances work in a vein like this (not to mention his rewrite of Hamlet, "Young Omelettte," which is like walking on eggshells....), and on a grander scale, works like the fabulous "Antic Meet" of of Merce Cunningham. Satie seems to be the patron saint of them all, and HE had -- what was it, 10 suits of pearl-grey velvet, which was the only costume in which he ever appeared in public?
Posted 03 November 2007 - 06:42 PM
- The ones on the big diagonal in 3rd Movement Symphony in C. They now merely sissonne lifts.
- The ones in Second Movement Brahms, which used to be so thrilling. The man would toss the woman and then catch her in a back-bending swoon. Gorgeous moments which are still lovely, even only a shadow of its intended effect.
- The ones in Monumentum pro Gesualdo.
- The ones in Agon's second pas de trois still has some oomph, but are veering dangerously in the direction of pass-off.
I am pretty sure that the tosses are still in Monumentum pro Gesualdo....
I think the "feather" cartoon refers to Firebird, as the feather is essential to his being rescued from Katschei. Most of the costumes in the cartoons (for example "La Valse" with the glove) seem to be pretty right on....though I am not as familiar with many of these ballets as YOU guys!!!! Sigh.....
I am going to have to learn how to navigate and explore this site much better.... when the new "Lavender Leotard" came out in Ballet Review, I posted a quick note in a Forum (don't recall which one) to alert people about this little treasure. Not only did no one reply, but until today, I never found THIS fun thread!!
Posted 03 November 2007 - 07:15 PM
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