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"When Things Go Wrooong"(Stage disasters. What, who, when...)


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#16 Helene

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 01:02 PM

Just this afternoon, in the original version of "Apollo," Leto's two attendants dropped the ends of Apollo's swaddling cloth. leaving Royal Ballet of Flanders' Ernesto Boada tangled in cloth, with his arms initially trapped at his sides. You could see them deciding whether to follow their cue offstage, or join in his solo, and they left him there. He recovered nicely, but when the props fail, what a stage nightmare.

#17 bart

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Posted 26 April 2008 - 04:00 PM

Helene, I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often. I recall fumbling with the cloth at NYCB in the early days, though nothing quite as embarassing as what you descibe. I wonder whether incidents like this was a factor the decision to cut that part out. On the other hand, there have also been problems with the Siren's long cape in Prodigal Son, and that bit of business has survived for 80 or so years.

Considering how complex most productions, it's actually a miracle when everything goes RIGHT. I've just returned from the final (of 8) Met HD-Live performances this season -- a staggeringly wonderful, beautifully sung and directed, and genuinely funny Fille du Regiment with Dessay and Florez. At dinner, we were talking about how problem-free these simulcasts seem to have been. You have to be willing to discount the occasional glimpse of a robot camera sailing across the down stage, but otherwise ... :clapping:

#18 Arizona Native

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 03:56 PM

As you all know, in Don Q there are all manner of props -- fans and ribbons and capes, among others. In a recent Ballet Arizona production, the virile torreodor swirled his cape manfully -- down, then up and over, arching beautifully as the cape swirled over his head. Excitement built as he repeated this feat over and over, travelling downstage, the heavy cape swirling and swirling, his sultry lady looking on in admiration. The Torreodor reached his lady, the turn of his body and the climax of the music told us this was the last swirl, with the next move he was to triumphantly throw it to the floor at his lady's feet. As he made his last loop on releve, his upper body arched, the huge, weighty cape caught on his face and collapsed over him like a floppy tortilla.

To his credit, his smile after he extricated himself (there was a moment where he looked as if he might have been suffocating, and then he yanked it off and tossed it down) was not so *much* rueful as entertained, which allowed the audience to laugh with him.

#19 bart

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 05:45 PM

Sounds like an exciting performance, Arizona Native. I suspect that most of us enjoy the risk-takers. :sweatingbullets: :D :clapping: It's the namby-pamby cape-wavers that I can't abide.

#20 Arizona Native

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Posted 02 May 2008 - 09:20 AM

Yes, in fact it *was* a fabulous performance, eliciting exclamations of delight and *whooping* from the audience. Our cape-wielder got his groove back the next night, and Helene gave him a much-deserved glowing review. :D

The cape was obviously so big and heavy that it required quite a bit of strength, as well as coordination, to keep it moving. Hmmmm... at the time, I thought it would have been wise to use a lighter fabric, but reading your comment, I'm thinking Ib Anderson and Olga Evreinoff may, too, have seen their share of timid torreodors!

#21 Snowbound

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 08:58 PM

One summer I worked as stage crew for a local theatre that sponsored a storybook ballet series to attract children to ballet. A visiting company was doing "Alice in Wonderland", Alice and the White Rabbit were dancing together, and for some reason a thread came loose from the ribbon on Alice's pointe shoe (sometimes those ends just don't stay tucked in!). Sure enough it caught somewhere, and Alice and Rabbit danced through a longer and longer tangle of satin thread as Alice's ribbon continued to unravel. Both Alice and the Rabbit contained themselves, and I'm not sure that the audience could actually tell/see that something was going on, but those of us in the wings were pretty amused!

#22 bart

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 04:28 AM

Thanks for reviving this thread, Snowbound. I suppose this COULD have been considered part of the plot, if the audience had noticed. Lots of things get unraveled in the Alice story . And the kids, I'm sure, would have LOVED it. :clapping:

Any other shoe complications out there?

#23 jonellew

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 06:12 AM

In a Colorado Ballet performance of Nutcracker some years ago, the guy dancing the Nutcracker was doing his mime at the beginning of the second act when some sort of backdrop cloth fell from the flies onto his head. It took a few minutes of panicked searching for him to get out—it looked like one of those bagism pieces for a minute. It must have been pretty terrifying, I guess, because he looked furious once he got if off and threw it offstage! Unfortunately, I am a sucker for surprising physical comedy and have never thought this was anything but hilarious. I hope he now looks back on the incident with humor.

#24 carbro

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 11:18 AM

I'm a little surprised this hasn't been mentioned (maybe because it wasn't, strictly speaking, ballet) but it just suddenly sprang to mind.

When the revival of On Your Toes was playing Kennedy Center before its 2003 Broadway opening, a piece of scenery fell on Natalia Makarova, injuring her shoulder and sidelining her for over two months and [url="http://"%20<a%20href="http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9900E6DE163BF932A35751C0A965948260&scp=2&sq=makarova,%20%22kennedy%20center%22%20shoulder&st=cse""%20target="_blank">http://query.nytimes...tml...mp;st=cse"</a>"]delaying by a few days [/url]the eventual Broadway opening.

#25 liebs

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 12:07 PM

And then there was the NYCB performance of Ballo in which Robert Weiss snapped his Achilles tendon and hobbled off stage leaving Merrill Ashely to finish the ballet alone. Happily he was able to dance again. But later that same evening in Fancy Free, one of the beer mugs broke and the dancer playing the bartender went off stage, got a real broom and dustpan and cleaned it up. It was a lively evening.

#26 dnznqueen

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 12:14 PM

Just finished a touring run of Sleeping Beauty. The company we were working with had probably one of the first CD players ever made. The music started skipping during the show, the next tracks would start in the middle of the track, leaving us dancers to make up/catch up choreography. There was also a lot of CD switching- poor Red Riding Hood did the entire piece (sans Wolf) 3 times in complete silence waiting for the music to come on. Probably one of the worst shows I have ever been a part of...

#27 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 12:31 PM

...this last story is just going on top of the list...wow

#28 carbro

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 02:07 PM

And then there was the NYCB performance of Ballo in which Robert Weiss snapped his Achilles tendon and hobbled off stage leaving Merrill Ashely to finish the ballet alone. Happily he was able to dance again. But later that same evening in Fancy Free, one of the beer mugs broke and the dancer playing the bartender went off stage, got a real broom and dustpan and cleaned it up. It was a lively evening.

I was there, too. It was frightening, as was the Scotch Symphony in which Jean-Pierre Bonnefous fell and was unable to finish the performance.

The last movement proceeded with the corps framing, at times, nothing. McBride performed her unpartnered entrances and may have improvised a little (I wasn't familiar enough with the ballet then to have known for sure), never hinting the anxiety she must have been feeling. The audience, aware that it was her her husband who had just injured himself rather seriously, gave her an extra appreciative ovation.

Bonnefous, too, eventually returned to dance, but like Weiss, a reduced repertoire and schedule.

#29 PeggyR

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 06:58 AM

This one is pretty minor compared to some of the disasters recounted here, but it made me laugh.

SFB's new production of Swan Lake uses a projection of a huge moon as part of the scenery for acts 2, 3, and 4. Saturday night, when the curtain went up on act 3 -- no moon! After about 10 seconds it appeared, and probably anyone who hadn't seen the production before even noticed.

I could just imagine backstage someone frantically miming, 'Quick, somebody turn on the moon!', and on stage, the dancers wondering, 'What time is the next moon?'

#30 jonellew

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 08:13 AM

I know there is at least one video of ballet bloopers out there—does anyone know of it? It may be a Russian video. I remember it had lots of uninteresting falls and such, but also things like a dancer doing a circle of jete en tournant and getting wound up in a curtain and having to stop to move backward and unwind himself before continuing on.


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