MJ

Stories that should be a Ballet

160 posts in this topic

Oh, just FYI, for the big numbers (1812 Overture, Piano Concerto #1, Romeo & Juliet) it would be the recognizable themes. It wouldn't be the entire concerto or symphony, etc. except for obviously #6.

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Did a little revision.

So I'm sitting around one day, bored, and decide to listen to a new piece of music by my favorite composer, Pytor Ilych Tchaikovsky. The piece: his sixth symphony, or simply The Pathétique. So, I'm listening to this wonderfully haunting piece that does not go along with the "traditional" symphony structure, that being starting out with a problem and ending with a celebratory, triumphant finale. Instead, it ends almost mourning. And then inspiration struck. As I thought, I came up with a startiling conclusion: that each of the four movements to the symphony read perfectly like an autobiography written by Tchaikovsky himself. It was his life in a symphony. Going from meager beginnings to one of the most recognized composers in the western world and then, tragedy. Dead at the age of 53, whether by Cholera or suicide (forced by a "court of honors" or done on his on will). No matter how he died, the music he left us is inspirational, moving, emotional, and at times, echoes our own life stories. This is the basis of what inspired the ballet. Using some of Tchaikovsky's most famous and well-known pieces including The Pathétique, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, 1812 Overture, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture as well as his first piano concerto, this ballet tells the story of Tchaikovsky's life. Let me know what you think.

1. Act I

a. Overture

i. First two minutes of Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture

b. Prologue: Tchaikovsky’s childhood

i. Symphony #6 Pathétique 1st Movement

c. Scene I: The decision to become a Composer

i. Piano Concerto #1 in B-flat minor

d. Scene II: Tchaikovsky’s first Ballet

i. Swan Lake Act II Scene I

e. Scene III: A Romantic (Composer) for the Ages

i. Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture

f. Scene IV: The Tsar’s Great Commission

i. 1812 Overture

g. Scene V: Rising to the top

i. Symphony #6 Pathétique 2nd Movement

2. Act II

a. Entr’acte

i. Symphony #6 Pathétique 3rd Movement

b. Scene I: "A charming fairy tale come true."

i. Sleeping Beauty Medley

c. Scene II: The Magic of Christmas

i. Overture/March

ii. Drosselmeyer's Spell/The Battle against the Mouse King

iii. Journey to the Land of Snow

iv. Waltz of the Snowflakes

3. Act III

a. Entr’acte

i. Journey to the Land of Sweets

b. Scene I

i. Arrival of Nutcracker and Clara

ii. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

iii. Coda

iv. Divertissement Medley

v. Waltz of the Flowers

vi. Final Waltz

vii. Grand Pas de deux

c. Scene II: The Pathétique Symphony

i. Symphony #6 Pathétique 4th Movement

d. Scene III: Death of Tchaikovsky

i. Themes from Symphony #6 Pathétique 1st Movement

e. Scene IV: Funeral/Apotheosis

i. Beginning/Ending of Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture

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http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/22/business/media/22beber.html?_r=1&ref=obituaries

I didn't know about Ms. Beber, who was quite obviously an advertising genius, which is not something I'd ordinarily say. But those ads which ran all the way up to Leona's incarceration were quite extraordinary, weirdly exotic, this 'the only hotel in the world where the Queen holds court', which made Leona a kind of sex symbol in her 60s and 70s (not that it always worked, of course, and not too difficult to see why). There was a TV movie with Suzanne Pleshette which was made just before Helmsley's imprisonment which caught very little of the strangeness of this difficult character, but there was one moment, at a hotel opening, when Suzanne and her 'Harry' broke into a dance which was almost exactly out of one of the Helmsley Palace ads.

I found this obit very full of colour and sensation, and the interview Beber had with Mrs. Helmsley is so suffocating you get the full picture of someone almost totally artificial:

"Before meeting Mrs. Helmsley, Ms. Beber said, she was told to follow Disraelis advice on talking to Queen Victoria: When it comes to flattery, lay it on with a trowel.

So she did. In the midst of Ms. Bebers assiduously obsequious interview, Mrs. Helmsley complained about flimsy towels and commiserated with a former guest by phone about a noisy air-conditioner. Inspiration struck: Queen Leona ruled her kingdom with an iron fist to benefit guests."

Commiserated with a former guest by phone about a noisy AC? Now that's about as over-the-top as you can get.

At first it was difficult to imagine Mrs. Helmsley en pointe, but I think there are plenty of Nina Ananiashvili lookalikes that might be able to do this--tall, svelte angelic types and legendary muses need not apply.

I think this offers one easily accessed tableau after another, and the best fictional heroes and heroines are not necessarily sympathetic. Leona definitely is not, and she wasn't worried about it. I do think Ms. Beber is Pluck Incarnate though, and I was glad to hear of her.

What it reminds me of is 'Mayerling' most immediately, but it would be much better than that. Even a bit of delicacy wouldn't hurt, there's enough viciousness already built-in, so that lightening it up would hardly even show.

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Did a little revision.

So I'm sitting around one day, bored, and decide to listen to a new piece of music by my favorite composer, Pytor Ilych Tchaikovsky. The piece: his sixth symphony, or simply The Pathétique. So, I'm listening to this wonderfully haunting piece that does not go along with the "traditional" symphony structure, that being starting out with a problem and ending with a celebratory, triumphant finale. Instead, it ends almost mourning. And then inspiration struck. As I thought, I came up with a startiling conclusion: that each of the four movements to the symphony read perfectly like an autobiography written by Tchaikovsky himself. It was his life in a symphony. Going from meager beginnings to one of the most recognized composers in the western world and then, tragedy. Dead at the age of 53, whether by Cholera or suicide (forced by a "court of honors" or done on his on will). No matter how he died, the music he left us is inspirational, moving, emotional, and at times, echoes our own life stories. This is the basis of what inspired the ballet. Using some of Tchaikovsky's most famous and well-known pieces including The Pathétique, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, 1812 Overture, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture as well as his first piano concerto, this ballet tells the story of Tchaikovsky's life. Let me know what you think.

1. Act I

a. Overture

i. First two minutes of Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture

b. Prologue: Tchaikovsky’s childhood

i. Symphony #6 Pathétique 1st Movement

c. Scene I: The decision to become a Composer

i. Piano Concerto #1 in B-flat minor

d. Scene II: Tchaikovsky’s first Ballet

i. Swan Lake Act II Scene I

e. Scene III: A Romantic (Composer) for the Ages

i. Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture

f. Scene IV: The Tsar’s Great Commission

i. 1812 Overture

g. Scene V: Rising to the top

i. Symphony #6 Pathétique 2nd Movement

2. Act II

a. Entr’acte

i. Symphony #6 Pathétique 3rd Movement

b. Scene I: "A charming fairy tale come true."

i. Sleeping Beauty Medley

c. Scene II: The Magic of Christmas

i. Overture/March

ii. Drosselmeyer's Spell/The Battle against the Mouse King

iii. Journey to the Land of Snow

iv. Waltz of the Snowflakes

3. Act III

a. Entr’acte

i. Journey to the Land of Sweets

b. Scene I

i. Arrival of Nutcracker and Clara

ii. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

iii. Coda

iv. Divertissement Medley

v. Waltz of the Flowers

vi. Final Waltz

vii. Grand Pas de deux

c. Scene II: The Pathétique Symphony

i. Symphony #6 Pathétique 4th Movement

d. Scene III: Death of Tchaikovsky

i. Themes from Symphony #6 Pathétique 1st Movement

e. Scene IV: Funeral/Apotheosis

i. Beginning/Ending of Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture

You know, tchaikovskyfan, the more I think about it the more I like it. We would try to avoid "The Music Lovers" on pointe but there are episodes in Tchaikovsky's life that could be danced. Boris Eifman, take it away....

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You know, tchaikovskyfan, the more I think about it the more I like it. We would try to avoid "The Music Lovers" on pointe but there are episodes in Tchaikovsky's life that could be danced. Boris Eifman, take it away....

Well, if Roland Petit could do it for Proust .... why not? I'd take a long, hard look at Ken 's Russell's film to get an idea of how NOT to handle the Tchaikovsky story. :wink:

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I have nothing to add to the Tchaikovsky conversation, except that it reminded me of one of my favorite musical mash-ups: the "magic fire music" from the end of Wagner's Die Walkure followed by the Panorama from Act 2 of Sleeping Beauty. (The pertinent bit of Wagner excerpted in Wagner without Words, that amazing old George Szell recording, works well for this.) So, I guess that could be a separate thread: Favorite Musical Mash-ups?

In terms of a story that could (not sure about should) be a ballet, I'm thinking about all of the operas and musical works concerned with the intersection of/competition between words and music--Beethoven's 9th, and operas of Richard Strauss, to name two. Could a ballet be built, analogously, around the competing pleasures of narrative X abstraction in dance? Dance to music X dance w/out?

I suppose Balanchine explores the narrative X abstraction theme in a way in Midsummer.

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I recently finished reading Amanda Stuart's book, "Consuelo & Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter and a Mother in the Gilded Age". With all the drama, thwarted romance, doomed marriages, etc. among this mega rich family, it sounds like a compelling story for a ballet.

I'd cast Lucia Lacarra as Consuelo. :thumbsup:

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I recently finished reading Amanda Stuart's book, "Consuelo & Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter and a Mother in the Gilded Age". With all the drama, thwarted romance, doomed marriages, etc. among this mega rich family, it sounds like a compelling story for a ballet.

I'd cast Lucia Lacarra as Consuelo. :thumbsup:

Interesting idea, MakarovaFan. Yes, poor Consuelo's story was certainly dramatic. The gilded clothing of the gilded age might present challenges, but none that couldn't be overcome, I'd think.

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I hope this hasn't been mentioned before. But ... how about a ballet based on Virginia Woolf's strange, rather surrealistic novel, Orlando? The title role requires someone who can dance as a man(boy) and also as a woman, in the course of a single work.

My thought was that this could be danced on one evening by a woman (Tilda Swinton performed the part in the film) and on the next evening by a man.

Something like this would seem to be right up the alley of the Paris Opera Ballet (home of such works as Caligula, Clavigo, and the Proust ballet, les Intermittences du Coeur.

P.S. This came up in another thread devoted to the Trocks, but I thought it might be intresting to repeat it here.

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I hope this hasn't been mentioned before. But ... how about a ballet based on Virginia Woolf's strange, rather surrealistic novel, Orlando? The title role requires someone who can dance as a man(boy) and also as a woman, in the course of a single work.

My thought was that this could be danced on one evening by a woman (Tilda Swinton performed the part in the film) and on the next evening by a man.

Something like this would seem to be right up the alley of the Paris Opera Ballet (home of such works as Caligula, Clavigo, and the Proust ballet, les Intermittences du Coeur.

P.S. This came up in another thread devoted to the Trocks, but I thought it might be intresting to repeat it here.

Interesting as usual Bart. Glad to see you still fighting the good fight! I am also gratified to see how the idea of "appropriate" topics for a contemporary story ballet has also been freed up from where it was stuck a few years ago

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I've been having fantasies of ABT doing Philadelphia Story as a ballet with Marcelo Gomes in the Cary Grant role, Gillian Murphy in the Katherine Hepburn and Sascha Radetsky as the Jimmy Stewart character. I'd like to see Ratmansky try something with an "all-American" setting.

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I would love a ballet version of Bellini's opera Norma. It is my favorite opera next to Wagner's Ring. 4 major principals (Norma, Adalgisa, Pollione, Oroveso), a love triangle, Druids including priestesses and Romans (for the corps). The scene in which Norma learns her friend and junior priestess Adalgisa is her rival would make a GREAT moment. One of the most thrilling scenes in all of opera, in my opinion, and I bet it would make a great ballet scene too.

Bellini has operas that are very rarely played, so music could be taken from his other operas along with some music from the actual opera. Or a whole new score could be created.

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Birdsall, I love the idea of Norma becoming a ballet!

And I'd like to add a hearty +1 for style to any and all suggestions derived from Jacques Demy films or set in the precincts of the Alhambra.

My own imaginary ballet hasn't quite come together yet in my mind; but it involves elaborate sets, extravagant costumes, a simple sentimental story (I think a novel would be too much to convey in dance), and all the other hallmarks of my rather unsophisticated taste.

There are three acts, each set in a different time period, and perhaps each the work of a different choreographer. The score should be by the same composer, though, to give it a bit of stylistic unity, and so that themes can be developed in the first two acts which will come into full flower in the third, i.e. people will know when to start sniffling.

The love story is a little bit inspired by Ivor Novello's Perchance to Dream. The characters are essentially the same all the way through, and are portrayed by the same dancers -- they're either ancestors and descendants, or reincarnations, it's never made clear. The audience can pick their own interpretation, according to taste.

In the first two acts, the lovers take turns sacrificing love for the sake of duty or a greater good (I think this is the best way to have the audience rooting for them), and -- this is important -- for reasons easily portrayable in mime. Perhaps in one act the lady finds out that her gentleman friend's previous lady friend is expecting, and turns away from him so that he can marry the mother of his child. Perhaps in the other act the gentleman is of lower birth and/or a frightful roué and just can't let the lady throw herself away on him (distaff Marguerite and Armand).

Then, in the third act, you can imagine. They meet in a time and place in which, at last, the barriers to their love are surmountable. Cue extended wedding pas de deux.

There would also be lots of Fred Stepping.

/end fantasy

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This is definitely an interesting thread! Since I have been ballet, I have often caught myself thinking "now how would this story be as a ballet?" when reading a novel, listening to a song that tells a story or even when hearing about a legend.

I really like bart's idea on this page regarding 'Orlando'! I think it would be rather interesting not only with regards to what the novel has to offer in content but also regarding bart's suggestion of it being danced by a woman one evening and a man next.

Because I am quite new to this place, I will have to read a bit more through the pages in order to know what has been suggested so that I do not repeat myself.

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This is a fun topic! Lots of fun suggestions. Ok, here are two ideas I've had for a long time.

1. A ballet set to Dvorak's Slavonic Dances. Not sure if it would be plotless or tell a story or be a loose sketch, I'd have to listen to them again, but whenever I hear them on the radio, I immediately hear the dancing and start visualizing how a ballet with that music would look . 2. A ballet called Ballet for Youth set to the recorded music of Cat Stevens. It would be danced by ballet students and would celebrate teenagers, their energies, fresh outlooks, etc., but also express the challenges 21st c. teens face.

Also, choreography to Eric Satie's gymnopedie and other pieces of his. And Mozart's 3rd violin concerto.

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Also, choreography to Eric Satie's gymnopedie and other pieces of his.

Have you ever seen the Ashton ballets, Monotones I and II?

Here are some YouTube links:

The Metropolitan Opera did a triple bill in the '80's: the ballet was Eric Satie's "Parade.". It wasn't very good, but the original was written for and produced by Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes, with choreography by Massine and sets by Picasso.

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Thank you, AlbanyGirl, for your suggestion of Satie. And thank you, thank you, thank you, Helene, for those links to Ashton's Monotones. (Unfortunately I could link only to Monotones II, not Monotones I. helpsmilie.gif )

It's always interesting to recall that Monotones II (to Trois Gymnopedies) was created written before Monotones I. (to Trois Gnossiennes). Would love to have the chance to see the Gnossiennes from the same staging as your Monotones II. The black background and black, light-reflecting floor are marvelous.

When I was a student, I had an lp recording of original piano settings of both the Gymnopedies and the Gnossiennes. (Debussy, I believe, did the orchestrations later on.) I listened to this recording obsessively. It was impossible not to imagine dancers as I listened. I saw planets moving through space -- strange sea creatures pulsing through the water.

It was a gift from the ballet gods when I found, a few years later, that the Royal Ballet was performing just such a work on its New York City program. The imagery was similar, but the steps of course were infinitely more eery and precise than my imaginings. A decade or so later, the Joffrey revived both parts of Monotones a part of a triple bill. What a time it was to be watching ballet in New York City.

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The Metropolitan Opera did a triple bill in the '80's: the ballet was Eric Satie's "Parade.". It wasn't very good, but the original was written for and produced by Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes, with choreography by Massine and sets by Picasso.

I was always sorry I missed the Met's production, just to have seen what Veredon did with it. Robert Joffrey got Massine to restage Parade for the company in the 1970s, and it was one of the first worked broadcast on the Dance in America series. I don't know how close to the original it was, but the version I saw was great fun. Moses Pendleton (of Pilobolus) made a new version of Relache for the company in the 80s, but I don't know if he made much use of the earlier production by Jean Borlin.

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Thank you, AlbanyGirl, for your suggestion of Satie. And thank you, thank you, thank you, Helene, for those links to Ashton's Monotones.

Yes -- I love them both!

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Reading through this thread, I had two immediate thoughts: Little Women and Oliver Twist. (although I liked the Harry Potter and Star Wars ideas mentioned earlier. angel_not.gif )

For a long time, though, I've had a fantasy about doing a ballet loosely based on the creation of the universe and solar system (or perhaps just a tour of the solar system) to Holst's The Planets and (at the beginning) Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathrusta. I can see a corps of dancers recreating the idea of orbits and chaos; the sun and Saturn's rings.....along with some comet and meteor solos!

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I wonder, though, what dancer would want to portray a massive round object.

Reading through this thread, I had two immediate thoughts: Little Women and Oliver Twist. (although I liked the Harry Potter and Star Wars ideas mentioned earlier. angel_not.gif )

For a long time, though, I've had a fantasy about doing a ballet loosely based on the creation of the universe and solar system (or perhaps just a tour of the solar system) to Holst's The Planets and (at the beginning) Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathrusta. I can see a corps of dancers recreating the idea of orbits and chaos; the sun and Saturn's rings.....along with some comet and meteor solos!

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I wonder, though, what dancer would want to portray a massive round object.

Reading through this thread, I had two immediate thoughts: Little Women and Oliver Twist. (although I liked the Harry Potter and Star Wars ideas mentioned earlier. angel_not.gif )

For a long time, though, I've had a fantasy about doing a ballet loosely based on the creation of the universe and solar system (or perhaps just a tour of the solar system) to Holst's The Planets and (at the beginning) Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathrusta. I can see a corps of dancers recreating the idea of orbits and chaos; the sun and Saturn's rings.....along with some comet and meteor solos!

It sounds like it would make a fabulous court ballet, though!

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I wonder, though, what dancer would want to portray a massive round object.

Reading through this thread, I had two immediate thoughts: Little Women and Oliver Twist. (although I liked the Harry Potter and Star Wars ideas mentioned earlier. angel_not.gif )

For a long time, though, I've had a fantasy about doing a ballet loosely based on the creation of the universe and solar system (or perhaps just a tour of the solar system) to Holst's The Planets and (at the beginning) Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathrusta. I can see a corps of dancers recreating the idea of orbits and chaos; the sun and Saturn's rings.....along with some comet and meteor solos!

It sounds like it would make a fabulous court ballet, though!

Yes! And quite the antithesis of Monotones.

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Thank you, AlbanyGirl, for your suggestion of Satie. And thank you, thank you, thank you, Helene, for those links to Ashton's Monotones. (Unfortunately I could link only to Monotones II, not Monotones I.)

The second link is coming up for me, but it's mis-labelled. It's actually another, poorer quality video of "Monotones II" with a different cast.

I've always loved the Gnoissiennes more than the Gymnopedies.

When I was a student, I had an lp recording of original piano settings of both the Gymnopedies and the Gnossiennes.

I think I wore out the same LP.

http://plade-klassikeren.dk/popup_image.php?pID=904699&osCsid=838bfe268071d25db4cc1677a5788ef1

I wonder, though, what dancer would want to portray a massive round object.

From the exuberance with which these characters embraced Thomas Lund the other night, I think there would be takers:

Lucien Postlewaite talked about being careful about his diet before dancing "Apollo": he described the costume as "floss.". Playing a planet would be more forgiving :)

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