Oral historyWhat do you ask?
Posted 18 November 2007 - 09:59 AM
After a period of prodding people for recollections, I found it very interesting what I wanted to know.
I'm a details man. I want to know what was happening, when it happened, who was involved. I found something similar at tapings of the Balanchine Foundation Tapings. When Arthur Mitchell was busy spinning another captivating yarn (he is a great raconteur) I'd raise my hand and say, "Who set the ballet on the company?"
Posted 19 November 2007 - 05:46 AM
Posted 19 November 2007 - 09:23 AM
Those are always very interesting views, like in the "Ballet Russes" film, when Mme. Baronova's friend -(Tamara Tchinara?)-talks about the use of the batteries back then, and how neglected these steps are being treated nowadays.
You hear many older dancers saying of a ballet "That's not the way we danced it back then."
Posted 19 November 2007 - 10:22 AM
I always thought I'd asked the "right" questions, and then, after having spoken with two other people, I'd realize I hadn't asked what I needed to, or needed to clarify. I was lucky to be able to clarify, either going back to the original victim or asking the 5 "control people' who were very generous, and allowed me to check in with them about every 2 weeks and say, "X says this, and Y says that, and they're completely different. What do you think?"
It also took me awhile to learn that there are times when something -- a step sequence, blocking, a matter of style, something that I considered major -- was considered unimportant, while another change -- a minute change -- would be considered anathema. Having had the opportunity to compare those answers gave me a much deeper understanding of what that company considered important -- which helped shape later questions.
I have to say when reading several of the new hyperdetailed biographies published in the past three years, I'm disappointed that some are compendiums of contrasting quotations, with no effort made by the author to sort them out. If someone says something provocative, even if it doesn't make sense in context, or seems to be a real stretch in credibility, in it goes. For oral history, I guess that's okay. The point is to make a collection of raw tapes. But for print, I think there should be some attempt to find out what really happened.
Posted 20 November 2007 - 04:22 AM
Marie-Jeanne is setting the original version of Concerto Barocco on SAB students and she becomes increasingly upset at how lyrical and flowing the girls dance it. She explains it should be much more compact and jazzy. These insights are priceless.
How true, how true. Perhaps it's because dancers were more 'compact' then. Having been introduced to the ballet by the performances of Marie-Jeanne, Mary Ellen Moylan, Ruthanna Boris and Patricia Wilde the long-limbed dancers give it a very different look. Also, the white costumes (as opposed to the black leotard) make it more lyrical.
Posted 20 November 2007 - 04:26 AM
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