So let's talk about provincial and international companies.
Posted 08 December 2001 - 02:42 AM
The distinction I make is that a company with an international style is an importer of ballet, bringing the world outside to its city. A provincial company is one that defines and reflects its home.
Of course, no company is solely one or the other. Paris Opera Ballet has a repertory that is both home grown and far-flung, but they are so uniform in style that it is uniquely defining.
Do people have more to add to this definition? Is your home city's company one or the other? Would you prefer it differently?
Posted 08 December 2001 - 04:28 PM
As you define, I would call NYCB a provincial company. It has a distinctive repertoire, although many Balanchine works are danced elsewhere, and a particular style. Even the classical ballets, Beauty, Swan Lake and the Nutcracker, are seen through the lense of the company's own style.
Formerly, the Royal Ballet could also have been described as a provincial company. From the lates 60's through probably the 80's, they danced a particular rep - Ashton, McMillan and the classics - in a highly recognizable style. I haven't seen them since they brought Dowell's Beauty to the Met but from what I read they seem to have begun a transition to an international company. Certainly Stretton seems to determined to take them in that direction and his choice as AD seems to indicate that this transition was desired by the Board.
ABT has always seemed to me (and I've been attending since the late 60's) to be an international company. And sometimes, it has just seemed to be a company with no artistic point of view.
I unfortunately have not and don't see enough of companies like the Kirov, Bolshoi or Paris Opera to have an opinion on their status. Clearly from the discussions on this board, the Cubans are a provincial company par excellance.
Posted 08 December 2001 - 09:58 PM
Posted 08 December 2001 - 10:48 PM
(I'd like to avoid the "we are not regional" arguments, at least on this thread smile.gif )
I agree with Leigh's points, although I think the naming will cause confusion. I've about this several times, and have used an analogy of "boutiques" versus "department stores". Or small, cuisine-specific restaurants versus fast food joints. I'm one who thinks the great companies are all provincial, and that "international" leads to bland, accentless dancing. The notion that when a company loses its identity and surrenders to "global glot" is when it not only loses its soul but its greatness is one of my Causes, so I'll stop there, and hope others will enter the fray.
(Leigh's article is long, but definitely worth a read smile.gif We're repriting it in this month's Ballet Review so that it will have a print life. )
Posted 09 December 2001 - 12:35 AM
Having recently looked at companies with both a provincial (to me, NYCB and Cuba are two) and an international viewpoint (to me, National Ballet of Canada is one) there are things to be said for both. NBoC is giving its audience what it wants, which is the world brought to them. It may not be as interesting stylistically, but it makes sense in the context of the city, the country and the audience. I don't think any company is only one or only the other. Look at Cuba's rep list and you'll see that it imports plenty of choreography, and that's not unhealthy, nor as far as we can see has it endangered their sense of identity. Like everything else, it's not what you do, but how, at what level of artistry and in what proportion.
The Danes seem to exemplify the conflict in a nutshell, and perhaps the ballet company is mirroring the national character with conflicting desires to celebrate and preserve its identity or have some sort of window on the much larger world outside of Denmark. In the most sensitive hands, this shouldn't be an either/or choice.
Posted 09 December 2001 - 01:39 PM
So, for me Boston Ballet is provincial company, because they tried so hard to be in the top ten over the world and NYCB is capital one, even I don't like they approach to classical pieces, but the quality of performances is usually very high.
So, I come up with another contrasting, provincial - capital, instead of international.
Posted 09 December 2001 - 02:10 PM
But I do think that the distinction Leigh makes is valid -- different, but valid. Companies who create a repertory geared to the tastes of its audience, in contrast to companies who borrow repertory from here and there.
Posted 09 December 2001 - 02:11 PM
Andrei's right, there are plenty of companies and even cities that are provincial in that limiting sense, and the pretense of sophistication would be a symptom. But what of companies (or even places) that are provincial in a good way, that is, that their focus is local, and the company serves and reflects the city? In private conversations, Alexandra and I have often talked of "provincial" cities and companies like this (Vienna was mentioned as another example)
Perhaps there is a better term for the opposite of an internationalist viewpoint? Localist?
Posted 10 December 2001 - 09:59 PM
I am however, woefully uneducated when it comes to companies, repertory etc., so if my argument doesn't even come close to holding water apologies.
Posted 10 December 2001 - 10:17 PM
For a company to have an "identity" of any sort, it seems they need either a strong and specific choreographer, or a strong director (or ballet master) or school.
I would assume a strong choreographer would tend to negate an internationalist approach, simply because it would narrow the focus of the company. But what about a strong school, like Paris? As I mentioned earlier, that's a company that seems to be both local and international in viewpoint.
Posted 10 December 2001 - 10:34 PM
Paris. Ah, Paris. It's just the way they are. Walter Sorrell's Dance in Its Time takes it back to the 12th century. The city has always had a sense of flair -- not trying to please anybody, which might be the best way to please, or at least attract the attention of, everybody.
Posted 10 December 2001 - 11:16 PM
Posted 10 December 2001 - 11:40 PM
I agree with Leigh that Paris breaks the rules. It hasn't had a great native choreographer in several lifetimes. It's kept its identity through its school -- which has changed radically (from French to Italian to Russian-influenced) while retaining something intrinsically Parisian.
National Ballet of Canada was once a smaller-scale Royal Ballet, I think (when I first saw the company in the 1970s). Very much modeled on what DeValois had accomplished in the '40s and '50s, but without a native choreographer. I saw them do "Merry Widow" about 15 years ago and was struck how BIG and important they made the ballet seem. They knew how to fill the stage; very much in the old Royal manner. It wasn't exactly an identity, but it wasn't globalglot either.
Posted 13 November 2001 - 12:42 PM
Posted 23 November 2001 - 09:22 AM
But with Graffin and Jaffe, it worked. Both are great actors (especially Graffin) and you could see how these two people who clearly have very strong feelings for each other and are at least somewhat happy become increasingly distraught and overcome by the memories the evening keeps on invoking. It's not so much that they're being pulled away from each other, but into themselves, as into a pit from which they can't escape. Although they do reach out to each other one last time, it seems inevitable and appropriate that they should abandon each other at the ballet's end.
And, God, weren't those sets awful?
I do think Dvorovenko's first-movement ballerina in Symphony in C was priceless. Melissa Hayden calls this role the "Hostess with the Mostest," but Dvorovenko left no doubts that she was, in fact, the guest of honor. Not since the memorable performance turned in by the Kirov's Irma Nioradze have I seen a dancer so oblivious to the spirit of the ballet, or so determined to turn this role into a classical ballerina show-piece.
Technically, Dvorovenko was magnificent, although some of the footwork was a bit too fleet for her. Her presentation, though, was quite marvelous, for all the wrong reasons. I could see the ballerina from Etudes ("The party can start now -- I am HERE!"), Raymonda, the gal from the Peasant Pas, Gamzatti, even the Queen of the May, but not much Balanchine. Dvorovenko was selling, selling, selling, and her ballerina mannerisms, like, say, a slighty, saucy tilt of the head when landing in arabesque from a grande jete, are just plain not appropriate for Balanchine.
Wrong-headed as her approach may have been, Dvorovenko was anything but dull, and her almost-feral energy and craving for attention was, as always, awe-inspiring. I remember seeing her successfully whip off one of those tricky fourth-movement pirouettes and, I swear, she concluded not just by flashing her highest-voltage stage smile, but licked her lips, either in triumph for having nailed the step or as if she were contemplating devouring the entire audience for dessert.
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