Choreographing in Balanchine's Shadow
Posted 05 March 2002 - 11:28 PM
A long piece in the New Criterion about choreography after Balanchine. What do you think about her points?
Posted 11 March 2002 - 05:43 PM
Jacobs completely dismisses first time choreographer Melissa Barak's, barely 21, first piece. I liked Barak's piece, I thought the simplicity of it was what made it great. She understood her dancers and their limitations, but apparently that's not enough.
Jacob's piece just left a bad taste in my mouth. I don't know how old Balanchine was when he first started choreographing, but he didn't compete with television, films, special effects and a sense of "I want a masterpiece now" mentality that I feel Jacobs asks for.
Sorry, this a very passionate response, simply because poor Barak, she may end up being terrible, but she's only had one shot so far and what worked well on SAB maybe shouldn't have transferred to NYCB (that was Martins I think trying to create another 2 & 3 ) but it would be interesting to hear what she has to say without comparing choreographers to Balanchine, but maybe to each other.
And I know I'm in the minority, but I think Wheeldon is good, but is more of a result of great marketing and "over exposure" than a resident choreographer (again just a strong opinion!)
Posted 11 March 2002 - 05:58 PM
There will be no future choreographers if, on the one hand, they're judged as "No good, too close to Balanchine, just an imitator" OR "No good, not anything like Balanchine."
Also, IMO, one of the most dangerous things that has happened in the past 25 years is the dismissal of good, minor works. I remember Joan Acocella writing in a review of a biography of Agnes de Mille that (paraphrase) de Mille was a fourth rate choreographer, and that's nothing to sneeze at. She's right. It's not. Yet we have only Great Choreographers or Throw The Bums Out choreographers. I think this is a function of the current repertory being divided between The Classics and New Work. All of the perfectly okay small ballets of yesteryear have been vacuumed out to make way for more faux classics ("Merry Widow" ) or modern dance and ballet moderne works. No wonder there are so few new choreographers, and those there are (in this country) are choreographing in Balanchine's shadow.
Thanks for replying Calliope. Getting mad is fine smile.gif
p.s. Ashton made a lot of animal dances, as did Massine. I'm not particularly wild about them, but they're there, if that's your standard.
Posted 11 March 2002 - 06:03 PM
Posted 11 March 2002 - 07:02 PM
Minor issues: I don't see much point in denouncing the ill effects of television and personal computers -- even if you agree with her, and I don't, it seems to me like getting mad at the weather.
Also, while I might concede that Ashton rates somewhat below Balanchine, I'd object strenuously to bracketing him with Tudor, which seems to happen here. I understand her larger point, and that she has other things to discuss, but I'd hate for anyone to get the impression even in passing that he was just paddling feebly in Balanchine's wake.
Posted 11 March 2002 - 07:21 PM
(The same thing happened in modern dance, too. Once it was Graham-Humphrey. You probably liked one more than the other, and were more sympathetic to one or the other very different approaches, but they were both top of the line choreographers. Humphrey died first. Who's seen anything of Humphrey except a few old films?)
[ March 11, 2002, 07:26 PM: Message edited by: alexandra ]
Posted 12 March 2002 - 10:40 AM
Regarding Wheeldon, I would really love to see him be given more of chance to work. He has the title "Resident Choreographer" at NYCB, yet we've now seen one new piece, that's right, one (Variations Serieuses) in the calendar year between last March and this one. How do you expect someone to develop when they don't have the chance to create, create, create on the dancers, make good ballets, bad ballets, mistakes and things in the middle? Reading the biographies of good choreographers, I am generally struck by how much work they churn out in their formative years -- little pieces, big ones, chamber pieces, good ones and bad -- driven by the necessity of supporting the repertory of a company. Wheeldon needs to be given the chance to work more at NYCB or somewhere else. Otherwise the title is at best an empty accolade (bestowed perhaps [ironically] to keep him from working more and elsewhere) or at worst a faint kiss of death for his real development.
Posted 12 March 2002 - 01:32 PM
Wheeldon is also working in Boston......and surely, somewhere else as well?
Posted 12 March 2002 - 01:46 PM
Posted 12 March 2002 - 03:01 PM
It's also important that a young artist be able to make mistakes and that not everything they do be expected to be a blockbuster masterpiece. So I also think the more you give him work, the less the idea takes hold that every single thing he does has to prove itself a work of "genius." It takes the pressure off.
Faced with the prospect of all the Diamond Project works premiering this spring, as well as of revivals of a few past Diamond Project works as well this spring (and having seen four or five new PM ballets since winter 2001), I for one would be happy to see Chris Wheeldon make two or three new dances a year at City Ballet instead of one.
[ March 12, 2002, 03:03 PM: Message edited by: Michael1 ]
Posted 12 March 2002 - 03:52 PM
"oh you saw is broadway show"... come see the ballet he did..
Posted 12 March 2002 - 03:59 PM
This is one area where I think we're speculating without knowledge. We don't know if Wheeldon wants to work outside NYCB, and if so, what reasons. One could make the argument that NYCB is being very generous to let him. Seasons are planned far in advance -- this spring was probably planned before Wheeldon's appointment. I'm taking a wait and see on this one.
Posted 12 March 2002 - 07:41 PM
Posted 13 March 2002 - 09:30 AM
My point is only that I would like to see more of his work at New York City Ballet. Among so many new dances this year we could maybe have enjoyed one or two less by other choreographers and one or two more by him, particularly when they have made a point of providing him with a title and with a formal position here.
[ March 13, 2002, 09:32 AM: Message edited by: Michael1 ]
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