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John Neumeier


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#1 innopac

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Posted 09 December 2007 - 12:31 PM

Watching the POB dvd of John Neumeier's Sylvia the other night it struck me that his choreography celebrates a real love of movement and the body. And he is so connected to the music. I wondered if dancers feel that when they perform his ballets.

For me Neumeier's choreography expresses beautifully and sensitively the human condition with its many, often conflicting, emotional and psychological levels.

Does anyone else feel this way? I find it interesting that on BT there really isn't much discussion of his choreography and works.

#2 kahoyo

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Posted 23 May 2009 - 11:31 AM

And he is so connected to the music. I wondered if dancers feel that when they perform his ballets.

For me Neumeier's choreography expresses beautifully and sensitively the human condition with its many, often conflicting, emotional and psychological levels.

Does anyone else feel this way? I find it interesting that on BT there really isn't much discussion of his choreography and works.


Last evening I watched Neumeier's Romeo & Juliet by The Royal Danish Ballet at Ueno, Tokyo, and I was really disappointed. :wink:

The sets were unique and silhouettes were beautiful, but his use of music was simply that of the plotless contemporary dances; the ballet was far from persuasive compared with R&J of John Cranko. Having also watched his Die Kleine Meerjungfrau, I've come up with the conclusion that Neumeier simply doesn't understand music as Ashton and MacMillan (and maybe Bintley) did. I hope somebody tells him that fine sets and bunch of "contemporary dances" wouldn't make good ballets. The right selection and correct intrepretation of music does.

#3 Brioche

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Posted 23 May 2009 - 11:46 AM

I hope somebody tells him that fine sets and bunch of "contemporary dances" wouldn't make good ballets. The right selection and correct intrepretation of music does.


After 36 years as the Artistic Director at Hamburg Ballet, I can't imagine there is a whole lot any of us good "tell" Mr. Neumeier. The man has a huge repertoire of choreography and a devoted following in Hamburg. :wink:

#4 Alymer

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 01:27 AM

"I've come up with the conclusion that Neumier simply doesn't understand music as Ashton and MacMillan (and maybe Bintley) did."


I'm not a great fan of Neumier's Sylvia and I haven't seen his Romeo, though I have enjoyed many of his other ballets. But I'm intrigued by Kahoyo's comment, quoted above, as it's always seemed to me that Ashton and MacMillan have a very different musicality. I would never have put them together so perhaps Kahoyo can explain further.

#5 EAW

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 03:39 AM

I haven't seen any choreography by Neumeier that I would describe as either musical or expressive. His ballets have a certain "attitude" and can give dancers a good workout, I guess, but poetic experiences they ain't. I haven't seen his Sylvia and cringe at the thought, but I'd give it a try if I could.

#6 kahoyo

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 11:01 AM

But I'm intrigued by Kahoyo's comment, quoted above, as it's always seemed to me that Ashton and MacMillan have a very different musicality. I would never have put them together so perhaps Kahoyo can explain further.


It's just that they knew what constituted good ballets, what moved the audience, even with diffrerent musicalities. I can at least say MacMillan's Manon, performed by the Royal Ballet in 2005 at Tokyo was fairly impressive. The girl sitting next me was shedding tears when Manon died in Act 3.

The question I want to ask is, for instance, did Ashton or MacMillan ever allow thier company to perform with recorded music, as Neumeier frequently does with his Hamburg Ballet? Does Neumeier really know the good from the bad concerning music?

For the record here is why I didn't like his R&J (performed by the Royal Danish Ballet, May 23 2009, at Tokyo):
1. Group dances of Act 1 and Act 2 were too "contemporary" (and thus became easily obsolete 38 years after the production), and their contributions to the narration of the story were almost none.
2. Neumeier altered Prokofiev's music Dance of the Knights of Act1, the most famous part of R&J, with its ending meaninglessly prolonged. He was audacious enough to challenge the Prokofiev's original score and the result was just a disaster.
3. Neumeier loves to open the stage curtain with no music at all, and did again in Act 3 of his R&J. He may claim it is based on his study of Noh, but it wasn't impressive to me. It is, after all, a denial of the role of the music.
4. (This may be a fault of Nikolaj Hübbe, the director of RDB) In Act 2, the orchestra stopped playing and the Dance of the mandolins was performed with recorded music. Hübbe might have thought that the audience of Tokyo were deaf and they would not realize such trick.
5. (also likely to be a fault of Hübbe) They dropped confetti and hand-clapped (to self-applause) in Napoli a week ago, and they did the same in Remeo and Juliets. I wonder if such procedures were commonly used in the good tradition of ballet. Once might be tolerable, but when it came twice, it just stinked.

So it looks to me as if Neumeier were attempting to become Hegel or Marx of the ballet history, and Hübbe delightfully played his role as Lenin. (Napoli was fine, though.)

#7 leonid17

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 03:39 PM

When the Paris Opera Ballet brought Neumeier's "Dream" to London, I was shocked that there was such a theatrical choreographer around and simply amazed by the performance of the dancing and acting of the company. It was received with extraordinary warmth by a seasoned audience.

#8 Alymer

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 12:59 AM

Yes Leonid, I remember those performances by the Paris Opera Ballet too. Wonderful dancing and thoroughly inventive choreography. But to take up Kahoyo's point, I think the barrel organ music used for the scenes with the rustics was recorded - but presumably it had to be as you can hardly tour one of those huge barrel organs.

I don't think either Ashton or MacMillan used recordings - but then they didin't have to as they worked largely within an opera house with a resident orchestra. During the war the then Sadler's Wells ballet danced to two pianos.

However, I have on occasion been at performances of Romeo and Juliet by smaller companies where the Mandolin Dance was recorded and always assumed that this was because there were no experienced mandolin players available.

Kahoyo, with regard to your final point about the dancers appearing to applaud themselves; I think you may find that the dancers were applauding the audience and that this is traditional in Denmark and some other countries. My memory is hazey and I'm sure someone on this board will correct me if I'm wrong, but I suspect it was a politesse on their part. And I do remember often seeing showers of confetti at the end of Napoli, so this too is a tradition.

#9 volcanohunter

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 02:53 PM

Here's a German television profile of Neumeier.

http://www.rtlregion...yer.php?id=8810

#10 Nanarina

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 06:37 AM

:clapping: I like John Neumeier's choreography a lot, although I have not seen all of it, what I have witnessed I enjoy. There are some works like his Mahler sympnony that may not be appealing to me, as I prefer costume ballets, rather than those just in what could be considered practice clothes. He explains his reasons for using steps to create a characters role, which can be different to the norm,on the bonus with the Sylvia DVD, which you need to watch more than once to reconise what the gestures and mime represent. He speaks in great detail about the use of Delibes wonderful music in the production.

His Le dame aux Camellia's, originally created with Marcia Heydee, is truly wonderful, I saw it in Paris, with Agnes Letestu and Stephane Builon, and I was so touched it made me cry. However, the best portrayal was by Aorelie Dupont, and there were some clips on YouTube with her and Manuel Legris. There are some equistite Pas der deux's, with lifts that almost take your breath away. The final meeting when Marguerite comes back momentarily to Armand, known as "The Black Dress Pas de Deux" which some of the dancerfs call "Pas de Trois or Dance for Three !!!" is very passionate, full of emotion and quite explicit, it shows fully the love of the two characters, their despair, their longing. And it fits perfectly with the music, as does the whole ballet.


I consider John Neumeier to be equal to John Cranko, Kenneth MacMillan, Sir Fred Ashton and Graeme Murphy, taking each of their methods and productions at their own value. Their styles are different, but they have made a great contribution to the repertoire of Ballet.

#11 lsu

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 08:27 AM

I will be watching a Neumeier production of Nutcracker by the Dresden SempOper Ballet on Christmas Day. The storyline is very different than what I have seen in the past and I don't really know what to expect. I am a ballet mom, never a dancer and discussions of choreography just fly over my head. All I know is that if the choreography or the dancer moves me, then I feel like I have gotten more than my money's worth. I can't tell if it is the choreography or the dancer's interpretation of the choreography that is the thing that moves me though. :clapping:

#12 PeggyR

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 08:40 AM

San Francisco Ballet is giving the U.S. premiere of Neumeier's The Little Mermaid in March, 2010. Had anyone seen this one?

I enjoyed the La dame aux camellias POB DVD, although I thought the story could have been told with more economy (an opinion based on only one viewing). On the other hand, there were so many beautiful moments in the choreography it was easy just to let yourself be swept along.

#13 volcanohunter

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 07:05 PM

I will be watching a Neumeier production of Nutcracker by the Dresden SempOper Ballet on Christmas Day. The storyline is very different than what I have seen in the past and I don't really know what to expect.

His Nutcracker is not at all weird or bizarre, so no need to worry on that score. It isn't set at Christmas but at the heroine's birthday party. (Nonetheless, the Hamburg Ballet performs it nearly every Christmas.) Drosselmeier is a Petipa-like figure, and the second act is essentially a tribute to the history of ballet.

http://www.hamburgba...nussknacker.htm

#14 lsu

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 07:15 PM

Very interesting but if it has nothing to do with Christmas, what is the point of doing this production this time of year and calling it Nutcracker? Am I missing something here?

#15 volcanohunter

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 07:36 PM

Those are completely valid questions. The name probably stayed because that's the title of the score. I suppose that while Neumeier tried to free the ballet from its seasonal dependence, public demand turned it into a Christmas tradition nonetheless.

For the last few years in Hamburg the Christmas-free Nutcracker has been running concurrently with Neumeier's more explicitly seasonal ballet to Bach's Christmas Oratorio.


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