Posted 28 February 2000 - 06:42 PM
I love the "perky allegro" category, Jeannie. That's a good way to put it. I think Dale's emploi for Symphony in C makes sense.
I've read several times that Peter Martins will say that Balanchine divided his repertory into tall boy and short boy, and I think you can see that in Martins' casting, but I don't think that always works. I remember Croce once criticizing ABT's Swan Lake for making anyone who was tall be a nobleman and anyone short be a peasant but, as she said, it's their short men (at that time) who were the more elegant. One of the problems may be that it is very hard to have a company that has dancers right for "Billy the Kid" who have to do "Swan Lake" the next night. Another reason why employ has remained stricter in the great, old companies who stick more to their "native" repertory.
Posted 29 February 2000 - 12:22 PM
Alexandra, your categorization of male roles was most enlightening. I guess that all the new production of the classics which changed quite a lot the male roles (for example Nureyev's production, which generally add some new variations for the male) increased the confusion between the "emplois", so that all prince roles are considered a bit the same... But from your examples, I realized that at the POB, Manuel Legris was at his best in "classique" roles (James, Albrecht, Spectre...) rather than "noble" ones.
You wrote that the "old noble style was decapitated around 1789", coule you elaborate? And also could you give some example of dancers who really were "danseurs nobles" (a bit more recent than Duport if possible) in your opinion, to have a clearer idea of what it means?
Guest_Laura C. Cutler_*
Posted 01 March 2000 - 04:49 AM
[This message has been edited by Laura C. Cutler (edited March 01, 2000).]
Posted 01 March 2000 - 09:12 AM
Posted 01 March 2000 - 09:19 AM
(Does anyone know if Bujones ever did do Albrecht, and how it was?)
His sixes were really great in Act II.
It is a shame if she stopped dancing Myrtha after starting dancing Giselle--I can't imagine anyone better in that role.
Well, I could. She's been mentioned a lot in this thread already....
Posted 01 March 2000 - 10:16 AM
I guess it took a little time after 1789 before mythological ballets became unpopular, because, from what I've read, among Pierre Gardel's most popular ballets there were "Telemaque", "Psyche" (both created in 1790), and "Le jugement de Pâris" (created in 1793),
and I think they still are among the most often performed pieces of the POB's repertory (of course they haven't been performed for more than a century, but they were performed very often in the years after their premieres).
Posted 01 March 2000 - 12:27 PM
Posted 01 March 2000 - 01:18 PM
Posted 01 March 2000 - 02:10 PM
But after 1789 the arts could never again be the preserve of a small class in France (or in Britain, for that matter, where the change occurred two centuries earlier, in Elizabethan times) -- never again could artistic prestige be determined from the top and particularly by the tastes of the Court alone. After the deluge we are squarely into an era when art of any kind must cater to a much more popular and mixed public taste. And also, not insignificantly I think, when art must pay its own way and not depend simply on the patronage of the Court (although noble patronage continues to be of importance, competing with other forms of financial support).
Contrast this with Russia, where absolutism (and serfdom and other things) persist under the Metternichian settlement of the Congress of Vienna until nearly the twentieth century.
Posted 01 March 2000 - 09:07 PM
But returning to emploi - I've been trying without success to find something that Ninette de Valois wrote about this subject. As I remember she defined the types as Danseur Noble, demicaractere and character dancers. But then she added that the most useful dancer was the really good demicaractere artist because, at a pinch, he or she could substitute for either of the other categories. Practical thinking if you ar running a company on a limited budget I suppose.
[This message has been edited by Alymer (edited March 01, 2000).]
Posted 01 March 2000 - 10:06 PM
Anacreontic (e-nàk´rê-òn´tîk) adjective
Of or in the manner of the poems of Anacreon, especially being convivial or amatory in subject.
A poem written in the style of Anacreon.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
~Steve (Upset now that Jeannie has joined Leigh and Nanatchka in always using big words that I don't know.)
Posted 02 March 2000 - 10:08 AM
Posted 02 March 2000 - 12:42 PM
Which reminded me of going through the National Gallery here on a guided tour a few years ago that included the French neoclassical room, and the art historian who was taking us around said, notice the bodies. They're a bit odd by our standards: small head, long neck, long arms and legs. Click! They're not odd! They're the bodies ballet was created on! (I couldn't help but point this out )
Flore et Zephyr and those ballets were the first that used the classique type in the leads, I think. I think it was also around this time that the commedia lost its noble characters (I never can remember their names) and Harlequin and Colombine became the leading characters.
As for later danseur nobles. Hmm. Does Pavel Gerdt help? There must have been something extraordinary about him that transcends the pudgebucket photos we have, else Petipa wouldn't have used him so frequently. Smakov calls him "Petipa's Blue Knight;" blue was the nobles' color, the color of the Prince's jacket (clear, beautiful "French blue," the color of Nureyev's jacket for Florimund in Sleeping Beauty). The danseur noble did survive in Russia, because Petipa brought him there. It may have been out of fashion in Paris, but the Russian absolute monarchy, and that culture, didn't mind a bit.
I think the danseur noble genre really died then, in any meaningful way. I agree with Alymer that the "most useful" dancer is the one that can do anything, and there are slightly shorter, and slighter, dancers who are quite convincing Princes -- at least to our eyes. Don't know what the Gardels would think. (Nureyev, Bruhn, Dowell would all be "classiques" BUT they had the weight, not only the deep rich plie, but the gravamen, to be wonderful Princes.]
Maybe the true danseurs nobles of more recent times would be Nikolaj Fadeyechev (he's on videos), Peter Martins--not to say that he danced those roles very often, but as a body type. Michael Somes, and his role in "Ondine" is a real danseur noble role. The only American dancer I'd put in that category was Patrick Bissell. I don't know enough about the current Russian crop of dancers to even make a stab at mentioning anybody. Of the dancers I've seen a lot of, Konstantin Zaklinsky. In Denmark, Kenneth Greve, today, and it really made a difference in the Martins' Swan Lake. When he walked on (in a blue costume) he created the court by his presence, not like a lost pizza delivery boy. Kronstam (6 foot 1) was a danseur noble, and there were actually two or three danseur noble roles created on him early in his career in the restoration of a few 18th century French opera-ballets (at a Festival in Aix-en-Provence). There are pictures of him in a tonnelot (sp) and gorgeous plumed helmet. I started exploring the genre question in depth when I started working on my book, because Kronstam's contemporaries (dancers) kept saying, "Now, he was a real danseur noble," and because they kept stressing that he could be very light and quick in certain roles, but had a weight that other dancers didn't have; it's what made him able to do modern dance when he was in his 40s.
Alymer (good to read you again) I remember DeValois talking about this, too -- interesting that there are usually only three genres, the noble, demicaractere and character; I think this is because by the 1930s the noble had been completely replaced, at least in the West, by the classique. In her "Invitation to the Dance" she also has the prescription for forming a ballet company. Take two classical ballerinas and two demicaractere ballerinas, etc. (But in Joan Lawson's writing, she describes the four genres quite thoroughly).
Michael, I loved your summary of history -- I agree totally. I would add that the Monarchist Russian ballet produced its greatest art in the late 19th century, when the ballet of the people in Paris had become decadent and produced nothing of lasting value
[This message has been edited by alexandra (edited March 02, 2000).]
Posted 02 March 2000 - 06:59 PM
I can only say that in Agon, the "types" cast in all the roles changed drastically in Balanchine's lifetime, ranging from Diana Adams originating the pas de deux and successors as diverse as Farrell, Kent, McBride and Watts to Bolender in the first pas de trois (suceeded by Villella, Blum, Cook, Duell and Boal) to the second Pas de trois (Hayden originating, shared by Verdy, suceeded by Patricia Neary, Gloria Govrin, Karin von Aroldingen, etc.) that although there is definitely a world of different dispositions envisaged on stage by Balanchine, he definitely did not stick with his original conception in any of these cases.
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