Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

New choreography???


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 06 March 2001 - 06:05 PM

I'm moving over something mbjerk posted on the Farrell thread that I think is worth discussing on its own: the state of contemporary ballet (in the sense of "what's going on right this minute"), contemporary choreography.

Mbjerk wrote:

Forward does not imply progress, only direction. On that note I would play devil's advocate to your diagnosis, but very half heartedly.

You must admit there are some ballets and choreographers since the eighties (19 not 18) that have produced works to be seen more than once.

----------------------------------------

My question is, what ballets, or what choreographers, have you seen in the past ten years that you think are good. (I hate say "that will last," because nothing from Noverre lasted, but I'm totally convinced from reading his contemporaries and his dancers that he was a great choreographer.)

I can think of several modern dance pieces produced during that time that I would like to see again, but, at least at the moment, if I were given, as a birthday present, the right to have a special gala program made up of ballets choreographed after 1990 -- gosh. Could I take the cash option Posted Image

I thought both Clark Tippett and Philip Jerry promising -- Tippett, immensely so; I only saw two of Jerry's works -- but both are dead. The rest of what I've seen has been either watered down something else, or what, to me, is eminently disposable -- the high energy, pop stuff.

But I may well be overlooking something. What would you take -- post-1990 -- if you were doing a Great Book of the Ballets, or planning that birthday gala?

#2 cargill

cargill

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 645 posts

Posted 06 March 2001 - 07:09 PM

I did like Christopher Wheeldon's Slavonic Dances, though it was a bit long. But the windswept solo of Monique Munieur really stunning. But it would be a very short program. I also was very moved by Leigh Witchel's solo for Peter Boal. And Susan Stroman's very brief piece for NYCB to Duke Ellington with Maria Kowroski as a clutsy ballet dancer was succinct and funny. The thread in these, I see, is the ability to use an individual dancer in an unexpected or different way. I can come up with some other new works I wouldn't mind seeing again if pressed, but the thought of seeing most of the newer pieces would make me run screaming from the room, I'm afraid.


[This message has been edited by cargill (edited March 06, 2001).]

#3 mbjerk

mbjerk

    Senior Member

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts

Posted 06 March 2001 - 08:12 PM

Will the Europeans chime in? I think the last fifteen years have the ballet choreographic center shift from the States.

I agree with Alexandra that both Clark and Philip showed promise, unfortunately taken away.

It does seem here that choreographers have not been given the time to mature - so many one shot attempts or the same shot in mulitple venues. But I digress... the question remains.

#4 CygneDanois

CygneDanois

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 84 posts

Posted 06 March 2001 - 08:29 PM

As far as ABT and NYCB are concerned, Nutcracker (just ABT) and Swan Lake (NYCB)were choreographed after 1990 Posted Image.

------------------
CygneDanois

#5 cargill

cargill

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 645 posts

Posted 06 March 2001 - 08:48 PM

And they are both on the list of ballets I would prefer not to see again!

#6 Victoria Leigh

Victoria Leigh

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 603 posts

Posted 06 March 2001 - 08:52 PM

But CD, neither of those is "contemporary choreography", and certainly neither is anything anyone wants to see again - IMO, of course. Posted Image Neither works are original, although some of the choreography in both are certainly "different". But they are based on traditional work. Unfortunately, again IMO, the changes were NOT for the best. So, while Martins and McKenzie are both contemporary, their works are not, therefore they don't quite fit into this category.

#7 leibling

leibling

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 209 posts

Posted 07 March 2001 - 08:36 PM

I have one piece to name... Empyrean Dances. This was choreographed for Joffrey by Eddie Stierle before he passed away. I saw it in rehearsal... but the reviews were unaminously approving when it opened. He lasted until about three days after the premiere. Anyway, images from this work have stuck in my head for almost ten years now.

#8 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 07 March 2001 - 09:27 PM

I forgot to add two ballets I saw in Copenhagen by Ib Andersen that I liked very much. They were very early works and were still Son of Balanchine, but they had imagination and they *moved*. I've regretted I haven't seen the two dozen or so ballets he's done since.

There's a choreographer working in Washington who interests me as well -- Vladimir Anguelov (I hope I spelled the last name correctly). He's a good craftsman, he works fast, he makes dancers look good. He has worked within extreme limitations -- quality of dancers (small civic-ballet level company or students -- Kirov Academy students, but still students), or money, or doing commissions where he has to choreograph to spec. Most of what I've seen is more character dance than classical, and I havean't always liked them, but I admire them. He did one for Rasta Thomas to "Flight of the Bumble Bee" that was charming and fun, and made Thomas look real and natural [he swallows the bumble bee, and you can see its progression through his system in the choreography, rather like the original conception for a tarantella, when the dancer was bitten by a tarantula].

Anguelov has been getting more commissions in the past year and may be about to break out. I hope he'll be able to do ballets he wants to do, and not just "we need an opening ballet for ten men to this music," and I'll be interested in seeing how he develops.

#9 Natalia

Natalia

    Rubies Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,398 posts

Posted 08 March 2001 - 10:57 AM

There is hope. I can think of the following 1990s choreographic pieces that have delighted me:

#1 by a mile: Boris Eifman - RED GISELLE (THE masterpiece ballet of the 1990s, for me!), TCHAIKOVSKY, BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, to name a few. I was less impressed by his most recent work, RUSSIAN HAMLET. We'll see how his newest work, DON JUAN, fares this spring. Most of you know that Eifman has been showered with prizes worldwide for his oeuvre, not just in his native Russia.

Alexei Ratmansky's DREAMS ABOUT JAPAN and a couple of other shorter pieces that I've seen which, incidentally, have also won major prizes in Russia. What a shame that Ratmansky was unable to choreograph the new NUTCRACKER at the Kirov, as originally scheduled.

Angelin Preljocaj's LE PARC - although it is mostly "modern" (no pointe shoes, etc.) I was surprisingly delighted by it, when performed by POB in NY ca 1996. Tres romantique!

I also admire Vladimir Anguelov's work for Rasta Thomas, Michele Wiles, the Canterna Sisters, and other IBC competition medalists. I too look forward to seeing larger-scaled works from Anguelov, someday.

I have also thoroughly enjoyed Pierre Lacotte's "brand-new choreographies in 19-th c. style" during the past ten years, such as FILLE DU PHARAON, LAC DES FEES, LA GITANE and such. - Jeannie

[This message has been edited by Jeannie (edited March 08, 2001).]

#10 julip

julip

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 68 posts

Posted 17 March 2001 - 11:57 AM

disclaimer--i'm a struggling choreographer so yes, this is a bit of a vent...but there's truth in every vent

*note, this is refering to ballet in the U.S only*

it's true, there have not been many interesting choreographers working in the ballet vocabulary to emerge in the past few years. the people who tend to get alot of time with the spin doctors (wheeldon, stroman) i don't find to be interesting at all. neither one seems to be doing anything new. they seem to rely on old tricks. there are some great ballet pieces coming out--but they seem to be from european choreographers, or at least americans who have gone to europe in order to get their work seen.
a big problem to me is that the larger companies are not imaginative enough in where they find the new talent. it seems to be that you have an up and coming, or close to retiring male dancer--you give him a chance to choreograph, the rest is history. you end up with crap choreography and no new intersting works. there's alot of great choreographers out there, unfortunatly they don't get their work shown by larger companies because they are working in the regional ballet circuit with dancers who, while still developing and dedicated to their work, can't fully realize the dreams of these choreographers.

#11 CygneDanois

CygneDanois

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 84 posts

Posted 17 March 2001 - 02:13 PM

Alexandra, what about Bruch Violin concerto? It appears that you wrote a positive review of it (as a ballet) when ABT performed it a while ago.

Ms. Leigh, I was not being serious Posted Image.

------------------
CygneDanois

#12 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 17 March 2001 - 02:59 PM

I clung to Tippett's Bruch Violin Concerto as an example of good choreography within the past ten years, but now it's more than ten years old Posted Image (1989 or '90, I believe) I don't think it's destined to enter the canon, but I think it was a very good beginner's ballet -- and I liked it because Tippett seemed to be trying to create very specific, detailed roles (and it had a solid structure).

#13 Drew

Drew

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,289 posts

Posted 17 March 2001 - 05:42 PM

I would certainly call Wheeldon promising -- I would, for example, genuinely like to see Polyphonia again. (Based on what many here and elsewhere have said, I gather that Mercurial Manoevers was a still more successful work...unfortunately I missed it.) There are skeptics like Julip, but certainly "promising" isn't an absurd claim.

In the early eighties I saw a whole slew of John Neumeier works (danced by his own company and the Stuttgart) several of which I found interesting/good. Just one example: as a full-length story ballet I thought Dame aux Camelias was considerably more interesting than the Cranko works in whose wake it, more or less, was following. (In the past when I have mentioned a ballet or choreographer less commonly admired on this board, I have been asked to explain myself -- so, here's what I can offer from memory: I thought the drama and dance was integrated in ingenious ways, including a ballroom scene after Marguerite has given up Armand in which each dances with someone else while obsessing about the other. I remember (vaguely) the actual choreography of the scene as simple but musical, with a sort of restrained, repetitive quality that played very nicely against the crazed emotions. I also remember a clever, meta-theatrical scene in which the characters attend an opera and there is a stage within the stage. I have long since forgotten choreographic detail, but I decidedly thought the movements and differentiation of the pas de deux were more sophisticated than Cranko.) Anyway, I haven't seen anything by Neumeier since the early eighties -- and I can't swear my opinions would be identical today -- but I find it hard to believe that he has done NOTHING in the last ten years that I would like...

Many don't consider Tharp (even on point) a "ballet" choreographer -- in my opinion a great deal of what is distinctive about her choroegraphy works better w. modern dancers -- but I wouldn't completely banish her from ballet consideration and, specifically, wouldn't mind seeing In the Upper Room again...

There are also new works from the last ten years that, without being very distinguished, have at least shown me dancers developing in interesting ways -- e.g. Kowroski in Tomasson's Prism, Hubbe in Martins' Jazz. I'm not a fan of either of these works -- and I'm not waiting breathlessly for the next Martins or Tomasson ballet, but I don't think it was a waste of time for these dancers to have these roles set on them. Their talents were being deployed and developped not just commandeered or exploited. In a way, this is defending merely competent choreography, when the question was about works that are genuinely "good." But the question was raised in the context of a discussion of Farrell's "company," its potential repertory, and a remark about ballet moving "forward." Even traditional or specialized companies need to produce some new works if only to keep their dancers creatively engaged in different ways than (re)stagings can do. The marketing question also arises, but the need for premiers and "events" has led to an OVERproduction of new works -- I don't deny that. But I don't think the last ten years has been an actual desert, just a very, very dry landscape.



[This message has been edited by Drew (edited March 17, 2001).]

#14 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 17 March 2001 - 06:35 PM

Julip -

As another struggling choreographer, believe me, I understand your vent. I'm with Drew on Wheeldon though, I had more doubts about Polyphonia than she, but I think there's a reason he's getting opportunities; he has promise.

As to the brutal reality of connections, networking and being "in the loop" . . .you're right. I can't tell you the frustration I felt early on when I'd be asked "You're a choreographer? Where did you dance?" as if there were a correllation between your ability to dance and the ability to compose a ballet. (In truth, there is some; you need some technical mastery of the skill, but it's the same as needing to be a competent and well-trained instrumentalist to be a composer, but not needing to be a world-class performer.)

My advice on this, from one who has been there, is work on your craft first, but work on your connections. Visibility and "the loop" do matter. This doesn't mean turning into some sort of toadying monster, it simply means not working in isolation and recognizing that you will need to establish credibility and gain people's trust to work. People give opportunities to people they know, not because they are celebrity obssessed or cruelly exclusive, but because commissions are an enormous financial risk, and they are looking for someone they might be able to trust or who is at least bankable. The regional ballet conferences might be an enormous help to you for you to get your work seen, and to develop friendships and associations that could turn into commissions a few years down the road. It's like a slow growing garden; you need to have the patience to wait several seasons for the crops to mature. Good luck!

------------------
Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com
[url="http://"http://members.aol.com/lwitchel"]Personal Page and Dance Writing[/url]
[url="http://"http://members.aol.com/dnceasever"]Dance as Ever[/url]

#15 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 17 March 2001 - 07:57 PM

I'll wait for Wheeldon; I, too, think the opportunities that he's gotten have been earned. It takes time to develop a choreographer. I think this is one of the very good things that Martins has done at NYCB. It would have been easy enough to give him a chance and then cut him loose, but, instead, Wheeldon has had the chance to work with the same dancers over a period of time, dancers he knows, and that will make a difference.

Drew, I also liked Neumeier's Camille ballet (although it's much more than ten years old now; more like 20. I think there were more drizzles of decent choreography in the 1980s.) If you could take out the pas de deux from his Romeo and Juliet what remains is much more dramatic than either the MacMillan or Cranko versions, which I find deadly dull. I've seen about six of his others, though, and, to me, they have very, very awkward choreography, and remain essentially literary works -- every detail in the book might be in the ballet, but they're not necessarily danceable details. I have several friends whom I trust who saw his recent Nijinsky ballet and came away saying it was very good theater.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):