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Ballet companies and modern/contemporary dance


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#31 LMCtech

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 12:25 PM

I find it interesting that most of these contemporary ballet companies don't seem to ever revisit their work. Every program is filled with brand new ballets every year. While I admire the prolificness of a choreographer, I start feeling like we've seen this before so why didn't you just do the older piece? I think this is a major problem. The dancers never really get to explore the role and the audience doesn't get to contemplate it again. I love seeing works, especially neo-classical ones, again and again. I've Agon ten times, but I see something new every time.

#32 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 12:41 PM

I can answer this one as someone who runs a choreographer-driven company. I remember Paul Taylor's consternation when he got an NEA grant for preservation of his old work, not creation of new works. He basically said he was totally uninterested in his old dances. Now, Taylor is given to saying things that are provocative, but the point here is that a choreographer wants to choreograph and money is painfully limited. In my experience, revivals of a work not in active repertory (where it needs to be re-taught) cost exactly as much as a new work, when intuition tells you that might save money in rehearsal time. Nope, it takes me the same amount of time to re-set a work as to make a new one.

I know from my standpoint I'd like to revive works but not at the expense of getting to make new work. I'd need more performance opportunities, more dancers so I could cast a revival correctly, and more money. If you'd like to see it from a day-to-day perspective, read about the rehearsals of the revival of Horizon in A Choreographer's Diary on the main part of this site.

#33 LMCtech

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 03:04 PM

I understand completely what you say about cost and choreographic motives. It just seems that adding an old work here or there that happens to be better than more recent works could improve ticket sales and challenge the dancers in a totally different way. Just a thought. I'm in no way advocating this to all companies everywhere.

#34 Alexandra

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 08:19 PM

My prediction for the Next New Thing is for the Blenders to take some of their old work, set it to new music, put it in different colored unitards, maybe add a funny hat or two -- new! new! -- and retitle it. I'll bet you few would notice.

Only slightly more seriously, there is a huge amount of stageable repertory that's slipping away -- Fokine, Massine, Nijinska (she didn't just do two ballets), not to mention Tudor, Robbins and Ashton. I doubt a serious theater company would do ONLY Shakespeare and New Last Tuesday.

#35 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 09:03 PM

But Alexandra, you've just described (sans funny hats) a Cunningham event! Of course, the recombination in that case is the very point.

#36 Alexandra

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 09:18 PM

Not quite a Cunningham Event, as he -- I hate to say "strung together -- excerpts from past dances (and, as you pointed out, the recombination was the very point) and, as far as I know, kept the same costumes. And not for any lack of creativity, of course.

#37 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 09:50 PM

Costumes and scenery were also shuffled; everything was meant to be seen in a new context. But as we're both implying, there's no attempt to sell old wares as new; it was a way of reviewing and reevaluating repertory.

#38 LMCtech

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Posted 02 July 2001 - 04:14 PM

Alexandra, I don't think this is the next new thing I think this IS the new thing. I wear every piece I've seen lately I've seen before.


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