SpanCox

Sweet, cute and happy ballets?

36 posts in this topic

Hello.

This is my first post on this board, please shoot me if this is the wrong forum.

I do like ballet a lot, danced from 8-12 before an injury ended that.

My wife did not use to appreciate ballet as much as I, she thought it was too stiff and never felt especially touched from it.

Until we went to see "La fille mal gardee" last year (Royal Swedish Ballet), that ballet suddenly reached through to her.

Since La fille is such an uncommon ballet, I am looking for similar ballets to take her to.

What other ballets is there that is sweet, cute and romantic - but not pointed entirely towards kids?

Best regards

SpanCox

Share this post


Link to post
Hello.

.

My wife did not use to appreciate ballet as much as I, she thought it was too stiff and never felt especially touched from it.

Until we went to see "La fille mal gardee" last year (Royal Swedish Ballet), that ballet suddenly reached through to her.

Since La fille is such an uncommon ballet, I am looking for similar ballets to take her to.

What other ballets is there that is sweet, cute and romantic - but not pointed entirely towards kids?

Best regards

SpanCox

SpanCox,

I think of Coppelia as being in a similar catergory as La Fille Mal Gardee. It's lovely and romantic and playful, but has a tiny undercurrent of darkness;

the idea of a scientist/doctor trying to bring a doll to life and doing so by trying to draw to life out of a young rascal is not all sweetness and light.

But I think the ballet is just what you are asking for, the undercurrent doesn't hit you over the head and the original score by Delibes is lovely.

And kids enjoy too!

Share this post


Link to post

As far as cute and happy goes, Ashton's Les Rendezvous and Les Patineurs are hard to beat. Although short they are as inventive and fun as Fille.

Ratmansky's Bright Stream is also a very happy ballet and has some very cute moments (like the dance of the accordionist with Galya the schoolgirl (synopsis)

It would be wrong to say that Napoli is cute and it does contain some temporary heartbreak but its 3rd act is the happiest I've ever been in a theater and it seemed that way for the dancers dancing it too!

Share this post


Link to post

I adored The Bright Stream, chrisk! :dunno: Does anyone besides the Bolshoi do it?

Another romp your wife might like is Don Quixote, which bears a glancing relationship to Cervantes' novel. It is full of balletic fireworks and concerns the courtship between Basil, the barber, and Kitri, the innkeeper's daughter. A lot of comedy, a lot of bravura dancing. There is, however, a very classical (which is probably what your wife sees as "stiff") scene smack dab in the middle.

Let us know what you choose to see, and how you and your wife liked it.

And welcome to BalletTalk, SpanCox. I'd like to invite you to tell us a bit more about yourself in our Welcome Page.

Share this post


Link to post

Balanchine's Who Cares, Midsummer's Night Dream, and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux are inevitable crowd-pleasers. Also, it might not even need to be said, but his Nutcracker is probably the all-time most feel-good ballet ever.

Moving away from Balanchine, I agree that Bright Stream and Coppelia are a lot of fun. Ashton's Cinderella too.

Share this post


Link to post
...

Until we went to see "La fille mal gardee" last year (Royal Swedish Ballet), that ballet suddenly reached through to her.

Since La fille is such an uncommon ballet, I am looking for similar ballets to take her to.

What other ballets is there that is sweet, cute and romantic - but not pointed entirely towards kids?

Best regards

SpanCox

While Ashton's Fille is without equal (my favorite full-length ballet of the 20th Century), John Cranko's Taming of the Shrew is great fun, and is in RSB's repertoire.

Share this post


Link to post
What other ballets is there that is sweet, cute and romantic - but not pointed entirely towards kids?

Mmm...besides all the above suggestions, i'll give you a lovely and non-pretentious PDD that you and your wife might enjoy. Go on Youtube and just type Munecos Ballet...then click on the one with Xiomara Reyes (ABT) and Yat-Sen Chang , choreography of the cuban Alberto Mendez...Then tell me...(BTW, you can also see it danced by Lorna Feijoo, SFB principal and Rolando Sarabia , MCB principal on Youtube too...)

and Welcome!!

:dunno:

Share this post


Link to post

Those Munecos videos are wonderful! There's also a delightful one with Alihaydee Carreno and Rolando Sarabia. The effect is like something from Petroushka without any dark or dangerous elements at all.

How about the "Dance of the Hours" and the other dance segments of Disney's Fantasia? Those frantic, hyperextended ostriches! Those graceful, impeccably classical tutu-clad hippopotami! And the corps of flamingos, as disciplined and mesmerising as the Kirov's! :dunno:

Share this post


Link to post

Another Balanchine romp is "Stars and Stripes." Not often done, "Dances at a Gathering" is full of whimsy and charm, as is the little piece called "Circus," or something like it (it includes children, but is not necessarily *for* children). While not sweet and light, "Green Table" is certainly accessible and moving. In a completely different vein, though admittedly not cheery and lacking a traditional story, I recall "Strange Lands" done by the Stuttgart as particularly moving -- it would satisfy the "not stiff" requirement. Have you tried film? "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" is big fun, and a great dance film.

Share this post


Link to post
Those Munecos videos are wonderful! There's also a delightful one with Alihaydee Carreno and Rolando Sarabia. The effect is like something from Petroushka without any dark or dangerous elements at all.

I know...Still, there is some hidden darkness in here bart. See, the interesting element of this PDD is that it tells a multi-cultural/multiracial truncated love story. She impersonates a classic mulata cuban doll, which are tipically made of soft cloth and cotton as stuffing. This dolls , as it's been the tradition since the XVIII Century in Cuba, are made by female members of the family as presents to their daughters or grand daughters..(later on they started being produced comercially), but that's why her movements, when she starts dancing her solo back to the audience, are so flexible, particulary her arms and legs..those dolls have no wires or any stiff material inside, just cloth and cotton. The male character represents an spaniard XIX Century tin soldier, which were also very popular toys back on the days in Cuba. So underneath its cuteness, this is really a sad complex story that talks about social status, race and even politics...(assuming that if he represents an spaniard militar of the cuban XIX Century, she must have been a slave, being black). This tale of "forbidden love" is visually easier to understand when watching the original dancers that vere casted on the roles, also on Youtube: the black cuban ballerina Caridad Martinez and the recently deceased blond Fernando Jhones (RIP).

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks, Cristian, for the explanation, and for putting this in its cultural setting. It's fascinating what one can MISS if you don't know the references that local audiences would automatically bring to it. :dunno: Taking a second look, after reading your post, makes viewing this quite a different experience.

Share this post


Link to post

The circus ballet Arizona Native alludes to is "Circus Polka." It uses the music Stravinsky composed at Balanchine's request for young elephants. In this latter incarnation, the choreography is by Jerome Robbins and the dancers are 48 little girls and a ringmaster. It is performed only on special occasions. As for Robbins's"Dances at a Gathering," there is whimsy to be sure, but the ballet is also romantic and dramatic, though it tells no explicit story. I think the funniest ballet ever choreographed is also by Jerome Robbins -- "The Concert."

Share this post


Link to post
I think the funniest ballet ever choreographed is also by Jerome Robbins -- "The Concert."
I agree, farrell fan. But -- although it makes most of us quite "happy" -- I wonder if it meets SpanCox's other two ciriteria: that it be "sweet" and "cute".

I also have to quibble with the choice of "Bright Stream." I know the revival delights audiences, but -- as we've discussed before on this board -- it does sweeten up a period of forced collectivization in the Soviet Union which resulted, directly and indirectly, in the displacement and death of millions. There will always have to be a dark sub-text to that particular ballet, as far as I am concerned.

How about "Who Cares?"

Share this post


Link to post

Lichine's Graduation Ball

Lynn Taylor-Corbett's Great Galloping Gottschalk... [corrected]

Balanchine's Western Symphony?

The Concert

Must be some deMille thing as well...

Ruthanna Boris' Cakewalk

I'm not sure... how about Fancy Free?

Is Don Quixote too stiff?

Share this post


Link to post
Must be some deMille thing as well...

That would be "Rodeo." It meets all the criteria.

Share this post


Link to post

Does anybody do Christensen's "Con Amore" any more?

And "Great Galloping Gottschalk" is Lynne Taylor-Corbett's, not Sappington's.

Share this post


Link to post

How about Sir Frederick Ashton's "The Dream", which is very funny and absolutely sublime. His Two Pigeons is also sublime and so happy that my friends and I all end up weeping buckets by the end. An acquaintance asked us why we were crying at a happy ballet and the answer was of course because it's so happy!

I also agree with suggestions earlier in the thread of Coppelia and Taming of the Shrew.

More recent productions that I have found to be fun are David Nixon's witty interpretation of A Midsummer Night's Dream - there are lots of real laugh out loud moments with the star-crossed lovers. His Three Musketeers is great, swash buckling fun and there are lots of cheery moments in his Gershwin Ballet "I got rhythm".

David Bintley's Hobson's Choice is a comic masterpiece and his more recent Cyrano is bittersweet with laugh out load moments and great tragedy (at least 3 man-sized boxes of tissues are required!).

Share this post


Link to post
I also have to quibble with the choice of "Bright Stream."
it does sweeten up a period of forced collectivization in the Soviet Union which resulted, directly and indirectly, in the displacement and death of millions. There will always have to be a dark sub-text to that particular ballet, as far as I am concerned.

By that measure shouldn't we perhaps quibble over Fille mal gardee too? For a ballet that was premiered 14 days before the fall of the Bastille it is uncommonly cheery and light-hearted. Where did all those happy peasants come from? Where is the famine, the ravages of numerous past wars, the social upheaval?

And how about Coppelia - premiered just days before the declaration of the 1870 war, one with hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded, and its young ballerina dead at 17 from cholera contracted during the siege of Paris.

I admire your sensitivity but there are dark subtexts everywhere - all you have to do is look for them. Being aware of history is essential but it should not prevent us from having our spirits lifted by works of art, especially works of art that are affirmations of happiness created in defiance of the dark realities of human existence.

The revival btw does not claim to be a realistic representation of life in a collective. That is hinted throughout the ballet and any relation to reality is abandoned when the giant vegetables roll out.

Share this post


Link to post
By that measure shouldn't we perhaps quibble over Fille mal gardee too? For a ballet that was premiered 14 days before the fall of the Bastille it is uncommonly cheery and light-hearted. Where did all those happy peasants come from? Where is the famine, the ravages of numerous past wars, the social upheaval?

Fille was premiered in Bordeaux, not Paris.

And how about Coppelia - premiered just days before the declaration of the 1870 war, one with hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded, and its young ballerina dead at 17 from cholera contracted during the siege of Paris.

The key word here is "before". Before the Franco-Prussian War, Napoleon III and his whole establishment were convinced that they could win any war with anybody, anytime in maybe a couple of weeks. Sound familiar? :excl:

I admire your sensitivity but there are dark subtexts everywhere - all you have to do is look for them. Being aware of history is essential but it should not prevent us from having our spirits lifted by works of art, especially works of art that are affirmations of happiness created in defiance of the dark realities of human existence.

Very true, but in looking for "dark subtexts", we have to be careful of Presentism, where we apply what we know now to a situation that happened before the fact, or elsewhere. I have to do this all the time when lecturing on the last year of the War for American Independence: "The last major battle of the war was Yorktown, in Virginia, in 1781. Of course, at the time, nobody KNEW that it was the last Big One, but that's how it worked out!"

The revival btw does not claim to be a realistic representation of life in a collective. That is hinted throughout the ballet and any relation to reality is abandoned when the giant vegetables roll out.

Oh, I dunno, it could have something to do with the quality of the potato crop that year, and the output of the State Vodka Distillery! :P

Share this post


Link to post
I admire your sensitivity but there are dark subtexts everywhere - all you have to do is look for them. Being aware of history is essential but it should not prevent us from having our spirits lifted by works of art, especially works of art that are affirmations of happiness created in defiance of the dark realities of human existence.
True. But the examples you give -- Fille mal gardee and Coppelia -- have to do with the period and context in which they were produced, not with the story of the ballet itself.

The problem with Bright Stream is quite different. It "brightens" -- in the sense of sanitizing and trivializing -- a monumental political and economic catastrophe (many consider it a "crime") on the part of the Soviet regime, one which involved the desctruction and dislocation of a huge number of human lives.

It hs to be said that Stalin did not like the ballet, that the director of the Bolshoi was eventually fired, and that the librettist was later sent to a gulag. These are all mitigating circumstances, of course. Some even go further argue that the ballet was intended as -- and taken by the audience in 1935 to be -- a social criticism of the collectivization movement. I find that argument implausible, or naive.

I'm not calling for a boycott. People today should enjoy the ballet, certainly. But they should also be aware of the tragic historical circumstances in and around which it was created.

I should add that I have not myself seen this revival. However, I've read quite a few reviews, articles and letters debating its significance -- both to Stalinism in the 1930s and to the very different social and political environment in Russia today.

Share this post


Link to post
And welcome to BalletTalk, SpanCox. I'd like to invite you to tell us a bit more about yourself in our Welcome Page.

Thank you for that, I just posted my presentation.

Bright stream seems interesting, I can see that Bolshoi gives it this spring, though it is slightly expensive in Russia.

Thank you all for the great and quick response to my call.

Best regards

Thomas Koos

Share this post


Link to post

Perhaps it would be interesting, from an academic point of view, to see a restoration of the original Stalin-era Gayane, with Gayane's counter-revolutionary husband Giko, and Captain of glorious Red Army as hero. I've always wanted to find out if the final curtain actually came as the entire company danced for joy around a tractor.

Share this post


Link to post