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New dancers in a created role


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 11 November 2001 - 04:58 PM

This question was posted by Richard Jones on the "It is in my will" thread on this forum. I thought it should have its own thread.

Here is Richard Jones's post:

Just to broaden the discussion slightly, I wonder how many others have seen a role performed by the dancer on whom it was created, and then seen a later performance by someone else, either during or after the choreographer's lifetime. Two that come to mind for me are from MacMillan ballets: Mercutio in R & J (David Blair) and The Chosen One in The Rite of Spring (Monica Mason) - both from the mid-1960's. I have seen MacMillan's R& J a number of times, with Mercutios of varying shapes and sizes. Of course it always works in some way or other, but I am grateful that I saw David Blair in the role; the strength of his characterisation is still vivid in my mind. I saw MacMillan's 'Rite' two years ago (English National Ballet) with Tamara Rojo as the chosen one; again a very different style of dancer to the role's creator, but bringing her own special qualities to the part.

#2 felursus

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Posted 12 November 2001 - 12:13 AM

Well, one need harken back no further than Macmillan's "Romeo and Juliet". It was created for Seymour and Gable, but the premiere was done by Fonteyn and Nureyev - because of various political and financial pressures. I saw both casts (as well as others). In fact at an exhibit entitled "25 Years of Opera and Ballet at Covent Garden" held at the V&A c. 1970, they showed films of 3 couples performing the balcony pas-de-deux: Fonteyn/Nureyev, Sibley/Dowell and Seymour/Gable so one could compare/contrast interpretations.

#3 Mashinka

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Posted 12 November 2001 - 12:21 PM

I personally feel that there is a big difference between how a role is danced during and after the choreographer’s lifetime. As Macmillan's Romeo & Juliet has been given as an example, I have to confess that performances that I've seen of this ballet since Macmillan’s death have all failed to move me as something seemed to be lacking.

When a choreographer embarks on a new ballet, it is often with second or even third casts in attendance all of whom are aware of the choreographer’s intentions, so that audience preference comes down to personal taste. However there have been some ballets that have been created or in some cases adapted to suit a particular dancers technique or personality and somehow the initial impact of such works is never repeated. Ashton created Marguerite and Armand specifically for Fonteyn & Nureyev and never sanctioned another couple in the roles. I for one am very distressed that his wishes have now been brushed aside.

#4 Ann

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Posted 12 November 2001 - 06:03 PM

Felursus

- Fascinating that you saw these three couples in the balcony scene from R & J (even on film). I've always wondered what Seymour and Gable would have been like, given that the roles were actually created on them. Equally I would love to have seen what Sibley and Dowell would have made of the star-crossed lovers (Fonteyn and Nureyev are of course on video in the roles).

It would be wonderful if you could comment further on this.

#5 Richard Jones

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Posted 18 November 2001 - 06:28 AM

Sibley and Dowell were the star-crossed lovers in the first R &J that I saw (March 1965). Up till then, the only ballet I had seen was in my aunt's (local) dance school end-of-term shows, or on television, so it would have been difficult for me to make judgements at that time. However I do remember overhearing an expensively dressed lady in the bar saying to her friend "Young Dowell is doing frightfully well, isn't he?"!! I can remember, though, that the magic of Sibley and Dowell as a partnership did have a lyrical freshness about it, a contrast to the high profile glamour of Fonteyn and Nureyev. Consequently, Sibley's Juliet was a lovely girl to fall in love with! Unfortunately I never saw Lynn Seymour as Juliet; if anyone can remember the two well enough to make a comparison, that would be interesting. The Royal Ballet video of R and J is worth seeing (Ferri and Eagling); very dramatic performances. I think it was produced in the 1980's (MacMillan died in 1992). Eagling had created leading roles for MacMillan, from Triad (1972) to Gloria (1980), so he knew the way the man worked.


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