Brioche, on May 23 2009, 02:46 PM, said:
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.
I wouldn't think of 'telling' Mr. Neumeier anything at all as I have not seen any of his ballet output for mamy years, actually not since 1977 (that's 32 years ago). So my comments may be valueless in this present time.
But I did know very well his methods of choreographing then since I worked with him at that time while he was doing a Hamlet for ABT. I was ABT's resident choreologist (that's a Benesh dance notator) and so had to attend his rehearsals and write it all down. First of all, his cast could not have been better chosen for star power, or rather given to him by ABT management for box office. Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland, Eric Bruhn, Marcia Haydee, William Carter. All top stars. Even with that line-up, the ballet was a disaster from start to finish and Lucia Chase pulled it after only one performance at the Gershwin Theater on 51st Street. I don't know what it's called now as I no longer live in New York.
My feeling was that he had made a bad choice of music: Connotations for piano by Aaron Copland. A solo piano throughout. Baryshnikov kept asking me about the counts and I had a hard time figuring them out myself, and I am trained in music. John does know music and I often saw him studying the piano score, which is not too often seen with other choreographers. The Copland score was unlistenable, at least to my ears. That's only my opinion of course but the audience reaction was the same when I went out front at intermission time to listen. John was rather young then, I think maybe 30 or so, and already well established in Hamburg. I admired him and his tenacity. He was possibly a bit overwhealmed by all that major star power. I remember him asking me how he could to do the curtain calls cautiously, so as not to offend any of them I suppose. (I suggested they come out all at once). I was overwhealmed as well because it was my first job with ABT plus also notating Baryshnikov's Nutcracker and rehearsing Sleeping Beauty at the same time.
I believe John re-worked Hamlet after he returned to Hamburg. I do remember sending him the notated score. It was possibly a big success in Germany. I never did a follow-up but the choreologist there would probnably know.
At the present time I am very much admiring John for his founding of a museum for the Diaghilev/Nijinsky era. Apparently he has done tons of work in collecting materials from all over the world. My friend and neighbor, George Zoritch, who just recently died, thought very highly of John and I believe at least part of his own vast collection will end up in this setting. It is truly remarkable when an American dancer from Milwaukee is so much honored and respected in Germany and we can be proud of him and his success.