The Island of Lost Phrases
Posted 25 January 2002 - 01:15 PM
I'm sure we've all experienced this: we go to a revival or new production of a ballet we have come to love, only to find that a favorite bit just isn't done "right."
So what's on our lists of things we miss from ballets which are still being performed?
Posted 25 January 2002 - 01:26 PM
[ January 25, 2002: Message edited by: Mme. Hermine ]
Posted 25 January 2002 - 03:52 PM
Posted 25 January 2002 - 04:06 PM
Great thread, Manhattnik. When I get my head of of Lost Bournonvilleland, I'll start working on great Ashton, Balanchine and Petipa moments I once saw! Maybe we could do a Ballet Alert!'s version of The Ten Most Wanted?
Posted 25 January 2002 - 05:11 PM
The moments people are mentioning in Liebeslieder, were they moments that Balanchine choreographed or moments added by the individual performer? This is always interesting to me. And do they get handed down? Are they part (or do they become part) of the "text"? Do they qualify as inhabitants of the Island of Lost Phrases, or am I talking about something different?
Posted 25 January 2002 - 07:04 PM
There are a lot of instances where one may remember a phrase that was specific to a certain performance, or generation, but one can miss it nonetheless. There's a former dancer-now-writer in Washington (Jane Murray) who can look at any Serenade and tell you: 1959 version, staged by X, the year that Sally S replaced Mary J as the third girl from the left and that's why this step-phrase-moment is different. (No, I'm not jealous.) That's the kind of knowledge only a backstager would have.
Often I don't realize I miss something until I see another company, or dancer, do the older version. When San Francisco Ballet first brought Symphony in C to DC about a decae ago, I noticed several tiny segments -- more than a step, less than a phrase -- that I'd forgotten I missed.
Manhattnik, what are your missing phrases?
[ January 25, 2002: Message edited by: alexandra ]
Posted 25 January 2002 - 08:21 PM
Posted 16 March 2002 - 08:18 PM
SO complex, for there are so MANY reasons a phrase /step can be lost --
for example, in Giselle, KARSAVINA herself says, the ballottes should be steps of elevation -- Giselle should soar, the knees bend, the feet should disappear under her skirt, and the body rock back and forth like a bouoy (How do you spell that?) -- nowadays, when women don't build thighs the same and can't alight from high jumps softly, the emphasis is always on the extension in fondu...
RE Liebeslieder, Balanchine himself recast it with the wonderful Kyra Nichols in the wonderful Violette Verdy role; I take class from Nichols's mother (the wonderful Sally Streets) and have come to know Nichols a bit -- what a nice person -- and she once told me -- so long ago, I've probably misremembered it -- that she was upset by critics who were upset that she didn't dance it like Violette did, and that she'd confided in a fellow dancer -- Nicole Hlinka, maybe -- who'd said "well, look, Mr B put you in the role. He knows, we all know, you're a very different kind of dancer from Violette, you're very light, she's very ["grounded," or something to that effect]. But he wants to see you dance it, so do it your way....' And she'd taken comfort from that.
And Marie Jeanne told me that in BAllet Imperial, the tricky double swivels the ballerina now starts out with -- "I didn't do anything as set as that -- he told me (again, this conversation was 10 years ago, I don't remember word for word, but she's a wonderful conversationalist, and she said something like this) "go out there and when hte music starts, do something crazy -- so I did something -- then the piano did something, and I did something else crazy, not the same thing; it was very jazzy, it wasn't set figures --" the timing was set, but not the moves.
Personally, the step I miss the most is in Tarantella, the ballerina's Suzy-Q exit at the end of one of her variations -- the one with the goofy echappes, I think -- that McBride does on the "German" tape I have. In San Fancisco Ballet's version, they replace the Suzy Q with a kind of goofy hobble-off (one foot flat, the other using the pointe), which is funny but not hilarious.... McBride doing SUzy Q makes me laugh OUT LOUD, every time, I never get over it....
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