garybruce

Edward Villella on video: clips only

64 posts in this topic

Thanks, Bart -- but if I said Tarantella by mistake, the Divertimento Brillante is opposite in character from BOTH Tchai pas and Tarantella -- which are similar in being virtuoso entertainments with big sweeping phrases and large emotional appeal. Neither Tchai pas nor Tarantella have the hectic geeky spastic choppiness of DB....

Paul, thanks for your explanatiaons about the Glinka pieces. I think there is some confusion about the following, however:
Bart wrote:
"Does anyone know why Glinkiana was quickly split up into separate short ballets? My dim memories of this from the late 60s was that it didn't really cohere as a single long piece, anyway. It certainly made sense for Villella have offered the pdd separately when guesting or for tv. It certainly worked as an alternative to Tchaikovsky pdd, which everyone had already seen many times.

Bart, have you SEEN "Divertimento Brillante"? From what I remember of the production RG mentions, the CBC broadcast, it could NEVER substitute in hte public's affections for Tarantella; it's not very likable, the music and hte dancing are both brittle and geeky and hectic in their phrasing -- the piano part is written so as to encourage capricious rhythms, sort of cadenza-like, so it never builds up any sweep or momentum -- it is the opposite in its appeal from Tarantella, which builds and builds and overwhelms us with delight.

I was thinking of the Glinka pdd as an alternative to the Tchaikovsky -- not that they are similar, so much, as that the both offered audience-pleasing opportunities for the dancers.

I'm grateful to those who have spoken of Villella as a stage animal. I sometimes get to see him introduce the same MCB program 3 or 4 times, and I've been amazed at how confidently, consistently, smoothly he does it. What comes to mind is not the young Villella dancing; it's more like the older Sinatra singing -- mellow, beautifully spun out, with just a hint of the schmooze.

He always walks out from the break in the curtain, center stage. A mike and stool await him. He appears almost shy when entering, as if not knowing what to expect. Then he sits and talks. Sometimes he says the same things, word for word, in each presentation. At other times, he takes off in an improvised and entirely unexpected direction.

You can tell which ballets he prefers by the amount of time he devotes to them. Some works, get very little time indeed. Balanchine -- always -- is the Gold Standard. It's fascinating to observe.

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Aren't you being a bit unfair to Divertimento Brillante? Not everything has to have the impact of Tchaikovsky pdd to be appealing and likeable. What you see "hectic geeky spastic choppiness" I see as a conversational rhythm. She says, he says, she says, sometimes they talk together, sometimes they stop talking for a moment.

They say rather clever things to each other and it's all inventive and light, if a bit rambling and disjointed. His variation has some trully lovely and virtuoso moments. That's appealing and likeable enough for me and I can understand how others too might find DB a refreshing change to a steady diet of the Tchai pdd, as bart says.

A bit off-topic, but I've been wondering how Baryshnikov with his russian way of phrasing things danced Divertimento Brillante. It's the only one of Villella's roles that musically and choreographically seems imho better suited to Baryshnikov than to Villella. His breathing, legatto phrasing might even smooth out some of that feeling of "choppiness". Has anyone seen him in this?

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re: Baryshnikov and DIVERTIMENTO BRILLANTE - as someone who helped compile and vet the chronology of roles for BARYSHNIKOV IN BLACK AND WHITE (the most recent listing of this kind, so far as i know) i can say that this Glinka pas de deux was not in his repertory.

as has been indicated, once it was dropped from GLINKAIANA, DIVERTIMENTO BRILLANTE more or less disappeared from active repertory until Villella restaged it himself for Miami City Ballet, where it would seem it didn't stay around very long.

[if anyone has information different from this i'd be pleased to learn it.]

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I might be off-topic here, but are we talking about Glinka pas de trois, or Glinkaiana? In any rate, I can help with a small story about Glinka pas de trois, and why it disappeared from MCB's rep.... But we may be talking about a different ballet....

I remember when I was training with Miami City Ballet School before joining the company, I was cast with two others to dance Glinka Pas de Trois. We rehearsed with Nancy Raffa at the time, for about four months, and the day before the performance, the director of the school, Linda Villella, informed us that the school no longer had the rights to perform Glinka Pas de Trois. Our teachers later informed us that the company was stripped of their rights to perform the work, because whomever came to stage the ballet on the company, didn't feel the dancers were fit for the roles.

I then had to plod through Swan Lake pas de trois, and was all but less than thrilled.

Again, sorry if this is off-topic.

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the dances in question here are different [see credits below], as you can see, the Pas de Trois, to music from Glinka's opera RUSLAN AND LUDMILLA, was a stand-alone work Balanchine choreographed in 1955, while the pas de deux that ended GLINKAIANA ("Divertimento Brillante") with McBride and Villella was created '67.

The former was brought back briefly into NYCB repertory for a Balanchine Celebration in '93, but not to the best of my knowledge since. (it may be in repertory somewhere nowadays, but i'm not aware of it if it is.) The latter, as noted above, was not revived by NYCB for its '93 celebration.

PAS DE TROIS

Music: By Mikhail Glinka (ballet music from Ruslan and Ludmilla [Act III vision scene], produced 1842).

Choreography: By George Balanchine.

Production: Costumes by Karinska. Lighting by Jean Rosenthal.

Premiere: March 1, 1955, New York City Ballet, City Center of Music and Drama, New York. Conductor: Leon Barzin.

Cast: Melissa Hayden, Patricia Wilde, André Eglevsky

GLINKIANA (later called GLINKAIANA)

Music: By Mikhail Glinka.

Choreography: By George Balanchine.

Production: Scenery, costumes, and lighting by Esteban Francés.

Premiere: November 23, 1967, New York City Ballet, New York State Theater. Conductor: Robert Irving.

Cast: POLKA: Violette Verdy, Paul Mejia, 3 couples; VALSE FANTAISIE: Mimi Paul, John Clifford, 4 women; JOTA ARAGONESE: Melissa Hayden, 6 women, 8 men; DIVERTIMENTO BRILLANTE: Patricia McBride, Edward Villella.

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I think the 1967 Divertimento Brillante was revived by the Suzanne Farrell Ballet in February, 2007. Can your computer play RealMedia? Then you can watch it. (If it can't, RealPlayer is a free download.)

Here's a link to our thread about that program:

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.p...mp;#entry200228

My posts #17 and #10 there may help; the first one has a link to the Kennedy Center's video archive search page, where you have to enter or select search terms in the three boxes to get to the page where the link to the video is.

I suggest using these terms: Farrell; February, 2007; ballet. Then after a couple of clicks and maybe a bit of luck (never hurts), the video starts to play, and you can use the suggestions in Post #10 to nudge your player to play just Divertimento Brillante or whatever part you want of her program.

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thanks for the correction, Jack.

you recall correctly, my search for past Farrell co perfs. confirms what you recall.

good to know and report that DIVERTIMENTO BRILLANTE has been around and may be around again.

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The "Brigadoon" was screened during a TV musicals festival at the Museum of Television and Broadcasting. Edward Villella plays Harry Beaton - the doomed townsman who is rejected by Bonnie Jean and dies trying to escape from Brigadoon. Its a dancing role created by James Mitchell originally. He has a very James Dean/Marlon Brando presence onscreen - lots of Method brooding. Not a lot of dialogue. He isn't very convincing as a Scotsman.

The rest of the cast includes the very lovely, really definitive Sally Ann Howes and Robert Goulet. It was produced for TV by Armstrong, the paint and floor tile company. During one break Goulet walks into one of the mock-up Brigadoon cottages and it just happens to be a little Armstrong showroom! Goulet then does a little spiel for Armstrong home products right there in Brigadoon village. I wanted to buy some of the vintage sixties products but the problem is...they're only open once in a hundred years. Oh well, maybe in my next lifetime...

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During one break Goulet walks into one of the mock-up Brigadoon cottages and it just happens to be a little Armstrong showroom! Goulet then does a little spiel for Armstrong home products right there in Brigadoon village.
Thanks, Faux Pas, for reminding me that the "good old {not-so-commercial) days" weren't quite as pure as I remember them.
I wanted to buy some of the vintage sixties products but the problem is...they're only open once in a hundred years. Oh well, maybe in my next lifetime...
:P:angry2:

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During one break Goulet walks into one of the mock-up Brigadoon cottages and it just happens to be a little Armstrong showroom! Goulet then does a little spiel for Armstrong home products right there in Brigadoon village.
:P Sounds like a clumsy precursor to today's ubiquitous product placements.

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As someone who worked with Edward, I have to say that he was a great man. We used to do lecture demonstrations at various schools when he ran the New Jersey ballet (Late 1970's, early 1980's). I never saw someone who loved passing on dance like he did... and he liked to push us to our limits.

In 1969 Life magazine ran a story about Villella, "Is This Man the Country's Best Athlete?" Two years later, Sports illustrated featured him in the profile "Encounter with an athlete".

around the time of the article, it came out in the press that doctors had ex-rayed his (Villella's) feet in the middle of the season and found that every bone in his foot had been broken at least once, some of them twice and some were still broken, although he was still dancing on them. They (Sports Illustrated) proclaimed ballet dancers the greatest athletes (and it was around then that many a football coach started sending their players to ballet class to build strength and grace on the field. In my case, he often pushed me to do things that I had never done before.

I have enclosed a link to the article. I hope others enjoy it and get much out it.

http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...85347/index.htm

Thanks, garybruce. Here's the link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6vjoxIdPfs

It's a wonderful segment, and even better -- I think -- if you replay it without the smaaltzy music (which has little do to with the choreography, anyway). I love Villella's opening: the handsome closeup followed by his graceful hand-miming of "dance." You definitely get a sense of VIllella's stage presence and charisma, qualities which grew over time. One of the things I remember is the way which, once he matured, he could hold your eye even when standing still and looking with concentration at his partner. It's one of the qualities which made him a much better Siegfried than people who never saw him in these roles might think.

:beg: It was good to see even a clip of Kukla and Ollie at the beginning of the segment. Also -- PLEASE! -- stick around at the end for the Bacchus After-Shave commercial. First I thought it was some sort of Monty Python take-off. WAS there such a product? And was there ever a real ad campaign like this? :beg:

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It's not currently done, but certainly recoverable. It wasn't great Balanchine, but pleasant, attractive and well-made. Sort of in the same lot with "Pas de Deux and Divertissements", Classical Revival (as opposed to Neo-Classicism) as entertainment.

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As a light footnote to one of Jemil Akman's remarks, I recall someone asking Villella at the end of one of his pre-performance talks in recent years whether it was true that football players study ballet. "Only the best ones," was Villella's instant answer.

I was glad to read Jemil's testimonial to Villella's quality, and I hope I won't be thought to disagree with it in any way, but for me, the greatest testimonial to Villella's recent decades is Miami City Ballet's quality of dancing. I used to think their Jewels evening was their best, but they keep surpassing their own previous standards, and judgements like that become dated...

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