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Diaghilev Ballet Russe Centenary Celebration 2009Diaghilev Lecture by Princess Nina Lobanov-Rostovsky


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#61 volcanohunter

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Posted 26 December 2009 - 01:14 PM

From French television, clips from Rite of Spring danced by the Ballet of the Bordeaux Opera House and a report on the Ballets Russes from Monte Carlo

http://culturebox.fr...
http://culturebox.fr...aco_ont_100_ans

#62 Amy Reusch

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Posted 26 December 2009 - 09:33 PM

It's so interesting to watch them dancing Rite... their dancing so post-modern... so "just give me the counts and and I'll dance it"... I can't imagine the original dancers being able to manage such a detached rendition of the movement.

#63 leonid17

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 02:10 AM

I can't imagine the original dancers being able to manage such a detached rendition of the movement.


There are a number of accounts of the rehearsals of the original production and Diaghilev having met Marie Rambert a student of eurhythmics, at the Dalcroze School took her into his company initially to assist with figuring out Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring with Nijinsky. Briefly, eurhythmics is a dance training method pioneered by Émile Jaques-Dalcroze which uses physical movements and musical rhythms to teach and establish musical concepts.

Having heard Dame Marie Rambert both talk and discuss the rehearsals of "The Rite of Spring", I personally have no doubt that the Diaghilev Company did assume what was required by Nijinsky after its reputed 100 rehearsals.

I have seen the Kirov production of this work staged by Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer which was glorious in its designs and very well performed, but to my mind, lacked the weight in steps and movement which was once so visible in the character dancing of Russian ballet companies of the 1960's.

From all the descriptions and discussions of the original I have read and witnessed, I am happy to believe that Dame Marie Rambert was an effective teacher of rhythm and movement (she was also ballet trained) enabling the concept of the original production envisaged by Roerich, Stravinsky and Nijinsky.

Echoes of the first production difficulties in rehearsing this ballet can be found in an article by Kenneth Archer and Millicent Hodson at
http://www.ballet.co..._rite_diary.htm

#64 volcanohunter

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 04:47 PM

Video of another Ballets Russes triple bill

http://culturebox.fr..._de_Monte-Carlo

#65 Amy Reusch

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 06:39 PM

I like the clip they chose to use from Prodigal...

I would have liked to have seen the original Rite... perhaps the original dancers had more intent in the force of their movement, but who knows? Today's dancers are almost nonchalant about the musical challenge... the tension may have informed the movement of the originals differently... regardless of how well they knew it.

#66 leonid17

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 09:27 AM

"... perhaps the original dancers had more intent in the force of their movement, but who knows?"


I have a witness account as to the "...intent in the force of their movement,...", Dame Marie Rambert who coached them in the varying weights of the steps, the port de bras and the rhythmic content which she expressed in filmed interviews, lectures and few very short discussions.

"Today's dancers are almost nonchalant about the musical challenge... the tension may have informed the movement of the originals differently... regardless of how well they knew it.”

I think after more than 100 rehearsals it would be generous to accept that they would have known the choreography very well. They also had several advantages over some of today’s dancers. Firstly, notation was part of the Imperial Theatre School curriculum which gave them a particular skill and secondly the wide number of character styles they performed in both ballets and operas on a very regular basis.

I believe the crossover from the various rhythms of character dances to Nijinsky choreography whilst complex, was probably easier to attain than that of "Today’s dancers..."

I repeat your statement, "Today's dancers are almost nonchalant about the musical challenge... the tension may have informed the movement of the originals differently..." In this I think you are correct.

There is a divide between the appreciation and understanding of ballets of the past that comes from the period in which they were witnessed. For instance NYCB
does not dance the Balanchine repertoire in the same manner as when I saw them in the early 1960's not just because the dancers are different but the aesthetic has altered. Nor does the Royal Ballet dance Ashton's "The Dream" in the same way as it did in the 1960's.

This does mean however that the original conceptions can only be reasonably faithfully fully reproduced if there is a will. Dancers are instruments and co-creators of their performances. The companies that perform older ballets need to be able to cast effectively and fully prepare dancers in the choreographic mode of the original if they are to serve the choreographer who has provided the means of attracting audiences.

#67 Amy Reusch

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 11:36 AM

I guess in the end what matters is if it still "works"... does the ballet still touch an audience even if the costumes have radically changed and the dancers' step shapes have radically changed (I'm thinking of Swan Lake in it's various evolutions here, not this reconstruction of Rite of Spring)... Does classical vocabulary stand up through changes in volume (does a choreographed arabesque still work to the same effect if it changes in height from 60 degrees to 180 degrees?) differently than other movement vocabulary? Can the Paris Opera perform Graham? You bring up an interesting idea... what would Rite of Spring look like reconstructed on a character dance company??

But what about Scheherezade for which the audience's lens has changed so dramatically... it's now so tame compared to what risqué might now be (do we even have a concept of risqué anymore?)

#68 leonid17

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 01:51 PM

I guess in the end what matters is if it still "works"... does the ballet still touch an audience even if the costumes have radically changed and the dancers' step shapes have radically changed (I'm thinking of Swan Lake in it's various evolutions here, not this reconstruction of Rite of Spring)... Does classical vocabulary stand up through changes in volume (does a choreographed arabesque still work to the same effect if it changes in height from 60 degrees to 180 degrees?) differently than other movement vocabulary? Can the Paris Opera perform Graham? You bring up an interesting idea... what would Rite of Spring look like reconstructed on a character dance company??

But what about Scheherezade for which the audience's lens has changed so dramatically... it's now so tame compared to what risqué might now be (do we even have a concept of risqué anymore?)


You have for me, raised some interesting questions especially when you talk about, “I guess in the end what matters is if it still "works"... does the ballet still touch an audience even if the costumes have radically changed and the dancers' step shapes have radically changed.”

I am not sure if you mean that fidelity to an accepted masterwork is passé and can be subjected to alteration even if it destroys the homogeneity of language and intended meanings. If so, it is no longer speaking with an authentic voice of its creator and its historic status as an art work is I believe part of its appeal.

You mention “Swan Lake” which concerns true love overcoming evil which is central to most Romantic and Academic Classical Ballets. This ballet with its soaring music in very good performances is for me an uplifting experience.

In overt unsympathetic changes to the production meanings get lost and the intended spiritual content may get muddied in the process

"Does classical vocabulary stand up through changes in volume (does a choreographed arabesque still work to the same effect if it changes in height from 60 degrees to 180 degrees?) differently than other movement vocabulary? "

Personally speaking, when one becomes aware of the physicality of a dancer in Romantic or Academic Classical Ballet (and in other forms) the dancer and the production has failed and when 180 degree poses in arabesque or ala seconde punctuate the air, in these genre of choreography I am ready to walk. If such a position is hit in neo-classical or modern ballet works I can take a different view.

We all know that ballets change a little or a lot over the years and attempts re-creations of original productions have in certain instances been admirable and reflect the position of other theatrical forms which have gone back in research and study to bring a bout realisations somewhat closer to the creator’s original versions.

The question to be asked is how important is a choreographic text compared with a musical score and how important is it to retain the stylistics of original productions?

“You bring up an interesting idea... what would Rite of Spring look like reconstructed on a character dance company?”

I am not sure what you mean by “…a character dance company.” Do you mean a “folk/ethnic” dance companies like, Cossack Dance companies or the Moiseyev Dance Company or the Georgian State Dance Company etc?

“But what about Scheherazade for which the audience's lens has changed so dramatically... it's now so tame compared to what risqué might now be (do we even have a concept of risqué anymore?)”

I have seen some risqué and some ridiculous attempts at risqué performances of Scheherazade. Because it is theatre, I have always taken the view of it being a picturesque drama with an inevitable outcome and I suspect this was the reaction of the social class that filled the theatre on June 4, 1910 in Paris, which was it appears less shockable than some cities in the UK or USA of that time.

As to it being “tame”, to go further for me, is to enter into the non-theatricality of overt sexual activity where obviousness replaces the more subtle theatrical suggestion and separates it from being an artistic expression.

#69 leonid17

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Posted 31 December 2009 - 11:35 AM

Today ends the 1909 centenary celebration year for Diaghilev’s Saison Russe but there are still more events scheduled to take place up until 2011, as loaned objects circulate the globe, as one exhibition closes and another opens.

This thread has been stimulatingly kept alive by 14 contributors and attracted more than 9000 hits shows that in the history of the Diaghlev's company still attracts
worldwide attention.

I received a PM from a distinguished fellow balletalker asking if I might write something about the Diaghilev revivals I have seen over nearly 50 years of ballet going. Regrettably it is a task too far and it is rather difficult to fully explain the very large gap that exists between the productions staged with assistance from original casts and Diaghilev’s co-workers to modern performances of revivals. Simply put, the heart is missing in most revivals I have seen in recent years.

My experience of the Diaghilev repertoire began when I started going to the Royal Ballet and London Festival Ballet where I saw productions which involved, Tamara Karsavina, Serge Grigoriev and Lubov Tchernicheva, Lydia Sokolova (also on stage in The Good Humoured Ladies)and Stanislav Idzikovsky , Dame Marie Rambert, Leonid Massine, Bronislava Nijinska, Dame Ninette de Valois and Dame Alicia Markova, Alicia Nikitina and Anton Dolin all of whom had appeared in Diaghilev’s original productions and here I was standing near to them in the crush bar or foyer. For a teenage balletomane this was heaven. Later(1965), seeing the person of Balanchine at the Royal Opera House was a real thrill.

To add to such luminaries, there was Arnold Haskell and Cyril Beaumont who had contributed studies on the performances of the Diaghilev Ballets they had witnessed both of whom were approachable.

Apart from the Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer reconstruction of Le Sacre du Printemps, which I admire, I have only seen clips of revivals as posted on youtube and form links listed here on balletalk. I have not really been convinced by any of the interpretations I have viewed as capturing the spirit of the original performances as I see them from my experience and studies.

For instance, the films of Spectre I have seen to me seem some distance away from the performance by Marius Liepa who visited Tamara Karsavina for advice on the role.

The Ballets Russe exhibitions and events across the world have given exciting opportunities to huge numbers of visitors and I am waiting in anticipation for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s contribution in London which opens in September 2010. Here is a link to the V&A website that gives details of the collection and exhibition.
http://www.vam.ac.uk...ilev/index.html

#70 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 01 January 2010 - 05:04 PM

Thanks, Leonid, for the appreciation. I am hoping, despite living far from ANYwhere, to go to the exhibit at the V&A. Your link to the V&A opens a wide new world!

#71 volcanohunter

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 01:43 PM

A few more reports on the Ballets Russes from French television

http://culturebox.fr...
http://culturebox.fr...
http://culturebox.fr...-ballets-russes

#72 phenby

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 11:26 PM

Last year I had the occasion to visit the Ballets Russes exhibitions in Stockholm, St Petersburg and Moscow. I believe all of these have presently completed their runs so perhaps some brief summaries might interest since I have seen few reviews in the Western press.

Tonight, the Dansmuseet in Stockholm.

Several museums possess an original Ballets Russes costume or two in in their wardrobe collections, if they maintain them. Here in Los Angeles the LACMA has one from Chant du Rossignol. Pity that so many are scattered about. Happily the Dansmuseet has some 130+ and just about all of them were on display and what a display it was! No exhibition of art designs, production photos, programs, newspaper reviews or filmed recreations has ever approached the visual and tactile immediacy of experiencing these costumes en masse. The conservation and presentation efforts of the Dansmuseet surpass anything I've seen elsewhere. Herewith a list of the goodies.

Le Pavillon d’Armide [Bakst] 6 costumes
Danses polovtsiennes [Roerich] 5 costumes
Cléopâtre [Bakst] 6 costumes
Schéhérazade [Bakst] 13 costumes
Giselle [Benois] 1 costume
L’Oiseau de feu [Golovin] 7 costumes + [Goncharova] 3 costumes
Narcisse [Bakst] 5 costumes
Petrushka [Benois] 1 costume
Le Dieu bleu [Bakst] 6 costumes
Thamar [Bakst] 9 costumes
Daphnis et Chloé [Bakst] 7 costumes
Le Sacre du printemps [Roerich] 6 costumes [15 costumes in catalog]
Le Coq d’or [Gontcharova] 3 costumes
Sadko [Gontcharova] 5 costumes
La boutique fantasque [Derain] 2 costumes
Le Tricorne [Picasso] 2 costumes [in display: not in catalog]
Le Chant du Rossignol [Matisse] 2 costumes
Le Astuzie femminili/Cimarosiana [Sert] 12 costumes
Chout [Larionov] 8 costumes
The Sleeping Princess [Baskt] 14 costumes
Aurora’s Wedding [Gontcharova] 2 costumes
Les Noces [Goncharova] 2 costumes
Les Biches [Laurencin] 2 costumes [in catalog only: not on display]
La Pastorale [Pruna] 2 costumes
Ode [Tchelitchev] 2 costumes
Le Bal [de Chirico] 1 costume

There were also a handful of original designs:
Bakst: The Sleeping Princesse: Columbine
Benois: Le Pavillon d'Armide: A Chevalier, Favorite Slave, Marquis, King Hydraot

And a few film clips of recreations on monitors, though all seen before.

There is a catalog issued in conjuction with the exhibition:
Ballets Russes: The Stockholm Collection
edited by Erik Nåslund [the texts are in Swedish & English]
(Stockholm, 2009) xxxii & 354pp
These are the best photographic reproductions of Ballets Russes costumes I know of!

Many costumes from Diaghilev's company remain in private hands to this day. The Dansmuseet hope to acquire as many as opportunity and funds permit. I wish them every good fortune.

PHENBY

#73 leonid17

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 02:56 AM

Thank you phenby for posting such extensive information on the Danmuseet exhibition. I am astounded at the number of costumes being displayed and was pleased to read your impressions of the quality of the catalogue.

Although 1909 has been and gone, the exhibitions continue to enable different countries to see the various loans.

Later this year as earlier posted, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London will have a chance to mark the celebration. If they can in any way match the Dansmuseet
exhibition, it really will be something to look forward to.

#74 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:29 AM

I checked the website for the Dansmuseet, to see if any of the costume images were online. Here is a link: Stockholm Dansmuseet . The exhibit is extended until April 25, 2010. They have a daily showing of Ballets Russes related films that would knock your socks off! There is a link to an essay about the exhibit and several "Thumbnail" photos of items they are showing.

Lucky anyone who can get there. The list of costumes is amazing.


(edited to correct)

#75 Lynette H

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 05:32 AM

There's an article about the forthcoming exhibition on the V & A web site

http://www.vam.ac.uk...ilev/index.html

This has links to other V&A resources - including an article on ealier work involved in conserving Ballet Russes costumes (more than 1000 hours on one costume alone...).


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