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Tudor Centennial


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#16 sandik

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 01:20 PM

It's so interesting to me that Tudor's following has dwindled so quickly. Do you think it has something to do with the institutions backing the Balanchine & Ashton centennials? Or it it just a reflection of a smaller repertoire? Is it because Tudor's work was somehow linked to a certain time and it's mode of expression is now dated? Is it a money thing? Or is it publicity?


Good questions, all of them. I think the answers are intertwined -- Tudor was affiliated with ABT for many years, as well as teaching at the Met and Julliard, but he made relatively few ballets, so the raw materials for an extensive retrospective are thinner than they might be for other choreographers. His contributions to the field were as much in the studio as they were on the stage. As beautiful as they are, his works never made up the majority backbone of a company rep as Balanchine and Ashton did.

I don't really think that his style is out-of-sync with contemporary tastes -- every time I've seen one of his works performed it seemed to make a big connection to the audience. And he's certainly on the wish list of most critics I know. I don't know about the financial aspect of things -- does anyone here have any information about the fees the estate charges for staging? (I know that kind of information is held pretty closely by most companies -- I'm not asking for deep secrets to be revealed)

#17 missgoodytoeshoes

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 03:48 PM

I attended the Tudor celebration this weekend and it was terrific!!!

There was some speculation and discussion by the panel regarding why Tudor's pieces don't seem to be performed as often as others. Some thoughts were:

It takes time for a company to learn a Tudor piece correctly. Not only are they technically difficult but they require the dancer to really become the character in the piece. This requires time and money that most companies don't have today. Someone made a comment that a Balanchine piece can be learned and performed in 2 weeks time and most require little cost in the way of costumes and scenery so they may be more appealing to some companies.

Those attending all seemed to agree that the pieces are not dated. The human element in his pieces are timeless.

Comments were made that possibly companies tend to assume that audiences are just not interested in Tudor. Poor publicity was also raised as a cause. Comment was made that the last time ABT performed a particular piece (I think it was Undertow - Dale please correct me If I'm wrong), they advertised it in the back of the brochure with a picture of a gravestone. Not very enticing to the uninitiated.

In answer to Bart's question, Sallie Wilson was unfortunately unable to attend the celebration, but if you are ever in NYC, the NYPL has video tapes of other similar panels where Sallie did talk about her experiences working with Tudor and they are well worth watching.

As an aside, I find in amusing that ABT is advertising this big revival of Judgment when it is performed regularly in New York City by NYTB. - Just my opinion.

#18 carbro

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 03:58 PM

Carbro, I think the issue is that at the top of the Ballets and Choreographers forum there are subforums for the Balanchine & Tudor centennials but one has to wade through the threads to come across this one about the Tudor centenniel.

I think it has to do with the fact that the board has been reconceptualized and reorganized in the interim. The subforums such as those for the B'chine & Ashton Centennials have gone the way of the company forums.

It's so interesting to me that Tudor's following has dwindled so quickly. Do you think it has something to do with the institutions backing the Balanchine & Ashton centennials? Or it it just a reflection of a smaller repertoire? Is it because Tudor's work was somehow linked to a certain time and it's mode of expression is now dated? Is it a money thing? Or is it publicity?

I think it's a combination of those factors and more. Not only was Tudor's output miniscule in comparison with Balanchine's (pretty much everyone's is, actually :) ), but the ballets themselves are so specialized. I don't know if the trust has many Tudor veterans staging works or if it trusts dancers who learned ballets second-hand to supervising stagings. They should be more widely seen, but is it practical to just fly into town, teach the dancers the steps and motivations and go on to the next? Six months later, will they still be meeting the demands of the ballet with no Tudor acolyte balletmaster around? I think today's dancers, for the most part, need a whole different kind of education before they're ready to give a Tudor work what it deserves. NYTB has it.

Whoops! I see that MissGTS posted as I was writing :thanks: , so there's some redundancy here. :dunno:

ETA: I have been a certified balletomane for something like 33 years, and I have never seen Undertow. Never! Something's wrong here. It is considered a classic, but it's rarely performed.

#19 missgoodytoeshoes

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 05:26 PM

Julliard Students performed part of Undertow at the celebration this weekend. I think it was Kirk Petersen who has been working it on it with them. It was hard to hear what he was saying but I think he said he chose Freshmen as he knew it would take a while to reconstruct it. So maybe in a couple of years, they will dance it in their graduation performance!?!? Something to look forward to.

#20 vipa

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 06:09 PM

I think that in some ways Tudor works are more fragile that works by some other major choreographers. I think, that for example, Balanchine works danced badly look like good or great pieces (depending on the work) danced badly. I think that Tudor has to be properly coached and performed in order to show the work. Some musical composers are like that. Many works of Bach are jazzed up, souped up, played on synthesizers, etc and still the piece shines through. Other composers are not so lucky. I think it doesn't mean that the work is a lesser work, just less durable, in a sense.

#21 miliosr

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 10:26 AM

Tudor also suffers from not having a major institutional home for his works. He is not central to ABT's DNA the way Balanchine and Robbins are to City Ballet or Ashton and MacMillan are (or was, in Ashton's case) to the Royal. Nor did he impart to his followers a flagship company bearing his name and performing his works year-in-and-year-out the way Alvin Ailey, Martha Graham and Jose Limon did.

#22 Ray

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 10:59 AM

Lots of good explanations as to why Tudor's work is neglected. I'll add my own subjective, dancer-based one. I think performers--and ADs--can be impatient with the process of setting a Tudor ballet, b/c it's incredibly mystified (as in made cryptic), even to those performing it. It's the rare dancer who really "gets it"; the rest of us are never quite sure we're "rolling under the barrel" or "carrying the head of John the Baptist" in just the right way. Or why those images matter to the movement. And while no one is as harsh as Tudor himself was, the people who set his works sometimes emulate his authoritarian ways--to an end that is, again, not always easy to understand.

#23 Amy Reusch

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 11:57 AM

the rest of us are never quite sure we're "rolling under the barrel" or "carrying the head of John the Baptist" in just the right way

Could you elaborate? If it's not too much to ask, I'd be curious to know more about where this imagery is requested.

#24 Ray

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 01:38 PM

the rest of us are never quite sure we're "rolling under the barrel" or "carrying the head of John the Baptist" in just the right way

Could you elaborate? If it's not too much to ask, I'd be curious to know more about where this imagery is requested.



"Under the barrel" (and over the barrel) refers to a part of Dark Elegies (women's dance, so I don't remember when); the port de head of John B comes in Lilac Garden, when some (3?) corps women whisp across the stage (near the beginning, I think), with their arms out in front of them holding .... something.

#25 Amy Reusch

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 06:39 PM

Oh!! I remember shooting this for Pennsylvania Ballet... and thinking one section with 3 women whisping across the stage was very strange... kind of art-nouveau-ish? ... I didn't know what to make of it... it seemed very mannered like something out of the Edward Gorey PBS Mystery! television series animations... I wasn't sure if it was something that seemed right when the piece was made but now didn't connect for audiences (or me, at any rate... I remember thinking it was a very curious section). Thanks Ray.

#26 bart

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 05:46 AM

I also remember the 3 women, most recently from Miami's performances. Amy, you're right: there is an Edward Gorey feeling to it. Running while carrying a prophet's recently hacked-off head on a platter would indeed tend to encourage feelings of urgency. Not to mention THREE such heads. Question: to whom were the heads being delivered? :)

#27 Ray

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 06:44 AM

I also remember the 3 women, most recently from Miami's performances. Amy, you're right: there is an Edward Gorey feeling to it. Running while carrying a prophet's recently hacked-off head on a platter would indeed tend to encourage feelings of urgency. Not to mention THREE such heads. Question: to whom were the heads being delivered? :)


Actually, the shape wasn't hands holding a platter, but actually holding the head, at about eye level or slightly above--the top hand on the top of the severed head, and the bottom hand holding the (presumably bloody) neck-stump--so a different kind of urgent, perhaps (i.e., motivating the dancers to run like they're carrying a bloody head?--never mind that most of us wouldn't pick one up to begin with). Gruesome. And three of them!

I think most viewers imagine that they are holding boxes, perhaps gifts.

#28 bart

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 09:24 AM

In today's Links, dirac posts a Washington Post article by Sarah Kaufman commemorating Tudor's 100th Anniversary. I'm copying the link here because there's a slide show of photos of recent Tudor performances, including several shot at the Juilliard tribute.

http://www.washingto...8040304206.html

#29 miliosr

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 02:37 PM

Happy Birthday Mr. Tudor -- born this day in 1908!

Thanks for the link to the juicy article bart. I'm not sure which was juicier -- the reference to the simmering "anti-Balanchine animus" or the apparent simmering animus toward Kevin McKenzie for his stewardship of the Tudor repertory at ABT.

#30 PhiladelphiaOrchestra

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 05:39 AM

As a musician, I was always struck by the fact that Tudor absolutely dared to use the music of Mahleer and Schienberg for ballets. While I am not a fan of PILLAR OF FIRE, I have always been struck by the movements devised by Tudoe for KINDERTOTENLIEDER. His use of the arms, the head, and the eyes, are quite touching and, more to the point, totally complement the msuic. It is as if the msuci and movement were organically thought through, a la Petipa and Tchaikovsky.
It is a masterpiece, and I am not one to so easily use that word!


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