When and why do you redesign a ballet?
Posted 31 August 2001 - 10:47 AM
Why redesign a ballet? If I were King, here is when I would order it. The general rule for me? I'd redesign not to change the ballet, but to maintain its meaning. Some examples:
If the ballet was supposed to take place in the present or in no time at all and the costumes gave the work a date. (A discussable example, the hairpieces for the women in Hans van Manen's Grosse Fuge. But I think changing the men's skirts changes the ballet unconscionably)
If the point of the costumes was to provide chic frisson when they were done. If the idea was to be au courant, or even ahead of the time, then I'd consider redesigning to maintain that. This is very dangerous, though; I think the Ashton redesignings show that. The point is to stay with the ballet's meaning, not to spice it up. But what if spiciness was the original point?
So to begin the heresy, what would I redesign? La Valse would probably be my first candidate. I probably wouldn't alter what was already there, I just want it to be more specific. At the State Theater, the ballet seems to take place on a bald, bare stage with black swags. I want it to take place in a ballroom. It wouldn't take much, just a suggestion of walls; it might only need re-lighting. But I would alter things until I felt like the ballet was happening somewhere instead of nowhere.
What ballet would I resort to violence to prevent redesigning? Liebeslieder Walzer.
So what are your thoughts on this? Don't forget design encompasses sets, costumes, hairpieces, lighting. . .
Posted 31 August 2001 - 11:28 AM
so i presume you mean you think that karinska's costumes should not be re-thought/designed.
[ 08-31-2001: Message edited by: rg ]
Posted 31 August 2001 - 12:38 PM
I can't imagine "Concerto Barocco" in pink polka-dot hot pants, and I don't think "Monotones" needs to be redesigned. (But like all rules, someone may well come up with a "better" Barocco or Monotones that I can't imagine.)
The recent "Les Rendezvous" redesign is an interesting example, because there was a case to be made for both sides, I think. Many people (including me) hated them. For me, they were too cute and bright, the distinction between the four little girls and the young women got lost, the sense of confinement and convention wasn't there, and most importantly, the designs (in the sense of the costumes) got in the way of the design (in the sense of choreography). BUT there's also a case to be made that the original costumes were dated, and that the brightness of the new designs captured the "bright young thing" aspect of the choreography.
Posted 31 August 2001 - 01:02 PM
Here then the list of credits:
Chor: Frederick Ashton; mus: D.F.E. Auber (L'enfant prodigue, arr. by Constant Lambert); scen & cos: William Chappell. First perf: London, Sadler's Wells Theatre, Dec 5, 1933, Vic-Wells Ballet.//New production: Sadler's Wells Theatre, Nov 16, 1937, Vic-Wells Ballet; scen (new): William Chappell.//Revival: London, Sadler's Wells Theatre, Dec 26, 1947, Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet; scen & cos: (new); William Chappell.//First New York perf: Mar 25, 1952, Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet.//First National Ballet of Canada perf: Hamilton, Ontario, Palace Theatre, Nov 5, 1956; scen & cos: Kay Ambrose after William Chappell.//Revival: London, Royal Opera House,
Covent Garden, May 7, 1959, Royal Ballet; scen: Sophie Fedorovitch (sets originally made for Act I of Verdi's La traviata); cos: (new): William Chappell.
Posted 31 August 2001 - 01:10 PM
But I had hoped, Robert, that you'd explain why you thought the new designs were either equal to, or an improvement, over the older ones. (I was trying to provide an example of a recent redesign that many people here have either seen or at least read about, and have different views on whether it had worked, and I don't think I presented the "pro" view adequately.)
[ 08-31-2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]
Posted 31 August 2001 - 01:46 PM
[ 08-31-2001: Message edited by: rg ]
Posted 01 September 2001 - 07:11 AM
There's redesign. . .and then there's redesign. For example, two years ago, after I'd lit Scherzo Fantastique for Dance As Ever, I remember thinking that I'd like another shot at lighting that set -- I didn't hate the way it looked, but I thought it didn't quite look "complete". Fortunately, I'm getting that opportunity soon. Is this a "redesign", or just a tweaking of an existing design? What's the difference? Where's the line drawn?
Posted 01 September 2001 - 09:31 AM
Posted 01 September 2001 - 03:56 PM
As long as there's a valid reason and the new designs stay true to the spirit of the piece, I say there's no reason NOT to redesign.
Besides, I could use the work.
Posted 01 September 2001 - 04:25 PM
Aside from the personal taste or employment needs of the artists involved what drives the need to redesign? Will "Four Temperaments" (in its current black-and-white state, which I do know is not the original) look dated some day? I think the case can be made that what keeps something from looking like a museum piece -- whatever that is; I know it's a term used a lot, but I'm never quite sure what it means other than 'something older than what it is I've just proposed to do') -- is the dancers.
[ 09-01-2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]
Posted 01 September 2001 - 04:56 PM
[ 09-01-2001: Message edited by: rg ]
Posted 01 September 2001 - 06:16 PM
When I referred to "museum pieces" (except, of course, for my gratuitous wisecrack about the Met, which I just threw in because. . .well. . .just because), I was thinking of works that are finished -- not to be worked on again, ever. Few dances, in my opinion, fall into that category.
[ 09-02-2001: Message edited by: salzberg ]
Posted 01 September 2001 - 06:49 PM
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