rg

upcoming release from VAI

16 posts in this topic

this from VAI:

Will be ready 8/31

VAI DVD 4507

SYMPHONY FANTASTIQUE

Ballet choreographed by Léonide Massine

Performed by the Royal Danish Ballet (1948)

(silent “work film” synchronized to Liszt’s piano transcription of score performed by William Hicks)

52 min., B&W, English subtitles, 4:3, mono, All regions

089948450795 $29.95 list

Share this post


Link to post

Presumably this (from NYPL catalogue):

Produced In Denmark, U.S.

Description 1 film reel (52 min., 1870 ft.) : sd., b&w ; 16 mm.

Note Originally filmed in 1948; sound version produced in 1980 by John Mueller and Neelon Crawford, University of Rochester, New York, from silent version in Dance Collection, *MGZHB 16-1000, no. 286-290. Music synchronized by Niels Bjørn Larsen, performed by William Hicks.

For complete casting and descriptive material about this film, see *MGTZ (Symphonie fantastique) 82-4205.

Performer Danced by the Royal Danish Ballet: Niels Bjørn Larsen (the young musician), Mona Vangsaae (the beloved), Kirsten Ralov and Erik Bruhn (scene 3 pas de deux), Stanley Williams (jailer), Toni Lander, Inge Sand, Fredbjørn Bjørnsson, and others.

Credits Sets, Pierre Roy.

Event Filmed during onstage rehearsal with sets, in practice clothes, in April 1948.

Summary Royal Danish Ballet production with revised choreography, presented under the title Episode af an Kunstners Liv.

Wow!

Share this post


Link to post

I've seen this, and it is a wonderful find on several grounds. First, the DVD is clearer than the film. Second, there are dancer identifications. (Erik Bruhn is about 20 here, and is absolutely gorgeous. You can tell he's a great dancer, even though he's still a boy, and even though he is not yet fully trained.)

And third, it's a beautiful work.

Another thing that sis interesting about it is that, in 1948, the RDB was just at the cusp of their international period. Children were still being trained by the Bournonville Schools (two classes only, danced the Schools every day). There had been some dabbling in mostly Russian, or faux-Russian, styles by some of the stars, and some of the young men (Bjornsson, Bruhn and Stanley Williams) had been dancing in London, right after the war, but mostly this was a really truly Danish company -- no real Russian influence. They also haven't had a great classical ballet director for 30 years (when Hans Beck retired; Lander was a character dancer) and it shows.

The dancers are mostly very small. There were men around 5 feet tall and women a bit shorter. But they all look alike -- they dance alike. It's really like watching a family. Yet there were at least two tall men -- I believe Frank Schaufuss is in that (6'3) and I know Henning Kronstam was in it (5'11, at 13). I can find Schaufuss, I think, because there's one very tall man in one section, but I cannot find Kronstam (and believe, me, I've looked!) He was mentioned in a review, in which the reviewer complained that the company was so hard up they had to use a boy from the school, and even though Kronstam had had a major, pantomime role in an opera ("Peter Grimes") they shouldn't be using children.

Larsen is interesting, in Massine's role. Mona Vangsaa, 8 years from being Ashton's Juliet, already shows she has "modern" lines.

A few months after the premiere, Lander had the sets painted over and used as a backdrop for an evening of Bournonville divertissements. He did not want the Russian influence to come there (yet he began preparing a very young Toni Lander to be as Russian as possible, changing "Etudes" from Danish to Russian, sylphs to swans). This action is believed by many to have precipitated the Lander Scandal (he was fired after a court trial for sexual harrassment, but many feel that the dancers really wanted to get him out of the company).

Anyway, lovely DVD, glad it's out :(

Share this post


Link to post

Alexandra, I hope it's okay to link to the Danish review, by Henry Helissen, of this 1948 production I found it in the online DanceView. It provides a detailed summary of the action, for those of us not familiar with the ballet.

http://www.danceview.org/commentary/massine.html

Does anyone know when the VAI dvd will be released, other than the 8/31 date? Amazon doesn't have an advance sale listing yet.

Share this post


Link to post

I don't have the date, unfortunately. I hope someone else will.

Thanks for linking to that, bart. I didn't remember I'd put it on line :) (The Danish dancer, Bjarne Hecht, translated the review for us. I found it fascinating the way the reviewer approached it -- not through movement, nor even the story, but through the music.)

Share this post


Link to post
I've seen this, and it is a wonderful find on several grounds. First, the DVD is clearer than the film. Second, there are dancer identifications. (Erik Bruhn is about 20 here, and is absolutely gorgeous. You can tell he's a great dancer, even though he's still a boy, and even though he is not yet fully trained.)

And third, it's a beautiful work.

Thank you for such an evocative description and also I enjoyed reading Henry Helissen's review.

It was also pleasing to hear that the company's dancers were short. So right for the Romantic ballets of the company.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks, Mme. Hermine. It's not what I expected -- or is this clip untypical of the ballet as a whole? I love the discombobulation in the movements. And that last bit -- a running climb up the backs of the corps ... to Golgotha? -- is stunning.

I will definitely be ordering this. In the meantime, I'm anxious to hear what others think.

Share this post


Link to post

Larsen was excellent in that clip---he really captured Massine's persona---you could easily fool me into believing it was Massine. Who is the fellow who did those fast pirouettes?

Share this post


Link to post

The very long and fascinating notes to this release are now available online - the sort of introduction we can usually only dream about.

(Pity they can't spell your name, Alexandra!)

Share this post


Link to post
Larsen was excellent in that clip---he really captured Massine's persona---you could easily fool me into believing it was Massine. Who is the fellow who did those fast pirouettes?

atm, I'm reasonably sure that is Stanley Williams, as he played the part of the jailer.

It is danced with such conviction, isn't it? Late in his career, Larsen was noted as a character dancer, so people forget he was a star dancer -- not a classical one, but a star dancing character dancer :) He created a 45-miniute solo in Harald Lander's "Qvaartsiluni" ("the Nordic 'Rite of Spring'").

Share this post


Link to post

The publicity for this DVD also includes the following:

Future projects in the Massine series include St. Francis with music by Hindemith and Seventh Symphony to the Beethoven score. Both ballets are danced by the original cast members of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo featuring Massine, Alicia Markova, Igor Youskevitch, Frederick Franklin and Mark Platoff"

(How on earth can they afford to do this, I wonder? How many copies will they sell? And if this is commercially viable, what a lot of other things might be!)

Share this post


Link to post
(How on earth can they afford to do this, I wonder? How many copies will they sell? And if this is commercially viable, what a lot of other things might be!)

These films might be in the public domain, and while they might need cleaning up and a soundtrack, I suspect no royalties are involved.

Share this post


Link to post