Premierdanseur

Ballets that should be done!!

28 posts in this topic

Since there is a topic about ballets that should not be revieved, I thought I should start a topic about ballet's that hasn't been made that you guys think should be done. A full-lenght ballet that should be made; classical, romantic, neo, or modern!

I have one that I would like to see. That's Anna Karenina. Imagine dramatic pas de deuxs, beautiful ball scenes, gorgeus costumes, and music by....hhhm...why not Tchaikovsky? :wink: Any thoughts!!

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That's been done, actually. A couple of times. Plisetskaya choreographed one(1971).

We've tried to do this a couple of times in board history, and every time it comes up, no matter what the libretto, somebody's already done it.

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I think E.M. Forster's 'The Machine Stops', his futuristic story with the wormlike 'mending apparatus' of the mechanized society, would be a marvelous ballet, but no Philip Glass, please. There's probably some music of Benjamin Britten or Michael Tippett that would be just right to keep it in its period but still be about future sterile hell.

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The problem with many libretti in ballet is that the story needs to be "common coin" of the culture to which it is presented. Unless you have a choreographer of unusual talent for drama, most stories won't support a treatment as ballet.

Forster is good, but too many mothers-in-law. I recall watching a production of Ramayana in Thailand. The local audience knew what was supposed to be going on. I didn't. It was a very uneasy ten hours. And leaving to go to the bathroom was considered an insult to the King.

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I think E.M. Forster's 'The Machine Stops', his futuristic story with the wormlike 'mending apparatus' of the mechanized society, would be a marvelous ballet, but no Philip Glass, please. There's probably some music of Benjamin Britten or Michael Tippett that would be just right to keep it in its period but still be about future sterile hell.

I've been imagining this story as a movie for a long time now, and it seems esp. trenchant now b/c it seems to anticipate many important features of the Internet--i.e., the proliferation of second, third, fourth-hand (etc.) knowledge at the expense of direct experience. Can you say why, though, you imagine it as a ballet? What sort of dance scenes are you imagining? (lots of solos, haha).

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Think what you could make out of Moby-Dick, especially the "Catalogue of the Whales" divertissement! Only trouble, nobody would want to dance it. Oop, too late, somebody's done it!

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It was a very uneasy ten hours.
I have the feeling I've been to a few of those in the early days of "dance theater" in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. :wink:

Has anyone ever done Kafka's "The Metamorphosis"? Gregor's metamorphosis into a gigantic, repellant insect and the reactions of those around him, especially his mother, father, and sister, could all be danced a la Tudor. There's a bravura role for Gregor, of cousre. But Grete, the sister, would also be an especially interesting character. She becomes his caretaker and is made to sacrifice her dreams for a better life. As time passes, and the burdens and disgust pile on, everyone changes.

At the end, and after Gregor's awful death, the family's -- more relieved than saddened -- makes an excursion into the countryside. This could be absolutely chilling in the right hands. Here are the final sentences:

The tram, in which they were the only passengers, was filled with warm sunlight. Leaning comfortably back in their seats they canvassed their prospects for the future, and it appeared on closer inspection that theese were not at all bad [...] And it was like a confirmation of their new dreams and excellent intentions that at the end of their journey their daughter sprang to her feet first and stretched her young body.

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I think E.M. Forster's 'The Machine Stops', his futuristic story with the wormlike 'mending apparatus' of the mechanized society, would be a marvelous ballet, but no Philip Glass, please. There's probably some music of Benjamin Britten or Michael Tippett that would be just right to keep it in its period but still be about future sterile hell.

I've been imagining this story as a movie for a long time now, and it seems esp. trenchant now b/c it seems to anticipate many important features of the Internet--i.e., the proliferation of second, third, fourth-hand (etc.) knowledge at the expense of direct experience. Can you say why, though, you imagine it as a ballet? What sort of dance scenes are you imagining? (lots of solos, haha).

Oh yes, the elastic Mending Apparatus for Suzanne Farrell (that's when I imagined it back in the 80s) and someone mature and retired and tired of doing Aurora's mother and/or Carabosse for Fat Vashti...really then only needs the Male Soloist in a good bit of agony as Vasht's son (no Damien Woetzel, please, I agree with somebody else this is a dancer I don't get...), I could imagine Mathiu Ganoi, since Villella isn't up for this sort of thing by now. Aurelie Dupont as the Mending Apparatus more than Ashley Bouder by now. Vashti would just have to sit there and talk on the telephone and look at monitors about the Brisbane School of what-have-you (I don't have a copy available) and just generally become the Fabulous Sedentary.

I have just been getting familiar with Tippett's Piano Concerto, and that is a bloody knockout, not necessarily for the Machine Stops but for something that is a little like Ballet Imperial a la Moderne or something. Tippett's orchestrations are as elegant as any I've ever heard, and even more than in this Piano Concerto, you can hear the perfected and well-tempered orchestra in his symphonies. I wonder if anybody has ever seen Tippett's work danced to, because along with Britten, these are probably the masters of 20th Century English Music.

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Has anyone ever done Kafka's "The Metamorphosis"?

Yes - David Bintley did it in his early days, for the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet. It was rather good. You never saw Gregor after his change, so the ballet was actually about his sister, Leanne Benjamin in her first created role, and his parents. I don't think it's been seen in twenty years or so but I remember it with - not pleasure, but some admiration. The music was by Peter McGowan, who at the time was a violinist in the SWRB orchestra.

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Thank you, Jane, for that information. The idea of keeping Gregor invisible after becoming an insect is a wonderful one. Only after a couple of readings over the decade did I come to realize that the centrality of Grete to this story.

Do you happen to remember how Bintley's ballet ended? Was there light, lightness, and possibly even a metamorphsis for Grete herself ... into a kind of dancing butterfly? Was her new freedom handled joyfully? Or ironically?

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Do you happen to remember how Bintley's ballet ended? Was there light, lightness, and possibly even a metamorphsis for Grete herself ... into a kind of dancing butterfly? Was her new freedom handled joyfully? Or ironically?

None of those. I don't actually remember the ending but looking at the reviews it seems that Bintley deliberately left it open to question and interpretation. Jann Parry wrote in Dance & Dancers:

'[Grete's final solo] is heavy with the responsibility she accepts for getting rid of the creature she can no longer consider her brother. The burden is lifted from her family and the room floods with light. As the music comes to a close, Grete puts the flat in order and arranges the perplexing ending.

Apparently, on the first night, Gregor's reappearance as himself was a surprise for most of the cast... I think it is his way of showing that his story is different from Kafka's; or perhaps he means that the beetle's death allows the family to remember Gregor as he really was... Or maybe it's just a good idea for a curtain call.'

On the other hand, Mary Clarke in the Dancing Times thought that perhaps Grete's love had redeemed Gregor and returned him to normal life.

(It's relevant that apparently Bintley said to his cast at the the first rehearsal 'You've read the book - well, forget it'. Maybe the Kafka ballet is still to be made!)

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'[Grete's final solo] is heavy with the responsibility she accepts for getting rid of the creature she can no longer consider her brother. The burden is lifted from her family and the room floods with light. As the music comes to a close, Grete puts the flat in order and arranges the perplexing ending.

Apparently, on the first night, Gregor's reappearance as himself was a surprise for most of the cast... I think it is his way of showing that his story is different from Kafka's; or perhaps he means that the beetle's death allows the family to remember Gregor as he really was... Or maybe it's just a good idea for a curtain call.'

On the other hand, Mary Clarke in the Dancing Times thought that perhaps Grete's love had redeemed Gregor and returned him to normal life.

(It's relevant that apparently Bintley said to his cast at the the first rehearsal 'You've read the book - well, forget it'. Maybe the Kafka ballet is still to be made!)

"\

Thanks, Jane.

"You've read the book -- well, forget it." That sounds like the instructions given to the adaptors of literature for a great deal of ballet, and opera and musical theater too . In other words: "Borrow the parts of the plot that I like and forget the rest." Instrusions of sentimentality -- a happy, unambiguously redemptive ending for Grete and her family -- miss the mark. On the other hand, this kind of thing is easier to do on the stage than either ambiguity or irony. So ... the Bintley Kafka is better than no Kafka at all. I guess. :o

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I have one that I would like to see. That's Anna Karenina. Imagine dramatic pas de deuxs, beautiful ball scenes, gorgeus costumes, and music by....hhhm...why not Tchaikovsky? Any thoughts!!

Thank you for starting the topic, premierdanseur. It's true that this subject is a recurrent one on the board, but it's worth reviving from time to time even at the risk of a little repetition. The Eifman Ballet did an Anna recently, which wasn't great but it was watchable, and certainly the audience at the performance I saw enjoyed it hugely. I haven't checked but I think it was a Tchaikovsky score.

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I have just posted this in another thread, but I have a very deep desire to see a ballet to Michael Ondaatje's novel The English Patient. It is such an epic love story, that is so screaming to be turned into a ballet.

The love story, by itself, presents amazing possibilities; but all the portions of the book when Almazy describes the desert and the winds... those could so easily translate into those abstract moments of glory like that of the shadows in La Bayadere.

Visually, it could be inspired in Anthony Minghella's adaptation to film, and it could use the so very fantastic music that Gabriel Yared composed for it. Gabriel Yared is a fantastic musician, and I have no doubt he could very much make a fabulous arrangement and epic suites to dance to...

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Dracula, I suppose. :dunno:

Now a Fall of the House of Usher ---

I saw a clip of "Fall of the House of Usher" by the Royal Ballet on tv a few weeks ago. It was not impressive and not very goth.

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James Canfield's Dracula, made for Oregon Ballet Theater, has its goth moments.

I'd be interested in seeing a steampunk influenced ballet, though I'm not sure whose repertory it might fit in with.

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Consider this: Both The Nutcracker and Coppélia have libretti by the original "Mr. Goth", E.T.A. Hoffman.

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Consider this: Both The Nutcracker and Coppélia have libretti by the original "Mr. Goth", E.T.A. Hoffman.

Libretti based on his work anyway (he died in 1822)--and rather less gothic than their Hoffmann sources...though productions may well choose to underline Hoffmanesque elements.

La Sonnambula (or Night Shadow as it was once called) and La Valse are rather 'goth' or gothic in tone--even if they are the work of a choreographer generally known as neo-classic. (Probably Gaspard de la Nuit too, but my memory of that ballet is very vague--similarly Cotillion which I saw once in the Joffrey's reconstruction of it.)

The dark cartoonish critics of Robert Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze also have a gothic quality--especially as they stand out against the Casper Friedrich inspired backdrop; but I have never thought that that moment of the ballet 'worked'--it's at once too literal and too exaggerated and almost seems (unintentionally) giggle worthy.

There may be other examples in Balanchine's oeuvre as well--at least I would not be surprised since that was definitely one of the colors on his palette albeit not one he used very prominently or often.

On topic? There is a huge world of fantasy literature out there; it's not a genre I read, but it's hard for me to believe it would not supply some intriguing stories that might be at home on the ballet stage.

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Consider this: Both The Nutcracker and Coppélia have libretti by the original "Mr. Goth", E.T.A. Hoffman.

Libretti based on his work anyway (he died in 1822)--and rather less gothic than their Hoffmann sources...though productions may well choose to underline Hoffmanesque elements.

The Pacific Northwest Ballet production does point up some of the darker elements, especially the part of the story where the young girl is bitten by a rat and becomes ugly.

On topic? There is a huge world of fantasy literature out there; it's not a genre I read, but it's hard for me to believe it would not supply some intriguing stories that might be at home on the ballet stage.

I read an interview recently with an author who had written screenplays for a couple of his novels, and I think I can boil his lengthy and detailed comments down to this -- films are about what you can see. It's possible to "show" an interior process, but more often than not, the parts of a novel that translate well to film are the parts that can use the visual world to communicate the story. I think that holds for dance as well.

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Michael Pink's Dracula (which was made for Northern Ballet in 1996) is very gothic. I think they may still perform it at Milwaukee as well as New Zealand. We also saw it in Atlanta and it was presented in Oslo. The sets and costumes by Lez Brotherston are utterly fabulous and the score by Philip Feeney is serious drive faster music. In its years in the NB rep it attracted a following among the British Gothic community and we often used to see groups of them in the various theatres. We were usually glad we weren't sitting behind them due to the Gothic hairstyles!

Northern Ballet now has David Nixon's Dracula - not quite as gothic but a very fine production.

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Colorado Ballet also performed Pink's "Dracula" last October and in 2006.

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Has anyone ever done a "Phantom of the Opera" ballet? That would be a stunning work with powerful music, costumes and production value!

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