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Ballets that should NOT be revived


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#31 Cygnet

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 10:39 AM

It must have been something. (And I have difficulty seeing Merle Park in the role.)


It was something: Dame Merle Park was miscast as Isadora Duncan. I think Lynn Seymour would have been the best choice; but Ashton had already created a minor one act gem for her called "Dances in the Manner of Isadora Duncan" a few years earlier. MacMillan's full-length "Isadora" would have been an inferior 're-dux' for her. She had already scored a major triumph as the original Mary Vetsera in his (then) most recent full-evening work, "Mayerling" (1978). MacMillan might've wished to 'share the joy' by creating a full-length on Park for a change, but this was the wrong subject. Sibley created "Manon" (1974), although the role was created on Jennifer Penney due to Sibley's illness at the time, and Seymour created "Anastasia" (1971). Seymour at that point, had three full-lengths created for her: Mary, Anastasia and Juliet > if you count "Romeo & Juliet" (1965), in which Fonteyn got the premiers in London and New York. Seymour left the Royal in 1980 to direct the Bavarian State Opera Ballet in Munich. She returned for a short period in 1981 when this ballet was being choreographed, then she retired.

How did he deal with the fatal accident, BTW?

Park was laid out on the back seat of a Bugatti convertible onstage,
with the driver's side door wide open. I vaguely recall that she was
wearing a suit, with a matching cape and wide hat, complete with cigarette
and cigarette holder. What I can't remember is how the 'dance' got to that point.

#32 Estelle

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 12:06 PM

And BTW the eponymous Veronique Doisneau does change name to match its performer.


Has it ever been performed by someone else ? I haven't heard about it being performed at the POB since the season it was premiered (it was Ms Doisneau's last season before her retirement...) And probably some parts of the content would have been to be modified to suit another performer's career/ thoughts (not that I'm looking forward to seeing it again- I found some parts a bit amusing, but to me it was really anecdotical, and easily forgotten...)

#33 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 12:17 PM

I'd like to pose a side question to this -

Instead of ballets that should not be revived because they aren't good enough, does anyone feel there are ballets that are so dated/have outlived their purpose that they no longer merit revival at all?

:off topic: Papeetepatrick - I was in SF window shopping last weekend. The stores on the Castro have retro PanAm bags in them - even odder, the whole street was being retro-fitted with signage to look sort-of as it did in 1979 for the filming of a biopic on Harvey Milk. Homes in SF were priced to sell at $60K, gas was 0.65 a gallon for regular.

#34 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 01:31 PM

Well how about something like "A Tragedy of Fashion"? (although didn't someone try that?) Other than its value as a curiosity by Ashton, why bother?

(How bizarre that must have been in San Francisco!) :off topic:

So did you buy a house?

#35 papeetepatrick

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 03:33 PM

:off topic: Papeetepatrick - I was in SF window shopping last weekend. The stores on the Castro have retro PanAm bags in them - even odder, the whole street was being retro-fitted with signage to look sort-of as it did in 1979 for the filming of a biopic on Harvey Milk. Homes in SF were priced to sell at $60K, gas was 0.65 a gallon for regular.


Thank you, Leigh, I'm glad standards are being upheld for those of us who can't update without pain :lol: . I became so well-known for weird attachment to the PanAm logos that an old lady friend found 2 old PanAm blankets of the sort used on the planes--at an Eglise de St. Bernard rummage sale on 14th Street.

PAMTGG (speaking slightly more seriously) sounds like one of those that are too dated. I think 'Glass Pieces' is already very dated, and I wouldn't see it again. At the risk of bordering on rudeness, hasn't 'Friandises' already evaporated, in any case I rather doubt it's constantly on people's minds as something they eagerly anticipate, being soooooo 2005 as it is...

#36 Ray

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 04:08 PM

I'd like to pose a side question to this -

Instead of ballets that should not be revived because they aren't good enough, does anyone feel there are ballets that are so dated/have outlived their purpose that they no longer merit revival at all?


I'd put Bolender's Souvenirs in that category. And I think NYCB has dumped Balanchine's one-act Swan Lake there as well.

Perhaps we can also amend Leigh's classification to include ballets that posterity seems to have doomed to oblivion, at least in terms of inspiring major revivals. Balanchine's Pas de Dix comes to mind, as well as his older versions of Valse Fantasie. And what's happened to Allegro Brillante?

Of course all of this depends on what your sense of "purpose" is (i.e., challenges/showcases dancers, promotes a company's or a choreographer's artistic vision, speaks to someone's aesthetic hunger, etc.), or if "dated" carries a negative connotation for you. To me, for instance, Les Patineurs feels incredibly dated and pursues no aesthetic purpose--I can't imagine the gain it confers on any company performing it. I'm sure others feel differently!

#37 bart

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 04:27 PM

Instead of ballets that should not be revived because they aren't good enough, does anyone feel there are ballets that are so dated/have outlived their purpose that they no longer merit revival at all?

While doing some research on Bourree Fantasque prior to the upcoming Miami performances, I came across the following comment by Arlene Croce regarding an NYCB revival in 1993:

Was a new production of Bourree Fantasque (1949) needed to prove yet again that the first movement just doesn't work anymore? Created for two great comedians, Le Clercq and Robbins on the intimate scale of the City Center stage, it cannot begin to explain why audiences of the time were left, in the words of one reviewer, "limp with laughter." I am sorry for whatever inhibition has kept Martins or, better, Robbins from replacing it, for the two other movements are worth saving. [Nicholas ] Legat [, Petipa's successor,] and [Hans] Beck [,a successor of Bournonville,] would not have hesitated.

I hope she's not right about this particular scene "not working anymore." However, I've noticed that certain kinds of humor often do not travel well across the generations.

#38 Paul Parish

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 11:55 PM

Perhaps with the advent of two comedians of the calibre of Leclerq and Robbins, the first movement of Bourree F MIGHT work again.

I was just reading last week about how awful Aurora's Wedding was in Miami, and the critic for the Herald went so far as to say that that ballet was dead -- sounds like a terrible performance, with from other accounts I read a very bad performance of the music. Well, bad performances of Sleeping Beauty are unbelievably ghastly because of how beautiful a great one can be -- this is the absolute test of lack of imagination. We recently saw ABT's Paloma Herrera and 4 cavaliers in unlikely garments do the Rose Adagio in such a deadly way I could not believe how much I hated it -- but it was the personnel and the direction that killed it, but that doesn't mean Sleeping Beauty is over with.

#39 sandik

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 01:27 PM

sounds like we're building a great list of repertory for the Bad Ballet Company.. :)

Add Dracula and you have a season! I'm surprised that no company has contacted us yet to plan next season's programs for them. Umbrella title: "Lost Masterpieces". :angel_not:


Well, I vote for a Dracula festival, with all the versions in rotating rep.

This could run alongside a modern dance project I've always wanted to see, called "Everyone's Dances with Chairs, All Performed at Once"

#40 sandik

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 01:33 PM

I'd like to pose a side question to this -

Instead of ballets that should not be revived because they aren't good enough, does anyone feel there are ballets that are so dated/have outlived their purpose that they no longer merit revival at all?


I'd put Bolender's Souvenirs in that category. And I think NYCB has dumped Balanchine's one-act Swan Lake there as well.

...

To me, for instance, Les Patineurs feels incredibly dated and pursues no aesthetic purpose--I can't imagine the gain it confers on any company performing it. I'm sure others feel differently!


I think perhaps there's a subsection of this side question -- ballets that need to take a break and come back after they've shifted from "dated" to "retro" (or whatever titles are appropriate at the time)

For ages "Western Symphony" made me cringe, the cultural cliches grated on my sensibilities like chalk on a blackboard. But the last couple of times I've seen it, in the Pacific Northwest Ballet staging, I've been able to get beyond the stereotypes (and the pastiche score) to appreciate the wit and facility of the choreography.

But then, I still love Patineurs in all its coy glory.

#41 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 01:50 PM

sounds like we're building a great list of repertory for the Bad Ballet Company.. :)

Add Dracula and you have a season! I'm surprised that no company has contacted us yet to plan next season's programs for them. Umbrella title: "Lost Masterpieces". :angel_not:


Well, I vote for a Dracula festival, with all the versions in rotating rep.

This could run alongside a modern dance project I've always wanted to see, called "Everyone's Dances with Chairs, All Performed at Once"


Can we have that along with my "Dances that Begin and/or End On the Floor" festival?

#42 perky

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 05:41 AM

I'd like to pose a side question to this -

Instead of ballets that should not be revived because they aren't good enough, does anyone feel there are ballets that are so dated/have outlived their purpose that they no longer merit revival at all?



I would add Balanchine's Alma Mater (1935) and Concerto For Jazz Band And Orchestra (1971), two ballets that seem to be very much of their time and should probably stay there permanently. Another Balanchine that might fall into this catagory is Tyl Ulenspiegel (1951). It's probably dated too, but it looks so darn interesting and Jerome Robbins as the title character has mentioned that he got some of the best notices of his dancing career from this ballet.

#43 Ray

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 07:50 AM

I think perhaps there's a subsection of this side question -- ballets that need to take a break and come back after they've shifted from "dated" to "retro" (or whatever titles are appropriate at the time)

For ages "Western Symphony" made me cringe, the cultural cliches grated on my sensibilities like chalk on a blackboard. But the last couple of times I've seen it, in the Pacific Northwest Ballet staging, I've been able to get beyond the stereotypes (and the pastiche score) to appreciate the wit and facility of the choreography.

But then, I still love Patineurs in all its coy glory.


I agree, Sandi--with certain ballets, familiarity breeds a kind of contempt that might just signal a siesta time, either for the performer or the viewer (i.e., my feelings about Nutcracker upon retiring--"good riddance!"--have softened considerably). And I do love things retro!

Maybe a good additional category would be ballets that aren't "timeless," perhaps, but have a kind of retro charm. Lander's Etudes? Kilian's Sinfonietta? Stars and Stripes? This category would be distinct from the let's-revive-it-b/c-it's-so-whacky category: PAMTGG, etc.

#44 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 09:07 AM

Interesting idea, though I wouldn't have put Etudes in that category.

#45 Paul Parish

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 09:14 AM

My feeling is that there is no ballet so bad that the right company can't make it interesting -- kinda like "Springtime for Hitler," the right artists can sometimes find the tone that makes it work. I've certainly seen ballets -- Fall River Legend, for example -- performed by the home company (ABT) as if "this old thing is just too embarrassing, I can't believe I have to go out here and do that" -- just after having seen it perfoirmed by the Oakland Ballet (I know, I harp on this theme too much, but it's the truth) as if they had no idea it was old-hat and they ALL knew people who came from families seething with hostitlity and they really sank their teeth into it and Summer Lee Rhatigan made Lizzie into a GREAT role, and hte performance melted the walls it was so disturbing and upsetting and fantastically realized.

Similarly, when San Francisco Ballet did Jinx, which was choreographed by SFB director Lew Christensen and is probably his masterpiece, they all looked too light -- especially the women -- too supple, young, and gifted -- to create the Fellini-esque mood of a down-at-heels circus of quietly-desperate performers that Stravinsky's music SO ably supports -- but the OAKLAND Ballet made it riveting. They had the weight, the timing, the emotional depth, the chunkier bodies, and the tradition of character-dancing it took to make the whippings look violent.

So much of what's lost is style, phrasing, posture -- if the style could be somehow revived, even the most dated ballet could suddenly look like a window onto a strange but fascinating world.

After 9/11, Joanne Woodward decided to stage the VERY old-fashioned play Our Town -- with Paul Newman as hte stage manager and a fantastic supporting cast. It was filmed for PBS (I guess) and broadcast -- anyway, it's out on DVD and rentable, andmy God! that'll take you back. It's wonderful. Check it out.


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