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Ashton's version of "La Valse"how does it compare to Balanchine and others?


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#16 Quiggin

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 01:59 PM

I don't know if this is the place to post them but here are flickr links to two lovely photographs of Cotillon, the parent ballet of the three “glove ballets” of Balanchine: "La Sonnambula," "Liebeslieder Walzer," but especially so of "La Valse."

http://www.flickr.co...N00/3821923504/
Cotillon: scherzo-valse: Baronova, Lichine and Morosova

http://www.flickr.co...N00/3821923956/
Cotillon: menuet pompeux: Baronova and Morosova

"Cotillon" was designed by Christian Bérard, who also suggested some of its scenes, in which “the ballet’s props--satin swags, paper hats, fans, tambourines and guitars -- seem to have become instruments of magic,” according to Boris Kochno, who wrote the storyline of the ballet--which he based on “illustrations from etiquette manuals, parlor games and drawing room dances of the late 19c."

“One such inspiration [of Bérard’s] had Toumanova, a dancer, reveal in the middle of a waltz that she was really a fortune teller then had her read the palms of the guests at the ball all of whom were wearing gloves. She conjured up images of their futures, including a young girl turning into a chimera with bat’s wings and a lovers’ meeting that ended in a duel.”


Karinska executed the "Cotillon" costumes for Bérard and later designed those of "La Valse." Bérard mentored Christian Dior and may be the spiritual father of Dior’s New Look that in turn (re)informed "La Valse." He also designed the costumes and sets for the first "Mozartiana."

Bérard was the son of the architect of the city of Paris, attended the top knotch Lycee Janson de Sailly (at the same time as Julien Green and Michel Leiris) and lived his life in a sort of squalorous reverse luxury. According to Cecil Beaton,

With his fine beak-like nose, his untidy red bard and lank wisps of silken hair...he would walk down the Quais in his dirty, cigarette-ash covered shirt, his soiled coat and unbuttoned trousers, with his dirty little dog Jacinthe hooked underneath his arm, the quintessence of French taste and elegance...


Picture by Cartier Bresson of Bérard Theatre Arts, 1949:

http://www.flickr.co...N00/3821925682/ C B by C-B

Christian Bérard, France’s great scenic artist, fell dead last February 12 on the stage of a Paris theatre. Painter, decorator, enigma, romantic, he was inspirational source of such diverse arts as Cocteau’s film fantasies, Dior’s couture, Fokine’s ballet, his sets for “The Madwoman of Chaillot” are a delight of this New York season. Many saw an ironic fitness in the dramatic coincidence of Christian Bérard’s death during the rehearsal of a Moliere play--for in 1673 Moliere, too, died on the stage of a Paris theartre.


There are also tantalizing clips of both ballets on the Balanchine bio DVD. "Cotillon" appears to have be photographed on lovely old Kodachrome.

Claudia Roth Pierpont in Ballet Review, Summer 1990 discusses the glove ballets, "Liebeslieder" being "the richest of 'Cotillon’s' successors" where Balanchine "becomes his own Kochno, his own Bérard" and suffuses all the props and the tricks into the surface of the ballet itself.

#17 dirac

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 02:17 PM

Thank you for those links, Quiggin. That quote from Pierpont is wonderfu, and I wasn't familiar with it.

#18 bart

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 02:27 PM

Here are clickable versions of those three photo links:

http://www.flickr.co...N00/3821923504/ Cotillon: scherzo-valse: Baronova, Lichine and Morosova

http://www.flickr.co...N00/3821923956/ Cotillon: menuet pompeux: Baronova and Morosova

http://www.flickr.co...N00/3821925682/ C B by C-B

Thanks, Quiggan, especially for putting this in context:

Cotillon, the parent ballet of the three “glove ballets” of Balanchine: "La Sonnambula," "Liebeslieder Walzer," but especially so of "La Valse."



#19 Helene

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 03:46 PM

Many thanks for the photos and the background information, Quiggin!

#20 bart

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 04:42 PM

While we're detouring to Balanchine, here's Croce, writing in 1969:

Of Cotillon, the most affectionately rememberd of Balanchine's unsurviving works, Lincoln Kirstein wrote in 1935: "If Balanchine never read Proust, it is of no importance. He absorbed from Chabrier's brilliant music the acrid perfume of adolescence; divinity felt by young dancers at their first ball, heady with their own youth, shyness and insecurity, masking it all in false boredom, and the frightened indifference of aching wall-flowers at the heartbreak ball."

In a famous passage called "The Hand of Fate," a woman guest in black gloves forces a young man to dance with her. The woman is a vampire in disguise. This conceit of Kochno's returns, in La Valse, in the figure of Death, along with the black gloves and the finale, in which the company surrounds the heroine in a rushing circle.

Cotillon was set by its designer, Christian Berard, in a mansion ballroom ringed by a tier of boxes; the cut of the women's gowns inspired Karinska's costumes in La Valse. Although it was revived only once, by the Original Ballet Russe in 1940, it has lingered to haunt the repertory in other ballets besides La Valse -- notably in the second movement of Bourree Fantasque and in one of the Trois Valse Romantiques which actually is Cotillon music rechoreographed.

La Valse, the Cotillon of the fifties, is not a heartbreak ball; it is a Vanity Fair encompassing the death-wish of an egregiously permissive society. As in La Sonnambula, the horrible denouement comes not altogether as a surprise. And it really is horrible, although we're permitted to be amused by a good deal of what comes before ...



#21 carbro

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 09:16 PM

I don't know if this is the place to post them but here are flickr links to two lovely photographs of Cotillon, the parent ballet of the three "glove ballets" of Balanchine: "La Sonnambula," "Liebeslieder Walzer," but especially so of "La Valse."

And perhaps the Rosenkavalier section of Vienna Waltzes, which starts out with muted dark tones and works its way to happy resolution.

Not to be picky or contrary, but don't we have gloves in Stars & Stripes? :angel_not:

I never thought of "glove ballet" as a genre. It's a good one to keep in mind -- sans S&S.


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