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Who Lost Antony Tudor's Romeo and Juliet?


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#31 Natalia

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 12:53 PM

Conservative audiences, with ticket money for only Bolshoi-style, full-evening narrative ballets to music by familiar Russian composers, at the Met (or Kennedy Center as 2nd possible scene of crime).

#32 sandy

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 01:02 PM

It is true that there are 2 systems of notation available, as well as videos/dvds as tools to help feeble minds remember ballets of old. So many ballets are unrecorded as few companies have been able to employ notators, (in the past or presently); videos have deteriorated; performances that were and are recorded are not always reliable or true to the choreographers' intent. Archival taping is often hampered by orchestra union rules. The quality of the tapes is terrible in relation to the price of the stage crew member who is hired to simply turn the machine on & off. While the true heroes are the Ballet Masters of the world, it is a fact that those heroes from Ballet Russes days & early ABT days are a dying breed. In trying to resurrect some of the lost ballets of that time, one can only hope that the Library of Performing Arts(Robbins) has some footage. Even footage without sound can be of use to those that have some knowledge of ballets. In writing this I am hoping that someone out there has a link to pirated films or tapes - only for the purpose of helping to re-construct ballets that deserve a life. To those of you who have footage - copy it - send it to the Library of Perf Arts. You'd be doing such a service even if you filmed illegally!
On that note - does anyone know where Tobi from the Ballet Shop has gone to? Perhaps he has some sources with films....
Lastly, if there are collectors of any of these films: SHARE THEM WITH THE LIBRARY!!!!! It is overwhelmingly depressing to see works like Tudor's, Demille's, etc go to sleep - Never to be seen!
If any one has any helpful and promising news on this front, please reply.

#33 Hans

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 01:44 PM

I think a revival of Tudor is exactly what ballet needs. Without going on a long tirade about it, ballet has become a bloodless, technical art form, and ballets that force the dancers to act--not just act but really express emotion, energy, something onstage--might finally bring back some life into the sport we currently call ballet. Audiences relate to technical tricks, but they can see anything more impressive in the sports arena or at Cirque du Soleil than in the theaters. What people really relate to is that electricity that comes from a real passion for the art form.

#34 sandy

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 06:53 PM

With both ABT and New York Theatre Ballet resurrecting a pas from Antony Tudor's Romeo and Juliet this year, there has been much discussion to the effect that Tudor's Romeo and Juliet (last seen in its entirety in 1976) is unrevivable as a complete work. Assuming this is so, I want to take a page from the board game Clue and challenge Ballet Talkers to solve the following mystery: Who Lost Antony Tudor's Romeo and Juliet?

Clue enthusiasts try to solve the mysterious death of a "Mr. Body" at (appropriately enough, Tudor mansion) by sifting through a list of suspects, weapons and rooms to determine the who, how and where. For the purposes of this game, we will be more concerned with the "who" rather than the "how" and the "where". Clue features six possible suspects -- Mr. Green, Colonel Mustard, Mrs. Peacock, Professor Plum, Miss Scarlet and Mrs. White. The Ballet Talk version of Clue will replace these six suspects with the following list of suspects (in descending order from the serious to the ridiculous):

1) Antony Tudor -- Tart-tongued choreographer fails to establish work outside of ABT during his lifetime; thereby consigning it to dustbin of history.

2) Tudor Trust -- Dithers around for 20 years since namesake's death; failing to muster appropriate resolve and funds to restage it while memories are still sharp.

3) Mikhail Baryshnikov -- Former artistic director of ABT (1980-89) who replaced the Tudor version unique to ABT with the MacMillan version, which can be seen anywhere in the world.

4) Kevin McKenzie -- Current artistic director of ABT (1993-Present) who claims poverty as a reason for failing to revive the Tudor version but manages to find funds for gaudy, big budget revivals (Sleeping Beauty), big-budget star vehicles (The Pied Piper) and ill-advised attempts to chase contemporary dance trends.

5) Balanchine Trust -- Quasi-religious sect spreads the gospel of its founder all over the world; thereby diminishing interest in other approaches to ballet.

6) Peter Martins -- NYCB artistic director had perfect opportunity to revive Tudor's abstracted version of Romeo and Juliet and cover himself in glory; instead stages ill-advised (and expensive) new version.

7) Mark Morris -- No reason he should be on this list other than he strikes me as the kind of person who would love to be a character in Clue. :wink:

8) The Swamp Thing -- Supernatural being given to displays of evil and malice. :wink:


Ballet Talkers are free to add their own suspects and, unlike regular Clue, have -- Murder On the Orient Express-style -- multiple culprits. The "how" and the "where" are not crucial for the game's purposes but, if you want to keep to the spirit of the original board game, you can add those elements. Here are examples from the original game and our game as guides:

Original: It was Miss Scarlet with the wrench in the Billiard Room.

Ours: It was Antony Tudor with perverse neglect at Lincoln Center.

Obviously, I'm being more than a little tongue-in-cheek with this. But I'm hoping the sleuths on this board can put together some reasoned deductions as to how this great work got to the point of being lost and who -- if anyone -- is to blame. (And if you can't get into the spirit of the game -- DON'T PLAY!!!)


In re: who lost Tudor's R & J: When the ballet was revived in the 70's so much of had been lost. Ex-cast members came around to try to put it together. Tudor undoubtedly changed some it to make up for the lost material. It wasn't performed long enough in the 70's in order for it to be notated. Because of lighting & costuming, films/videos are not clear. Ballet masters don't live for ever, & unlike other Tudor ballets that were performed often, R & J wasn't - so future Ballet masters weren't given the opportunity to learn the piece. It's a pity. The Library has footage. But incomplete. Not to mention the cost of the scenery & costumes! There would be no point to do it without the Bermann designs. In this day & age there's no way it could be resurrected given that it isn't a full length. That, to a certain degree, puts the blame on the public - poor ticket sales for repertory programs!

#35 Amy Reusch

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 08:07 PM

I think a revival of Tudor is exactly what ballet needs. Without going on a long tirade about it, ballet has become a bloodless, technical art form, and ballets that force the dancers to act...

Hasn't the field gone as far as it is interesting to go with technique and physical instrument... I mean, so many dancers are now beyond flexible into practically contortionist range...(who really wants to see an oversplit? At what number of does a series of fouettes begin to lose interest?)... Isn't it time for the pendulum to swing back? I never tire of musicality, but simple technical virtuosity after a while leaves me jaded... There is nothing wrong with dancers having personality, and there's nothing wrong with providing a plot vehicle for personality either. Who is the "new Tudor"? If we've seen a lot of Balanchine knock-offs, who are the Tudor inspired choreographers?

#36 leonid17

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 03:50 PM

In re: who lost Tudor's R & J: When the ballet was revived in the 70's so much of had been lost. Ex-cast members came around to try to put it together. Tudor undoubtedly changed some it to make up for the lost material. It wasn't performed long enough in the 70's in order for it to be notated. Because of lighting & costuming, films/videos are not clear. Ballet masters don't live for ever, & unlike other Tudor ballets that were performed often, R & J wasn't - so future Ballet masters weren't given the opportunity to learn the piece. It's a pity. The Library has footage. But incomplete. Not to mention the cost of the scenery & costumes! There would be no point to do it without the Bermann designs. In this day & age there's no way it could be resurrected given that it isn't a full length. That, to a certain degree, puts the blame on the public - poor ticket sales for repertory programs!


Some very interesting statements are made amongst other that appear to be supposition. If you were present at the revival and worked on it we would all be fascinated to hear. But when you say " Tudor undoubtedly changed some it to make up for the lost material. " That doesn't sound a fact. What does sound a fact is that Romeo and Juliet has been notatied in full, there are performers who have worked Tudor on this ballet still very fit and active and certainly not "feeble". I believe the Notation Bureau and the Tudor Trust have some standing, who with former performers in the ballet in question could revive this ballet. The Berman question has been discussed above. What does a ballet not being full length have to do with a revival may one ask? A ballet is a ballet is a ballet to paraphrase Miss Stein. Short or Long. If its good and stands the test of time it can be revived. In the last 10 years or so Tudors works have been revived successfully around the world.
Can anyone confirm who assisted Tudor in the Revival R & J in the 70s? I have just returned from a Wayne MacGregor first night at the Royal Ballet and I am, frustrated and in a state of despair to check it right now.

#37 Dale

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 04:57 PM

I went back and looked at some reviews at the time of the revival. At first, Clive Barnes said he loved the ballet when he first saw it in the 40s, but, although it was wonderful to have it back, he felt something was missing during the revival. However, he reviewed the ballet several times that season and the next, and admitted to have completely changed his mind. He loved it still. He also said the audience was very enthusiastic. When Baryshnikov took over, Lewis Segal wrote a column about whether there was room for the Tudor ballet at this "new" ABT. He writes this about the notation:

It was never filmed and only an estimated third-to-a-hal of it has been notated -- that in rough form (with several sections unlabled), according to a representative of the Dance Notation Bureau in New York. Tudor will be 77 next month and he admitted that Romeo and Juliet is now "far too much for me to get into. It's a killer to rehearse!" Nora Kaye added that "I don't think Tudor really remembers it," but speculated that former cast members might be able to piece it together eventually.


Segal then wrote that he hoped Baryshnikov, ABT and possibly even PBS's Dance in America might revive the ballet again. (the quote above is in dispute with the information in the New Yorker review)

All the reviews mentioned there was a seamless quality to the ballet's choreography, how memorable the scenery was, the stylization of the production.

One almost wishes that a reconstruction expert could go about to Makarova, Fracci and others to interview them about the ballet and somehow put it together.

#38 bart

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 07:48 PM

I have just returned from a Wayne MacGregor first night at the Royal Ballet and I am, frustrated and in a state of despair to check it right now.

I know this is Off Topic -- but, leonid, PLEASE report on this when you recover. :lol:

#39 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 09:15 PM

For the record, at an exhibition of the Berman costumes at the NYPL ca. 1996, Michael Kaiser and I had a conversation where he stated something similar to what McKenzie said. The costumes existed, but were too fragile to be worn. Recreating them would cost $500,000 - evidently there's been significant inflation.

#40 sandy

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 02:45 PM

Suffice it to say, I was "around" in the 70's - an ex-ABT dancer. I can tell you the following: Ex-cast members came around - Fernand Nault, Sono Osato for example. Enrique Martinez & Scott Douglas were ballet masters though I only remember Tudor & Hugh Laing running rehearsals. Dimitri Romanoff also helped with remembering the Friar(his role). Every one, at that time, had great difficulty remembering the ballet & putting it together - which is why I know that some re-staging was done, at that time, to fill lost elements. There was a notator but the score is not complete. Film footage is not complete. I believe Joan Acocello wrote in this week's New Yorker that it would cost $2,000,000 to reproduce the set & costumes - which is probably at least what it would take.
As to dancers of the 70's remembering it: You have to realize that we didn't do it often. That made it difficult for both dancers & staff. Pillar & Lilac Garden were done ALL the time - but not R & J. Of course if it were to done I imagine some ex-dancers may be called upon. One has to realize that it is the corps work & smaller roles that are the most difficult to see on the films. Re-constructing the principal roles is not the problem.
Re: the question about revival of repertory works: Yes, a ballet is a ballet, etc, etc. But in this financial climate, finding that kind of money for a repertory ballet is a dream. Repertory ballets don't sell as well as full-lengths. Repertory works can't be repeated as often. And the price tag on this one is enormous. If anyone has the $ to donate for this purpose, I'm sure it would come together. Not an easy task, but certainly well worth it.


Some very interesting statements are made amongst other that appear to be supposition. If you were present at the revival and worked on it we would all be fascinated to hear. But when you say " Tudor undoubtedly changed some it to make up for the lost material. " That doesn't sound a fact. What does sound a fact is that Romeo and Juliet has been notatied in full, there are performers who have worked Tudor on this ballet still very fit and active and certainly not "feeble". I believe the Notation Bureau and the Tudor Trust have some standing, who with former performers in the ballet in question could revive this ballet. The Berman question has been discussed above. What does a ballet not being full length have to do with a revival may one ask? A ballet is a ballet is a ballet to paraphrase Miss Stein. Short or Long. If its good and stands the test of time it can be revived. In the last 10 years or so Tudors works have been revived successfully around the world.
Can anyone confirm who assisted Tudor in the Revival R & J in the 70s? I have just returned from a Wayne MacGregor first night at the Royal Ballet and I am, frustrated and in a state of despair to check it right now.



#41 leonid17

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 02:53 PM

Suffice it to say, I was "around" in the 70's - an ex-ABT dancer. I can tell you the following: Ex-cast members came around - Fernand Nault, Sono Osato for example. Enrique Martinez & Scott Douglas were ballet masters though I only remember Tudor & Hugh Laing running rehearsals. Dimitri Romanoff also helped with remembering the Friar(his role). Every one, at that time, had great difficulty remembering the ballet & putting it together - which is why I know that some re-staging was done, at that time, to fill lost elements. There was a notator but the score is not complete. Film footage is not complete. I believe Joan Acocello wrote in this week's New Yorker that it would cost $2,000,000 to reproduce the set & costumes - which is probably at least what it would take.
As to dancers of the 70's remembering it: You have to realize that we didn't do it often. That made it difficult for both dancers & staff. Pillar & Lilac Garden were done ALL the time - but not R & J. Of course if it were to done I imagine some ex-dancers may be called upon. One has to realize that it is the corps work & smaller roles that are the most difficult to see on the films. Re-constructing the principal roles is not the problem.
Re: the question about revival of repertory works: Yes, a ballet is a ballet, etc, etc. But in this financial climate, finding that kind of money for a repertory ballet is a dream. Repertory ballets don't sell as well as full-lengths. Repertory works can't be repeated as often. And the price tag on this one is enormous. If anyone has the $ to donate for this purpose, I'm sure it would come together. Not an easy task, but certainly well worth it.


Some very interesting statements are made amongst other that appear to be supposition. If you were present at the revival and worked on it we would all be fascinated to hear. But when you say " Tudor undoubtedly changed some it to make up for the lost material. " That doesn't sound a fact. What does sound a fact is that Romeo and Juliet has been notatied in full, there are performers who have worked Tudor on this ballet still very fit and active and certainly not "feeble". I believe the Notation Bureau and the Tudor Trust have some standing, who with former performers in the ballet in question could revive this ballet. The Berman question has been discussed above. What does a ballet not being full length have to do with a revival may one ask? A ballet is a ballet is a ballet to paraphrase Miss Stein. Short or Long. If its good and stands the test of time it can be revived. In the last 10 years or so Tudors works have been revived successfully around the world.
Can anyone confirm who assisted Tudor in the Revival R & J in the 70s? I have just returned from a Wayne MacGregor first night at the Royal Ballet and I am, frustrated and in a state of despair to check it right now.


Wow. Thanks for your full explanation. Like many posters I am keen to know as much precise historic information as possible and you have given it. Thanks again.

#42 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 03:02 PM

I wonder how analogous the situation is with this to Ashton's Sylvia or Homage to the Queen.

Sylvia is by and large Ashton's with Christopher Newton reconstructing a few bridges of it where the choreography was lost.

The only section of Ashton's Homage to the Queen that could be fully staged was Air - the other sections had to be remade.

I think we need to let ABT know with our support (and dollars) that we really want to see this before more time passes making it that much more difficult. If they saw the demand, I bet they'd do it.

#43 atm711

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 03:23 AM

I went back and looked at some reviews at the time of the revival. At first, Clive Barnes said he loved the ballet when he first saw it in the 40s, but, although it was wonderful to have it back, he felt something was missing during the revival.



the problem is, for those of us (in dwindling numbers!) who saw Tudor in the 40's, something will always be missing in the revivals. I don't like the current ABT revival of 'Pillar of Fire'---but, hey, that's OK. I am glad that other generations can see the work. There will be times when current dancers hit-the-mark--as in Veronika Part's interpretation of the other woman in 'Lilac Garden'. My generation marvelled at Nora Kaye in 'Lilac Garden' but others said there was no one better than Maude Lloyd. (she is at the top of my list of wish-I-saw-that)

#44 miliosr

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 11:18 AM

Thanks sandy for your insightful comments.

Speaking only for myself, it wouldn't bother me a bit if ABT billed a reconstructed Romeo & Juliet as "After Tudor". After all, nobody blinks an eye at the "After Petipa" moniker. I would rather have Antony Tudor's Romeo and Juliet where portions of it are really just educated guesses rather than no Tudor Romeo & Juliet at all.

As for the cost of reconstructing it, I admit that $2 million is a big sum, especially now that the boom times of the last 25 years have come (at least temporarily) to an end. I have to be honest, though, that I grit my teeth when I hear ABT management crying poverty over this given all of the big budget, no taste productions they've thrown money at over the last 15 years.

Lastly, I think a repertory program with Tudor's Romeo & Juliet on it could sell if the entire program was stellar. During the 90s, Kevin McKenzie mentioned that he would love to stage an all-Shakespeare program consisting of Ashton's The Dream, Limon's The Moor's Pavane and Tudor's Romeo & Juliet. If that can't sell, then ballet is truly doomed to obsolescence.

OK, I need to stop before I depress myself further. Here's the latest game tally:

The Corpse Isn't Dead! = 3
Mikhail Baryshnikov = 2
conservative audiences/the public = 2
ABT board = 1
cowardly administrators = 1
Martha Hill = 1
Kevin McKenzie = 1
Antony Tudor = 1

#45 dirac

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 03:38 PM

I think we need to let ABT know with our support (and dollars) that we really want to see this before more time passes making it that much more difficult. If they saw the demand, I bet they'd do it.


Seems to me that reviving a ballet like this with all the trimmings is what ABT is for (or should be). Times are going to be hard for everyone in the next few years but when there's a will, there's a way. It's part of the company's heritage.


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