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Fred Wiseman's New Documentary of The Paris Opera BalletWill Be Available on DVD


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#166 papeetepatrick

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Posted 18 June 2010 - 06:49 PM

A lot of the dance excerpts didn't do much to compensate, especially the Buckets O' Blood Medea.


I thought this was excellent, brutal but went all the way--the buckets on the kids heads stupendously imaginative. I think that's a hallmark of POB--even though they do rather tedious things like 'Caligula'--to go all the way, they're so thorough yet noble, and that's one of the reasons why they're my favourite company. I'm praying they'll do that 'Wuthering Heights' here--the clip they used to have on the site was sublime. I also liked that pdd, is that the modern R & J? but with effective marriage of choreography and music at certain points--it's been a few months, Aurelie is in that one--there's one startling opened-up moment, almost orgasmic, when the music literally seems to deliver the dancer or vice-versa, it may have been on a big brass note, trombone or tuba.

#167 Sellen

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 08:02 PM

Found this waiting for me in the TiVo this weekend, seems like ballet hasn't been on Great Performances much in the past few years, I have an auto-record for anything with ballet in the description... this basically results is a couple bad TV movies and children programing :( Anyway! I was taken by the intimacy this approach gave, unfortunately my mind did wander during the extended modern/contemporary type performances that I just don't "get". A view on the administrative side was very interesting, from what we saw it seems to be run quite well indeed! Watching the choreographic process is always engaging and sometimes can provide at least some insight as to what all I'm supposed to be understanding that invariably I would miss otherwise.
I watched it all again after reading this thread so I could keep track a little better who was rehearsing what, things that ended up in performance.. I think there is great value in taking it all in without tracking everything - as an experience, but I needed another viewing to really make the connection of the evolution of rehearsal to performance (on my little TV and not being familiar with POB dancers, everyone looks about the same to me) and let's face it, I wanted to see again some selections of quite exquisite technique. :)

The Medea piece when it got to the part to the children I found quite shocking and moving, but as it slowly moved on, the moment was lost to me. I enjoyed the selections from Paquita, appreciated the lovely corps work which I often miss when trying to divide my attention.

And thank you Paul for pointing out Ms. Thesmar's La Sylphide, I have that tape and something always struck me about it. A light and supple quality to the petit allegro, the style and execution hit my sweet spot for sure. :crying:

#168 Amy Reusch

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 09:59 AM

Also noticed in the long sequence from Medea?--(I assume so because of the blood and children etc.), the camera stayed in a medium-shot/CU throughout most of it, rather than the usual FS or wider shots used previously in other dance segments.



I'm interested in your analysis... did this seem shot to encourage the moment to be uncomfortable?

#169 sandik

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 02:37 PM

btw, the only case where I've seen a secondary audio track with running commentary has been John Neumeier's ILLUSIONS OF SWAN LAKE. Are there any others?

-goro-


In one of the recent box sets of Astaire/Rogers films, critic John Mueller narrates several of the dance numbers, discussing the structure of the choreography and relating it to other works (I'm sorry but I cannot remember which film this is, and I've lent my copy out to a friend)

#170 4mrdncr

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 09:04 PM

Also noticed in the long sequence from Medea?--(I assume so because of the blood and children etc.), the camera stayed in a medium-shot/CU throughout most of it, rather than the usual FS or wider shots used previously in other dance segments.



I'm interested in your analysis... did this seem shot to encourage the moment to be uncomfortable?



Working from memory now, but I don't know if it was uncomfortable to me because I wanted to see a FS (so I could see the dancer/choreography) or because I understood what was going to happen plotwise, and was internally wincing. The use of a CU, of course, was probably to pull us into the scene to better see the acting and action--ie. to make it more 'visceral' and subjective, than distant/removed and objective. I also noted it was mostly shot on diagonal. (I did think the buckets were a very interesting prop effect to indicate a disembodied death--kind of like the back scrim descending in C. Wheeldon's VIII to indicate Anne Boleyn's fate.) On the second late-night viewing, I immediately recognized and better understood the 'choreography' of that scene when viewing the previous solo rehearsal.

#171 volcanohunter

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 10:03 PM

If anyone is flying via Air Canada in the near future, the film is available on the airline's entertainment system. It's located in the 'Franco-Cinema' folder in the movie section. I just watched it again returning home from New York.

#172 dirac

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 10:52 AM

" The contempory works in addition to Medea which was rather extensively used were Genue
and another which I am not sure of it' title, it involved women in long black dresses and an oblong table. A lot of thumping and shouting by a male lead and the women. You may reconise it, but sorry I did not."

Thank you for this. I also enjoyed the film enormously. As for the work you weren't able to identify, I believe it was Mats Ek's House of Bernarda Alba. I have to add that I found it a pity that Wiseman felt he didn't need to provide captions identifying the main dancers and choreographers. Of course he wouldn't have been able to identify everyone, but maybe the main dancers could have been identified the first time that they appeared? He said that he did not do this as he felt that people who knew the company wouldn't need the captions and that the rest of his audiences wouldn't need to identify the dancers. To be fair, he also said that he felt that captions would spoil the aesthetic effect of the film but I do wish he had found some way of getting around this problem as, for many of us, it would have added to the interest of an already fascinating film.

ps I hope you don't mind if I point out a typo. The McGregor work was Genus.


I agree with you, Bella 12, that it would have been most helpful if many of the people and the works shown had been identified with captions, if only once. It's true that people who know the company well don't need them but I think Wiseman is mistaken to say that the rest of his audience - a substantial portion, one would imagine - wouldn't need or appreciate the help. The occasional caption would be no more detrimental to the aesthetic effect of the movie than subtitles. (And a few transitional titles might have been advantageously substituted for repetitive shots of hallways, postcard views of the building and the city, etc.)

#173 Jack Reed

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 02:42 PM

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing!" ...or watched the whole thing, but I did. Not because I wasn't bored, because I was earlier, but because it seemed to get less boring later; we seemed to see more dance, finally, although rarely any from the front, where it's directed toward. Usually find diagonal and side shots and shots from rear less involving. Like it better when it hits me right between the eyes, instead of going "over there" somewhere. (Dancers may not see dance this way so much. I wonder. But this film is not for dancers, specifically...)

While I was glad for the evidence of deep seriousness and involvement of the whole institution, I rarely felt about the backstage stuff that I was getting something I didn't already know. Of course, some one new to ballet would, and ought to be impressed, and moved, even.

Some interesting remarks were dropped along the way, like the students' not showing up for modern classes as much as for academic? And LaCotte's crack about Farrell's flaws becoming everyone's virtues or something to me meant either that he was way behind -- during her first tenure with NYCB Balanchine was supposed to have tried to get everybody to dance like her -- or that LaCotte's another of the school of thought that believes Balanchine didn't know how his ballets should be danced, because everything should be danced one way, in LaCotte's case, their way, POB's way. (Would anyone like to shoot this down? Do they take care to shift gears and adapt to different ways appropriate to different periods, say? I'm not thinking of the contemporary material outside what I'm taking to be the academic vocabulary. I don't know POB.)

I too was disappointed that we got so much contemporary material; is that really what POB mostly does in the theater these years? Don't know POB. (I meant, I thought I shared some the preferences of the young students there, not necessarily the posters here. Young idealists? Wanting classic purity? Does that mean I should grow up? I'm already 72, I don't have time left...)

What was more classical was mostly Nutcracker, maybe because it was that time of year. Didn't think it was musically perceptive, compared to my perennial fave (a certain B.); interested to see on a theater poster it was Nureyev's. Better than Joffrey's though, must say, more musically perceptive. But liked the dancing of it. If there were any instant when I was not impressed and taken with the clarity and precision and fullness of the dancers' movement, I don't remember it.

Well, more initial impressions than I thought I would post, based on watching the PBS broadcast three days ago. I will try a second look. Thanks to bart for mentioning the posts here I can use as a guide, and of course thanks in advance to those posters especially.

#174 bart

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 07:22 PM

There's a long and interesting review by Daniel Jacobson in the latest issue of Ballet Review, which just arrived in my mailbox. (Spring 2010).

Like the rest of us, Jacobson has his favorites. They include the "Paquita" excerpts, which all of us seem to have loved.

For those splendid moments alone, it is worth sitting through the nearly three hours of this often fascinating, but sometimes maddening and stultifying film.

I just finished my second viewing. I've revised a couple of my earlier impressions. I like the Sasha Waltz "Romeo and Juliet" balcony pas de deux a good deal less than before. Dupont, wearing an unflattering house dress, seems poorly cast. There is little romantic or, indeed, human connection between her and Herve Moreau. For me at least, they are never more than dancers doing the paltry and random steps the choreographer has given them to do.

On the other hand, I am now in a minority in finding that the clips from McGregor's "Genus" make me wish for a chance to look closely at the entire work. The pdd between Letestu and Ganio was only so-so. But Ganio's and Gilot's solos had a very real energy and visual power.

(Why is it that so much contemporary choreography works better with isolated individuals -- solitary planets moving in space -- than with couples or groups?)

Based on the performance of Delphine Moussin, I think I would also like to see the entire "Songe de Medee." I should mention that Jacobson hated this:

For me at least, the ballet is what W.H. Auden would have called a "hideola," a brutal expressionist nightmare relying heavilly on shocking and angsty images to make a vivide effect ...

I can understand why Jacobson feels this way. But I have no problem with well executed expressionism. The character of Medea seem to demand it.

Moussin's performance -- a strange, intense, and seductive pdd with Jason (Wilfred Romoli); and the "buckets-of-blood" scene in which she kills her children and then must react to the immendisty of what she has done -- is deeply moving, almost hynotically so.

It is also one of the few instances in the film in which we get to see just how amazing a dancer's transformation can be between coaching session and stage performance.

#175 Amour

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Posted 04 July 2010 - 02:53 PM

I watched it all again after reading this thread so I could keep track a little better who was rehearsing what, things that ended up in performance.. I think there is great value in taking it all in without tracking everything - as an experience, but I needed another viewing to really make the connection of the evolution of rehearsal to performance (on my little TV and not being familiar with POB dancers, everyone looks about the same to me) and let's face it, I wanted to see again some selections of quite exquisite technique. :)

For those people who want to own "La Danse" it will be available on DVD starting July 12th,2010 from Wiseman's website, zipporah.com. Later in July, the website states that a blue ray option will be available. Zipporah.com is the only place to buy Wiseman documentaries, since he doesn't make them available through commercial sites like Amazon.com. While checking out "La Danse" , balletomanes might also look for "Ballet", the documentary on ABT that was filmed around 1990-19991. To my mind, this is an even better documentary than "La Danse" and contains the only filmed version of Ferri and Bocca dancing Macmillan's Romeo and Juliet bedroom scene.

#176 Helene

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Posted 04 July 2010 - 03:33 PM

Many thanks for the heads up.

The website isn't the most intuitive one ever, but the Yahoo checkout process is even worse and a graphical mess. Here are some tips to order:

1. From this page, click the film title. It's alphabetized under "La" in left-to-right order (not in column order).

http://www.zipporah.com/films

2. In the box on the right hand side, click the price link for whatever category you're in (Educational, High School and Volunteer, Individual) to add to the Yahoo shopping cart. You can change quantity here.

3. If you use PayPal,
  • You'll be navigated to the PayPal site, where shipping and handling will be added. It's $6.95 for one DVD to the US. I'm not sure about higher quantities.
  • After you purchase on PayPal, you'll be navigated back to the site. Be sure to fill in the telephone number and accept the "Terms & Conditions" before you continue. The T&C's give them 30 days to ship the DVD, although for pre-orders, that is probably 30 days after 12 July to comply with FTC guidelines.


#177 volcanohunter

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 10:50 AM

[size="2"][size="3"]I bought the British edition of the DVD. It's a region 2 PAL disc, so if you don't live in Europe, you need an all-region player. But it sells on British Amazon for £12, so I couldn't resist the price. (I have to admit to ordering several other items to make the shipping costs worth my while.) There are no extras on the DVD other than the trailer, and the subtitles are embedded.

Each time I watch the film, I keep thinking of the discussion about casting between Emanuel Gat and Brigitte Lefèvre in which she seems to imply that he shouldn't expect to get any étoiles for his piece. This is very interesting considering that Wayne McGregor got Marie-Agnès Gillot, Benjamin Pech, Agnès Letestu, Mathieu Ganio, Mathias Heymann, Jérémie Bélingard and Dorothée Gilbert for Genus. She also made a comment about the pointlessness of driving race cars at 6 m.p.h. Fast forward to Aurélie Dupont and Hervé Moreau in Sasha Waltz's piece.

I also found McGregor's practice of anglicizing his dancers' names quite amusing, particularly in the sequence where he rehearses Ganio and Heymann, both of whom he calls "Matt," which you'd think would make his instructions somewhat difficult to follow.

It was interesting to watch Pierre Lacotte drag Letestu over the coals, not that his criticisms weren't justified, particularly his observation about her spoon-like hands. But it was curious that his request that she gradually lower her raised leg in a supported turn was not heeded by Dorothée Gilbert once Paquita got to the stage. Did she not get any coaching from him?

It was also interesting to watch Laurent Hilaire coaching Sarah Kora Dayanova and asking for "more generous" couronnes, because what I really wanted was for someone to ask the same of Aurélie Dupont. (Honestly, her ports de bras are my greatest object to her dancing.)

I love the film up until about 20 minutes from the end. Once Wiseman shows an extended excerpt from Mats Ek's La casa de Bernarda Alba, he loses me, because I find myself thinking: all that talent, all that work, all those resources for this? After that I find myself deflated as a viewer, and things that would have fascinated me earlier, like the janitor cleaning up the opera house after a performance, no longer speak to me, and the sequence of Yann Bridard rehearsing the Pina Bausch piece just seems like too much of the same, choreographically speaking.

It's unfortunate that Wiseman chose to document that particular season. Back then we commented on the repertoire, too.[/size]

http://ballettalk.in...ason-2007-2008/ [/size]

#178 Helene

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 02:06 PM

I interpreted Lefevre's comments to Gat to mean, if you request an etoile, and I deign to give one to you, you better come up with choreography fit for a Ferrari. He was so cowed by her, I think he would have cast the cafeteria staff if she had insisted.

Many thanks for your comments! I keep watching "Dancing Bournonville" over and over, and falling in love with Hans Brenaa more each time, and ignoring "La Danse" on my shelf, and I need to see it again.

#179 volcanohunter

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 02:43 PM

He was so cowed by her, I think he would have cast the cafeteria staff if she had insisted.

Speaking of which, the menu at the Garnier cafeteria looks terrific. I'm so envious.

#180 silvermash

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Posted 14 August 2010 - 02:38 AM

I interpreted Lefevre's comments to Gat to mean, if you request an etoile, and I deign to give one to you, you better come up with choreography fit for a Ferrari. He was so cowed by her, I think he would have cast the cafeteria staff if she had insisted.


I think he looked a litle bit puzzled how to work in a big company like POB. I found Brigitte Lefevre quite open, just trying to give him a hint on how to manage the dancers, a each level of the hierachy... By the way, when she proposed to name few dancers, he didn't jump on that so he's probably not so flexible...
One thing puzzling me is, I don't really know when the filming was made but, she hesitates quite a few times to say "danseurs" and finally always uses "danseuses" and only once she introduced "and danseurs" .
But Hark! was presented as to conterbalance the fact that the other ballet on the same bill was Angelin Preljocaj MC14/22 which is a piece for 12 male dancers... And in fact, it ended Hark! was for 13 female dancers... So I wonder how the story was made, I mean at which stage...


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