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Don Daniels and Concerto Baroccoin the current Ballet Review


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#1 atm711

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 12:10 PM

A great ballet---but---isn't this interpretation far-fetched? :wub:

#2 Ray

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 12:25 PM

A great ballet---but---isn't this interpretation far-fetched? :wub:


Can you provide a quotation or some description? I don't have the latest BR.

#3 atm711

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 02:55 AM

A great ballet---but---isn't this interpretation far-fetched? :innocent:


Can you provide a quotation or some description? I don't have the latest BR.



Quotes? rather hard to come by. The article is 25 pages and 8 of them are devoted to Concerto Barocco. Suffice it to say I have never seen CB discussed in the same breath as flowering orchids, James Agee, Billie Holliday and visiting insects.

#4 Ray

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 03:45 AM

A great ballet---but---isn't this interpretation far-fetched? :innocent:


Can you provide a quotation or some description? I don't have the latest BR.



Quotes? rather hard to come by. The article is 25 pages and 8 of them are devoted to Concerto Barocco. Suffice it to say I have never seen CB discussed in the same breath as flowering orchids, James Agee, Billie Holliday and visiting insects.


Now you're just teasing us.

#5 Dale

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 07:01 AM

Don Daniels has a very fanciful style. I always read his essays but sometimes I roll my eyes and think, "that's a stretch." He decides, without much hard evidence, that Concerto Barocco is about pollination. After watching a silent film of a 1943 performance of the ballet and SAB's recent workshop production, Daniels says, "we can see that Balanchine may have intended a formal botanical tribute to South America as the land of the orchid. The second, Largo movement especially looks like an allegory on the pollination and reproduction of this most beautifully baroque of blooms." I don't mind if this is what he sees. It's interesting to look at the ballet and imagine flowers. But to assign this sort of aim to Balanchine (as he has several other theories in essays about The Four Temperaments and other ballets) seems a little unfair. He writes it as an absolute and not a subjective reading.

On the whole, the essay has many interesting things to say about the ballets he's looking at, such as recent premieres at NYCB and ABT.

#6 Jack Reed

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 08:59 AM

He writes it as an absolute and not a subjective reading.


But isn't that the main mode of metaphorical expression? Sure, it can be hard to follow, if there are no suggestions at all about the correspondence between the metaphor and the thing represented. This one sounds entertaining in itself, though, and I'll have to look for a copy of the article.

#7 Dale

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 09:32 AM

You're right, most criticism works best when it is written with Olympian tone. My objection to his absolute opinion is that he's putting it in the mind of somebody else; in this case, Balanchine.

#8 dirac

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 10:25 AM

Don Daniels has a very fanciful style. I always read his essays but sometimes I roll my eyes and think, "that's a stretch."


Iíve had the same reaction. A wonderful writer and I always look for his byline -- but. This piece sounds a bit extravagant even for him.

You're right, most criticism works best when it is written with Olympian tone.


I think very few writers can get away with it, though. Itís okay coming from Edmund Wilson but a risky business for most others.

#9 Quiggin

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 12:57 PM

Suffice it to say I have never seen CB discussed in the same breath as flowering orchids, James Agee, Billie Holliday and visiting insects.


The James Agee part would be definitely too much!

But B's ballets are full of fertility images (another theme for the communities and hierarchies thread perhaps). And sometimes you need overripe ideas and metaphors to draw something interesting out of a subject. How would Wallace Stevens write about B? Or Mandelstam--or Tsypkin, of the "Summer in Baden Baden" Dostoyevksy swimming lessons? And is Ballet Review supposed to be a scholarly journal? (I've only seen the first ten or so issues, with their nakedly Olympian tone)

#10 dirac

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 02:17 PM

How would Wallace Stevens write about B?


I like to think he did. :P

#11 Quiggin

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 04:24 PM

Yes, of course!

For she was the maker of the song she sang.
The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea
Was merely a play by which she walked to sing...

That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,
As we beheld her striding there along,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang, and, singing, made.


:The opening of Chaconne, with Farrell or Kent?

#12 dirac

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 04:56 PM

You know, I wouldn't have thought to mention it, but I do picture Farrell when I read this poem. And, for Mr B:

The maker's rage to order words of the sea,


Itís funny to think that Balanchine almost wound up in Stevensí neck of the woods.

I donít think Kent ever danced Chaconne, it came along too late for her. She would have been ravishing in the first pas de deux, although Iím not sure if her technique and stamina would have been quite up to the baroque extravagance of the second?

I guess we're wandering afield, like Mr. Daniels.....

#13 Jack Reed

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 03:03 PM

Elysian fields?

Thanks for those lines, Quiggin. They went right into that place still fresh from seeing a couple of numbers from Chaconne, danced by Farrell with Lavery, just the other day.

#14 Quiggin

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 01:41 AM

Thanks for those lines.


It was dirac who suggested the connection--from The Idea of Order at Key West. Sometimes Wallace Stevens would dress up his northern realities with trimmings from Florida and the south ("Florida...The state with the prettiest name / the state that floats on brackish water,": Elizabeth Bishop).

Stevens, in one of his letters to Jose' Rodriguez Feo in Cuba (who called Stevens "Wallachio"), characterized the North/South divide this way, "The moon which moves over Havana these nights like a waitress serving drinks moves around Connecticut like someone poisoning her husband."

Elsewhere he wrote "the moon follows the sun like a French translation of a Russian poet".

#15 dirac

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 06:48 PM

A great ballet---but---isn't this interpretation far-fetched? :wink:


I'm inclined to agree with you that the orchid pollination business does seem to be a bit strained (I'm sorry, William Dollar's costume does not remind me of bees), although I enjoyed reading it and Daniels provides some beautiful images.


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