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IsadoraRedacted Version of MacMillan Ballet


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#1 miliosr

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Posted 12 March 2009 - 09:48 AM

So, what is the word from our UK correspondents regarding the redacted version of Kenneth MacMillan's Isadora? An improvement on the much-maligned full-length version?? How does it compare to other Isadora tributes such as Ashton's Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan or Limon's Dances for Isadora???

(I'm disappointed that my Moor Ed Watson didn't get to play Yesinin, since he plays neurotic/psychotic characters so well! :wink: )

#2 leonid17

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Posted 12 March 2009 - 01:06 PM

So, what is the word from our UK correspondents regarding the redacted version of Kenneth MacMillan's Isadora? An improvement on the much-maligned full-length version?? How does it compare to other Isadora tributes such as Ashton's Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan or Limon's Dances for Isadora???

(I'm disappointed that my Moor Ed Watson didn't get to play Yesinin, since he plays neurotic/psychotic characters so well! :wink: )


I will not be seeing "Isadora" as I found it loathesome when fully staged and as I left the theatre felt I had experienced three weeks of torture. As the torture has been reduced to something like a week I am not tempted even with Tamara Rojo in the role. In the matter of Mr. MacMillan I concur with the views Jane Simpson expressed in Dance view in 2003. I am sorry to say I have never seen Limon's "Five evocations of Isadora" but have seen Ashton's work a good number of times. In his "Five Brahms Waltzes......" I have never failed to be moved by various casts in his evocation of Miss Duncan and Lynn Seymour with her softly contoured figure and extraordinary theatrical ability brought the emotional, psychological and aesthetic Isadora to life in a way that 2 hours plus of MacMillan never achieved. I should have liked to have seen the companion work on the programme, but after the RB's original cast for "Dances at a Gathering" I have always been a little disappointed in subsequent casts. THe other tragedy apart from "Isadora" is that MacMillan's best works, the one act ballets are neglected and instead his terrible version of "The Prince of the Pagodas" is according to Deborah Mac Millan(before whom it now seems all must bow down), to be revived three years hence.

#3 Jane Simpson

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Posted 12 March 2009 - 01:27 PM

So, what is the word from our UK correspondents regarding the redacted version of Kenneth MacMillan's Isadora? An improvement on the much-maligned full-length version??


The cynical answer would be that yes, it was an improvement - it was shorter. But it didn't work, even in this form. For a lot of reasons, the basic one for me being that I still don't understand what MacMillan thinks of Isadora as a dancer or a woman: does he admire her? despise her? - I have no idea. We are just presented with a series of events, with little emotional content except immediately after the death of Isadora's children, and the ending is so brusque and banal that it's hard to care. There was a lot to admire in Tamara Rojo's performance though I think someone (like Lynn Seymour) more prepared to go over the top dramatically might be more in tune with the character as presented here.

And Watson did dance Edward Gordon Craig but was seen to much better advantage in an impressive debut in Dances at a Gathering in the second half of this strange pairing - I said to my husband on the way out how good I thought he was and a total stranger turned round and said 'Yes, wasn't it nice to see him looking cheerful?'.

#4 dirac

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Posted 12 March 2009 - 02:31 PM

but after the RB's original cast for "Dances at a Gathering" I have always been a little disappointed in subsequent casts.


The Royal Ballet’s original cast for Dances was an extraordinary group, wasn’t it? A very hard act to follow, for anyone.

The cynical answer would be that yes, it was an improvement - it was shorter.


Ouch. :)

Did anyone see Merle Park as Isadora? I've only seen her in photos and clips, but she certainly doesn't seem like the type.

#5 bart

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Posted 12 March 2009 - 04:19 PM

Thanks, Jane, for being so clear ... and so prompt! :) Here are a couple of more hot-off-the-press reviews:

Mark Monahan:
http://www.telegraph...n---review.html

Isadora's steps look dated, one-dimensional, and even irritatingly self-indulgent – to the point where one wonders if the problem is largely that MacMillan is conveying Duncan's essence too potently in a world that's moved on.

Like her life, the piece drips in melodrama, and the voiceover swells the impression of a galloping egomaniac. What's more, caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of sugar-coating her racism or declaring it, the piece opts for candour, with alienating results. But, above all, there's the knowledge of how much more sublimely stirring Rojo usually is, when performing the "stiff and commonplace gymnastics" that Isadora herself so squarely rejected: ie, ballet



Judith Mackell:
http://www.guardian....l-ballet-review

There is just so much wrong with this. The surviving chunks of MacMillan's choreography - Isadora's solos, her pas de deux with her lovers, the stark dance of mourning for her two dead children - are now squeezed in between the film footage, so they look like low-budget snippets of "live reconstruction". And while the language rises to occasional vintage MacMillan poetry, it is nowhere near as detailed as the choreography in Mayerling or Manon.

The dancing is also dwarfed by the voiceover, which gives us long passages of Duncan's own writings. These are entertaining enough - Isadora was the DH Lawrence of dance, with her raging against the modern machine. But back in 1981, MacMillan couldn't find the language to communicate what made Duncan's beliefs so earth-shattering when they were embodied in her dancing - and this inert revival does nothing to address that.


Both seem to give points to Rojo for trying her best -- and to dislike the voiceover that accompanies the dance.

#6 miliosr

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Posted 13 March 2009 - 10:48 AM

Thanks to our London correspondents for replying!

I've seen Tamara Rojo perform the Ashton Isadora on YouTube. Is she the only performer ever to dance both the Ashton and MacMillan takes on Isadora Duncan?

#7 leonid17

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Posted 13 March 2009 - 12:37 PM

Thanks to our London correspondents for replying!

I've seen Tamara Rojo perform the Ashton Isadora on YouTube. Is she the only performer ever to dance both the Ashton and MacMillan takes on Isadora Duncan?


I do not recall either Dame Merle Park or Sandra Conley dancing the Brahms Waltzes.

#8 leonid17

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Posted 15 March 2009 - 04:31 AM

Deborah MacMillan reveals a diary version of the background and staging process of the reduced Isadora in The Spectator at: http://www.spectator...726/diary.thtml

More reviews are to be found in todays links.


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