Nanarina

ASHTON'S La Fille Mal Gardee in the 2000's.

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Don't try to psychoanalyze somebody you've only met just today, and for less than two hours).

Well, the thing is that we've known Alain for quite a long time already, and his demeanor really seems to fall under a certain DSM-IV R Axis...! (Giselle's too, BTW, as the poor girl is certainly a Risk for Suicide target...and even suicidal in some incarnations)

I just don't think it works.

I actually find it interesting.

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I don't know; could they? While at first this seems to fall under the "no-Freud" rule (If it's from before Freud was common coin, no Freud.), I think it really falls under the "don't judge a book from its cover" rule of social engagement. (Don't try to psychoanalyze somebody you've only met just today, and for less than two hours).

I meant that they possibly could if the other things like the Asperger's could be inferred; in other words, I never do any of this. The 'no-Freud rule' is not always observed anyway, even it's Marx instead. Marxist's don't apply the no-Freud rule to Marx ever, and often even say, more or less, people should have known better than to be ruling class., and that past social developments and evolutions are quite as inexcusable in hindsight as existing terrible conditions are.

It might be intellectually useful to observe characters in various dramas, but to tell you the truth, we rarely have enough behavior to follow. Using psychological techniques may help us to understand the Romantic movement, say, or the pre-Classic period here, but it rarely enhances our enjoyment. If it does for you, bully for you, and I would be the last person to deprive you of enjoyment, but I just don't think it works.

Just so long as you don't want to deprive me of enjoyment, except that I begin to think I can't write comprehensibly, because my whole drift was that none of it gives me any enjoyment at all, and often doesn't respect history. I don't want brainwashed and sterilizied 'Le Bayaderes', if I have to have one. I am not balletomane enough to care for it even tainted properly with period racism. Am I now clear, or have I only misunderstood you in that you had not misunderstood me the first time? In any case, Asperger's Syndrome Analysis decidedly will never enhance my 'Fille mal Gardee' experience, and I think James may be more to blame than the Sylph anyway, so gets punishment instead of therapy. In other words, I don't think it works either, but bully for you is good.

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Fascinating discussion. Like Cristian, I enjoy diagnosing (or psychoanalyzing) fictional characters and find nothing wrong with it at all. The richer the character, the more he or she can bear a variety of interpretations. As in: "Is Hamlet suffering from a bad case of the Oedipus Complex? Discuss."

Also -- :beg: -- don't forget the question about dvd performances.

I've only seen the Royal Ballet dvd with Lesley Collier and Michael Coleman, to designs by Osbert Lancaster. How does that peformance compare to others you have seen?

And how about other dvds? Amazon has The Australian Ballet production of the Ashton ballet, with Fiona Tonkin, and David McAllister. Nanarina recommended this above. Amazon also has a dvd of a version by Heinz Spoerli for Basler Ballett, with Valentina Kozlova and Chris Jensen. Any comments about either of those?

:)

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Fascinating discussion. Like Cristian, I enjoy diagnosing (or psychoanalyzing) fictional characters and find nothing wrong with it at all. The richer the character, the more he or she can bear a variety of interpretations. As in: "Is Hamlet suffering from a bad case of the Oedipus Complex? Discuss."

Yes, I can see from this discussion that I am distinctly allergic to almost all psychoanalysis, although I've gotten some interesting things from reading Jung, far more than Freud or Lacan. Being as well one of those who totally resists any kind of psychotherapist (having spend a minimum amount of time--about 8 sessions between 2 doctors that was reducible to grief counseling) I'd much rather read the Norse mythologies about the Ring Cycle, and I can read Sophocles or Euripides or Racine without any reference to what somebody later on started proving in between accounts of Dora and the Rat Man, which always sound a lot more like Kafka than they do anything Greek. As for the ballets, I'm a thousand times more interested in Mme. D'Aulnoy and Charles Perrault.

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without any reference to what somebody later on started proving in between accounts of Dora and the Rat Man

:smilie_mondieu::yahoo::rofl: (....Oops, i'm sorry, but i couldn't resist!)...But back to the original subject of "Fille"...

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If we think of ballet characters as cartoons (which is what enables interpreters to make each their own), and acknowledge, I see no reason not to acknowledge that Ashton, or Dauberval for that matter, created a sketch based on a recognizable type. We can label it or not, which has no effect on what it is. If you come to this discussion as a performer, you probably would want to resist the labeling, seeing that labeling can easily lead to stereotyping. But if a label helps an audience member see something more clearly, then fine.

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I also see Alain as possibly being on the autistic spectrum, but it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the ballet; for me, it enhances it. Every odd character in every book, play, film, ballet, etc. can be recognized as a clinical "type" by those with some kind of experience in the field. It doesn't change who the character is.

I coach/tutor individuals with social and cognitive challenges. Some are on the "autistic spectrum," which includes Asperger's, others are clinically mentally ill. I have a sister with MS-related dementia and corresponding mental illness. So it's only natural that I view the world through the prism of my experiences and professional knowledge in that realm. I LOVE thinking about characters in the ballets I've seen, and wondering what they'd be like as students. Like all of us, I'm bringing my own experiences to the ballet with me. Other people with other types of knowledge and experiences will notice and think about the ballet in a way that I might not understand. Sharing our own insights with each other is what makes being human such an interesting and lively experience :clapping:

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(quote) i have danced Fille many times in a couple of different companies and I agree with the fact that it is probably one of the quintessential English ballets. A perfect ballet to take the "first timer" to.

(quote)

A friend of mine, a former dancer, saw it last year in Paris and loved it. DIdn't get a lot of details, except that her husband (who's not a dancer) loved it even more than she did.

The French dancers who've moved here and dance with San Francisco Ballet ALL seem to have a great sense of humor and a natural feel for gesture, so I bet they do do it well. But htat's just my guess.

Still, I know what you mean about its Englishness. In fact, Edwin denby commented on its mild gentle Englishness in his review of Fille and wondered if Americans would feel the charm. As Glebb recalls, it does seem to go from highlight to highlight -- but it does that without ever going for some over-the-top feat of bravura. Even when Lise is leaping about or spinning in hte midst of all those ribbons there are no show-stopping effects --

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I've not seen the ballet recently.

I first saw it at Kennedy Center in the 70s - Merle Park and Nureyev.

The chickens, Rudy bursting out of the bales of hay, Park hanging from his arms in the window - legs doing tick-tock, the ribbons, maypole and clog dances I recall the most.

In the 80s I had the honor of dancing Alain having been taught by Faith Worth and coached by Alexander Grant. My Widow Simon was none other than Stanley Holden! When I look back I can't help but be extremely thankful for those experiences.

:clapping: Hello glebb I expect you really enjoyed dancing Alain, it is such a comical role, but very clever the way "Sir Fred" used the steps, to make him what he is. I love the way he shoots his arm up to match Lise's arabesque, and conducts with the flute. No doubt you did not stray from the original choreography and mime, not like some of the dancers on tour. Often certain girls in the corp de ballet, found Alain thought it was amusing for them to get their posterers pinched, and on one occasion at the end of a tour, a certain dancer named John Sale (a close friend) had discovered a joke shop in the town we were performing, and he had a large plastic spidar in his pocket, and a big spot on his cheek, much to all the performers amusement. The bosses had all left the theatre, so they got away with it !!

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:clapping:

This ballet is so essentially English, I wonder how other companies abroad, cope with the role portrayal.

Beautiful memories Nanarina-(BTW, i love your screenname :blink: ). I grew up watching "Fille" in regular basis in Havana. It's still a highly appreciated ballet among cuban balletomanes, and Mme. Alonso keeps presenting it every year, non stopping. Particularly one Principal Ballerina of the 70's-80's, Maria Elena Llorente, was well known for dancing the role-(which in Cuba i knew by the name of Lissette, her counterpart as Colin). This production is Mme.'s own revival dated from 1952, and it's still in active repertoire.

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=e...D1%26ie%3DUTF-8

:thumbsup: Cuban...... Lets hope it continues to be performed for many years to come. My thoughts on it's "English essence mainly concerned certain contenental companies.

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:clapping:

The last time I saw it was with ABT and it's one of the best things I"ve ever seen them do. You would have thought the ballet was set on them, about a week ago. (Alexander Grant staged it.) The cast was Ashley Tuttle and Ethan Stiefel, with Kirk Peterson as the Widow Simone. They had the tone right, the mime right, the dancing was musical, the audience howled, the critics wrote and wrote and WROTE about it -- and I don't think they've done it since. :thumbsup:

What a shame, why do you think they have not performed it again ? I like Ethan Stiefel, he is excellent, not quite so familiar with Ashley Tuttle, what would you think about Paloma Herrera as Lise ?

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La Fille... have always been a favorite of mine and i enjoyed the ABT staging a few years ago. Apparently,it was not a big crowd-drawer and it has not been repeated. I wished ABT would do it next season. Herman and Sarah would be wonderful in this ballet, i think. :clapping::thumbsup:

I heard that this was the case at the POB, it was not very popular, peopel got the impression it was more for children, which is as we all know not the case. It is a wonderful opportuinity to see something charming and light hearted'

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A friend of mine, a former dancer, saw it last year in Paris and loved it. DIdn't get a lot of details, except that her husband (who's not a dancer) loved it even more than she did.

The French dancers who've moved here and dance with San Francisco Ballet ALL seem to have a great sense of humor and a natural feel for gesture, so I bet they do do it well. But htat's just my guess.

Still, I know what you mean about its Englishness. In fact, Edwin denby commented on its mild gentle Englishness in his review of Fille and wondered if Americans would feel the charm. As Glebb recalls, it does seem to go from highlight to highlight -- but it does that without ever going for some over-the-top feat of bravura. Even when Lise is leaping about or spinning in hte midst of all those ribbons there are no show-stopping effects --

In the UK when in the Cornfield scene pas de deux Lise balances on one pointe, holding the eight ribbons, there used to be a great re-action from the audience. But on the whole Ashton created technical brilliance in a quiet manner, the main applause came at the end of the scene or performance, not generally to disrput the performance.

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Nanarina - Alain was one of the great gifts of my career! Again I can't believe my good fortune in getting that role.

I don't remember if it was in NY or LA but a critic wrote that my Alain was 'haunted by the ghost of Petrouchka' and I loved that review. Also Jerry Lewis complimented me on my portrayal of Alain!

I was also naughty once in a while in that same scene you described. My naughtiness had to do more with ballet technique but I did love the hugs.

I must say that though I often danced The Boy in Blue and Puck - Alain was not easier to dance even if it appeared easier.

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I lucked into last-minute tickets for "Fille" at Paris Opera Ballet last summer. (Hubby, bless him, didn't blanch a bit at paying top dollar.) It was thoroughly charming, as everyone says. As it was a first for me, I cannot say if the French "got it" as well as the Brits.

I wonder if anyone else has thoughts about an observation I had: that the character of Alain is autistic or has Asperger's syndrome. It seemed a pretty dead-on characterization to me: socially awkward, fixated on his umbrella, and if I remember correctly, with awkward and stereotyped movements (although maybe I'm making that last bit up). I've heard him described as a simpleton, but it seemed to me there was much more to him than that.

:clapping: Alain, in the early days of Ashton's version, was just a simple country bumpkin, the kind of person you could find in a very rural English village, where a considerable amount of "inbreeding" had gone on. When there was not a lot of movement between the outside world. Although he was the son of a Rich Farmer, he was very un-sophisticated, you only have to see how his Father twirls the curl on the top of his head, when he is disapointed. He is just like a child, riding his umbrella like a pony, wanting the flute, etc. The idea seemed to be that the role was to amuse and make the audience laugh. I never heard any suggestions in rehearsals or in conversations with Dancers who were to portray Alain, that the characrer was nothing more than funny, amusing in a way to entertain the ausience. I never got the impression there was anything darker or suggestive of a certain condiditon.

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:clapping:

Well, that's the thing, I wasn't thinking at all. It just seemed very clear to me. I'm wondering if there's anyone familiar with autism spectrum disorders who has seen Fille who had the same thought.

And, why not?

:thumbsup: Lets not get too technical, Alain is jsut a simpleton in the Ballet, no more no less, he is to amuse and make the sudience laugh , albeit a little cruel laughing at his expense, perhaps something we would not do in real life.

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Nanarina - Alain was one of the great gifts of my career! Again I can't believe my good fortune in getting that role.

I don't remember if it was in NY or LA but a critic wrote that my Alain was 'haunted by the ghost of Petrouchka' and I loved that review. Also Jerry Lewis complimented me on my portrayal of Alain!

I was also naughty once in a while in that same scene you described. My naughtiness had to do more with ballet technique but I did love the hugs.

I must say that though I often danced The Boy in Blue and Puck - Alain was not easier to dance even if it appeared easier.

:wink::clapping: Hi again glebb I can agree with you how demanding playing Alain is, it may look easy, that is down to the prowess of the performer

When we used to go to eat after the performance, the Dancer who had played Alain, was always as tired as the people who had danced Colas and Lise.

I take it you have read all the comments about the definitian of Alain's condition or what he suffered from. Do you ever feel that you were acting anything other than a simple village charater, who because of his place in life, was an easy target for people to laugh at ? I feel the subject has got too complex, even gone a little off topic. To me it is sumply Comedy.

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Hi again Nanarina!

I agree with you and think that too much is being made of his condition. Mr. Mel Johnson with his great knowledge and understanding has explained Ashton and Alain very clearly and very simply. I trust his assessment completely and I often ask his advice on many things. I do think that Alain has a dark moment when he realizes he has been betrayed. So I played him light, dark and then light again.

But maybe it's easier to understand Ashton's characters when one is British. I remember sitting behind Lynn Wallis at the MET during 'Enigma Variations' performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet for the 'Ashton Celebration'. I was enjoying the ballet for its beauty, musicality and of course the performances. But I noticed Ms Wallis getting taller and taller in her seat as the final strains of music were playing. I knew it was something, a feeling only a Brit or at least someone whom had danced for Ashton would feel.

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So it's okay to laugh at Alain if he's a simpleton and not if he exhibits socially awkward behaviors we now lump together under a particular diagnosis?

I wasn't trying to imply that Ashton set out to create a character with autism, or any other diagnosis. This suite of diagnoses wasn't even in the public eye when Fille was created. To me, the possibility existed that in creating his character Ashton drew on a set of behaviors he had observed somewhere, that are very different from what we expect of most people in a particular situation, and that often cause a great deal of discomfort and not-very-nice laughter in response.

We call this type of thinking "a hypothesis". Then we seek information to confirm or deny it. So far, I have not heard anyone who is familiar with autistic-spectrum behaviors say, "No, I have seen these type of behaviors a lot, and Alain's behavior is not characteristic." All I have heard is "don't overthink." Well ... who among you has met a village idiot or simpleton? Read any studies about how village idiots acquire their status? Perhaps, just perhaps, village idiots comprise the set of people who exhibit socially awkward behavior and become the targets of derision. I can tell you as a school teacher that people find non-standard social behavior far more queer and laughable than mere lack of brains.

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All I have heard is "don't overthink."

That may be all you thought about from what you read, but that's not all that was said. Something like a 'village idiot' is a kind of character some of us like to think of in theatrical terms only. Carbro said the allergy to psychoanalysis and clinical types might be because labels, etc., might bring about stereotypes, but actually, I think stereotyping is hardly the problem some of us have, as Commedia dell'Arte is full of these characters. I don't think any of us (at least I don't) care that someone wants to think about modern disease terms or Freudian analyses upon looking at works in which it's not made explicit. As far as the Alain was concerned, what Ashton said about the making of the character would be what interested me; is that irrelevant? He might not always tell everything, that's true.

I think I've met Village Idiots and I know I've met simpletons. Tons of them, too numerous too contemplate. They are more entertaining onstage, and they are surely always exploited--and this is not nice. But many things in old culture don't seem nice to us now, but we accept some of it as having been considered given in their day--such as admiration for the militant and warlike hero, which is distinctly frowned upon since the Vietnam War, but nobody expects heroes in Wagner or Plutarch's accounts of Alexander to need singling out as Phallic Exception Problems. Of course, this may have nothing to do with what you're talking about, but I think those of us in disagreement may have a difference in our taste for seeing such things in certain places. I don't mind socially exploited buffoons if the works haven't yet been banned as too harsh for our sensitive delicate modern tastes. And some director was some months back talking about getting the racism out of Puccini--I guess if was Madama Butterfly, but don't know nor care; they'll always go back to the basic production.

I think Village Idiots have sometimes been revered. Aren't they sometimes considered oracles and consulted on who is to be condemned? Anyway, I'd be interested in the Asperger's Syndrome of Alain if Ashton said something explicitly about it. Otherwise, anything may be fair game for an observer's imagination. Such things take away the magic of the theatrical spell for some of us. I wouldn't ever want to imagine the Mouse King as carrying rabies or Carabosse suffering from AIDS dementia. Apologies if I'm too far off, really not trying to be silly, I just think that theatre exists insulated from much of the literal outside, so not meaning to be offensive. Just not going to do it myself, I guess.

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(down off my high horse now)

I suspect this is a case of different people viewing things through different lenses. I thought it tremendously exciting that a fictional character exhibited (what I thought of as) such interesting, clearly defined behaviors. Not everyone's cup of tea, I know. But it's mine. That's the way I go through life: I look or (or simply notice) patterns and try to make sense of them. Sometimes it does take away the magic of the theatrical spell, but sometimes -- as in this case -- it enriches it.

I agree that it would be very useful if Ashton had spoken about his motivation and models. Does anyone know?

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We don't just laugh at Alain. And we don't laugh at him harshly. He's protected by his simplicity from understanding too much, and nobody dislikes him. As Glebb says, he has a dark moment of realizing he's been fooled -- but his spirits don't suffer long. We laugh at and with virtually everybody in the ballet that we like -- that's part of its charm, and maybe of its mysterious way of seeming to "say something about the human condition" -- la comedie humaine -- but in such a mild way there's no demand to take it seriously. We get to see the things they can't see about themselves -- there's a fair amount of comedy made by putting us in a position to see what's behind somene's back. It's funniest about Alain, but also when Widow Simone is falling asleep, and when Colas is hiding behind the sheaves and Lise's miming "when I am married" -- not to mention the cows who've got their behinds facing us directly in the Lancaster's hilarious scenery. But it's gentle comedy -- nobody's perfect, we see more of the big picture than any of them ever do, except perhaps Alain, who gets the bird's eye view when he's caught up into the heavens.

The very funniest thing I've ever sen in the ballet was David Bintley's nose -- which he made look enormous-- as he played Widow Simone one year when he was setting a ballet on SFB. Bintley sat in the cart on the way to the picnic, looking back and forth alternately at Alain the cretin and Colas the swain -- i.e., showing one profile, then the other, as the cart rolled across the stage -- Widow Simone was thinking, wavering, already on the way to agreeing to let her daughter marry the boy she loved. It was really wonderful, an awesome performance.

Part of what's sunny about it is that people think they need to hide their secrets -- in this ballet, there are lots of secrets that tumble out into the open, and it doesn't do anybody any harm -- to the contrary, it lets the sunshine in and everyone fares the better. In that respect it's liberal and liberating and part of the upsurge of optimism about human nature that brought us the American and French Revolutions and the 1960s.

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I would dearly love to see this ballet again. As you all describe scenes, snippets rush back into memory that I could not recall on my own. (The men grabbing the scythes by the blades, for example :clapping: )

I know the Joffrey has it in their repertoire, and I think it is exactly the sort of charming, smaller story ballet they do so well. But when I have had occasion to ask the artistic staff about performing it, they expressed doubt that it would draw an audience because it has little name recognition. We can always hope, though.

Anyway, how frequently is this ballet performed in the US? Who does it?

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{W}hen I have had occasion to ask the artistic staff about performing it, they expressed doubt that it would draw an audience because it has little name recognition.

Interesting, Understandable. But sad.

It raises an interesting question for Joffrey, and possibly others. How could one "market" this ballet to audiences? Many in the US especially are not not really familiar with Ashton any longer. I'm talking about companies outside the big, historic ballet centers.

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As a family ballet. It has a lot of delights for children. It is also great poster material, and if there are stars in a company, they can do the posters to appeal to the people who always have to see a particular dancer.

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