The Not Terribly Good Club
Posted 12 November 1998 - 09:45 PM
After 45 minutes outside on a pleasant summer night, watching swans sip champagne (who but the French would stop by the bar during an evacuation?) and Nureyev stride, his most princelike, even though wearing a bathrobe, up and down to the delight of two tour buses that decided to drive by at 11:00 o'clock on a Friday night, the building was declared save for swans and the performance continiued.
They skipped the second act and zipped into Act III. I guess they figured we knew the story. In Act IV, Nureyev inserted a pas de deux for Odette and Siegfried, and this is where my Great Save comes in. Florence Clerc and Nureyev danced the white swan pas de deux instead. I liked this; the audience expected a white swan pas de deux and a black swan one, and darned if we weren't going to get it.
But the white swan pas de deux didn't work here. It's a falling in love pas de deux, and the fourth act calls for a I know you didn't mean it but we're going to die anyway pas de deux, and seeing Clerk realize that 30 seconds in, and change, without changing a step, a falling-in-love duet into a farewell, was one of the most moving and most theatrical moments I've ever experienced, and worth every minute of the 45 we had to wait for it.
Posted 20 November 1998 - 05:22 AM
Posted 20 November 1998 - 10:23 AM
(I think the reason is that it's easy to dance and it looks like a ballet, especially if you haven't seen Ashton's.)
Posted 22 November 1998 - 06:21 PM
There was this performance of "La Sylphide", see, and Martine van Hamel was dancing the title role. I don't remember much of anything else about this performance's Act I, because when Martine tried to vanish up the chimney, she got stuck! She could come back down, but she couldn't go all the way up, leaving her feet dangling between heaven and hearth in the fireplace. Nobody watched James and Effie and Gurn and the rest of the good Scots' yeomanry spin out the story of Act I. Madge could have danced a can-can while playing a sousaphone and nobody would have noticed - we had all developed feet fixation. At first, the feet were very docile and decorous feet, framing themselves genteelly in cou de pied. But, after awhile, an occasional shake or flex became necessary to ward off cramp, and every little movement was greeted by the murmurations and chortlings of the audience. Of course, eventually, she could reenter from her perch in the flue, and things continued on without further incident.
Afterwards, Martine, ever the good-spirited trouper, just smiled it away, and said, "Well, I guess that they just built the chimney for a smaller sylph!"
Posted 22 November 1998 - 08:04 PM
The work by this choreographer with which I am most familiar is Dracula, which is a work that seems worse the more I think of it. Even to an untutored eye the parts that are not derivative are dull. The principal characters have almost no dramatic impact. There is a character pas de deux between two elderly characters that is OK for about 30 seconds but that quickly becomes one of those "is it over yet" pieces.
HOWEVER--there is a third act solo for Flora in which she attempts to remain the chosen bride of Dracula which, during the two times I saw it last year as presented by the Pittsburgh Ballet, was arresting in its depiction of emotional bleakness, hopelessness and fear. Both times it was a really cathartic moment. Much was due to the dancing and acting of the dancers in question (Kristen Wenrick and Mabel Modrono), but since they gave markedly different interpretations of this character, much of the credit must go to Stevenson.
But Flora was an exquisite fifteen minutes during a production that was otherwise full of flash and trash.
Posted 23 November 1998 - 03:47 AM
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