Jump to content


Swan Lake


  • Please log in to reply
41 replies to this topic

#31 rg

rg

    Emeralds Circle

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,397 posts

Posted 12 February 2010 - 08:12 AM

as a title that's very easy to misspeak.
i often find myself calling it CALCIUM NIGHT LIGHT - the actual title, from Ives's music, CALCIUM LIGHT NIGHT, comes, if mem. serves, from a Yale U. fraternity? ceremony where initiates carry burning calcium through some nighttime campus ritual and the substance glows white and casts a likely eerie light.

#32 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 12 February 2010 - 08:22 AM

Think of it as "Limelight Night". The Yalies would raid the theaters of New Haven and "borrow" the traveling spotlights therefrom, then take them out to the campus and shine the bright lights on the college buildings. Spotlights of that era produced their bright light by playing a gas jet against a block of calcium carbonate until it incandesced, hence "lime - light". It was a very hot, very noisy light source.

#33 papeetepatrick

papeetepatrick

    Sapphire Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts

Posted 12 February 2010 - 08:30 AM

Yes, that's right about Yale U., although I think 'Calcium Night Light' is funny. I did some research on Ives in 2002 when I finally played the Concord Sonata. Once I mastered the piece, I fully indulged in the way I truly feel about Ives: I hate the music, and I don't like anybody's ballets to it. That's what I jokingly called Peter's ballet 'Calcium Lite Nite', because I don't care for that either. I'm really astonished how any choreographers take him seriously (including Balanchine), given that there is so much more obviously danceably energetic work by Boulez, Stockhausen, and I'd still like to see Pithoprakta, to music of Xennakis. There's Balanchine's Pithoprakta at Suzanne Farrell Ballet here a couple of years ago. I had wanted to get to that. This is off-topic, sorry, I just have never understood the attraction of choreographers to that self-righteous, disapproving Puritan (not that it didn't take me decades to get over him either). I'm going to look up the paragraph I wrote up back in 2002, or what it was based on.

Okay, this fills one in on this first piece that put Peter on the map as a choreographer. I don't really dislike it, but I don't like it all that much either:

It is one of his Cartoons or Take-Offs and is scored for piccolo, clarinet, cornet, trombone, bass drum, and two pianos (four players). (This instrumentation can be expanded by using extra instruments suggested by Ives in a memo in the manuscript.) In 1912 or 1913 Ives grouped Calcium Light Night with five other pieces to make Set No. 1 for chamber ensemble. The piece pictures an event that occurs on the campus of Yale University that is well-described by W.E. Decrow in his book, Yale and the “City of Elms” (Wright and Potter Printing Co., Boston 1882, pp. 35–36):

“Delta Kappa Epsilon, .., like its rival, Psi Upsilon, chooses about forty members from each junior class and gives out its elections in precisely the way stated in the article describing Psi Upsilon hall...” “Psi Upsilon at Yale is a junior society, and about forty members of every junior class are elected to membership in the organization. Meetings are held on the Tuesday evenings in term time, and the elections are given out two or three weeks before Commencement. On that occasion the members form in line two deep, and, preceded by a calcium light borne on a wooden frame by four members of the society, march around to and visit various rooms, in each of which a certain number of men pledged to join the society are awaiting their coming. The procession files through the room, each member shaking hands with each candidate, and receiving, on marching out again, two or three fine cigars, presented by the newly-elected members. The other junior society, Delta Kappa Epsilon, is always out on the same mission, under precisely similar circumstances. Accident or design, or both, always cause the two processions to pass each other several times during the evening, and each, singing its own society song, attempts to the best of its ability to drown the voices of the other. It is always done with the utmost good nature, and both sides enjoy it heartily, as do the numerous spectators....”

The main themes of the piece are the society tunes "And again we sing thy praises, Psi U., Psi U.!" and "A band of brothers in D.K.E., we march along tonight." The tunes begin quietly and slowly and build to a raucuous climax as the two groups of students cross each others' paths, and then retreat back to the way they began in a sort of leap-frog retrogression.

I hope to offer my rave review of the current Swan Lake soon, although this is not certain.

#34 Krystin

Krystin

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 77 posts

Posted 12 February 2010 - 11:02 AM

Here is a review to back up Deborah's side of things. Apollinaire Scherr seems to like Martin's SL, even better than his Sleeping Beauty, which BTers seemed to enjoy very much.

http://www.ft.com/cm...144feab49a.html

#35 ViolinConcerto

ViolinConcerto

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,030 posts

Posted 12 February 2010 - 09:38 PM

That's really interesting about the origins of the name, "Calcium.. etc"

I actually like his music, but I am probably the only NYCB fan to wish for an "All Ives" evening ("Ivesiana," "Calcium," "Ives, Songs," "The Unanswered Question," [Feld] and even "DAnbury Mix," [Taylor].

Call me crazy.....

#36 DeborahB

DeborahB

    Bronze Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 252 posts

Posted 13 February 2010 - 03:30 AM

That's really interesting about the origins of the name, "Calcium.. etc"

I actually like his music, but I am probably the only NYCB fan to wish for an "All Ives" evening ("Ivesiana," "Calcium," "Ives, Songs," "The Unanswered Question," [Feld] and even "DAnbury Mix," [Taylor].

Call me crazy.....


I'm with you ViolinConcerto! I'm also Ives crazy. Still, I have a feeling that people would be fleeing out of the Koch after the second all Ives ballet music. We might have that big theatre all to our selves(after the first ballet)! We'd get great seats though (LOL).

#37 canbelto

canbelto

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,767 posts

Posted 13 February 2010 - 01:35 PM

I saw the Swan Lake originally when it aired on PBS. There really are no words to describe how ugly the production is. I do like the gloomy fourth act though.

#38 papeetepatrick

papeetepatrick

    Sapphire Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts

Posted 14 February 2010 - 05:09 PM

Plenty of ugliness in the costumes, but mainly sense of smallness and sterility. I didn't find the corps dancing bad at all, I've seen much worse at ABT. And the orchestra was in good form some of the time, with at least two big messes (not just French horn problems) and plenty of uninspired moments. I was expecting very little, so I can't say I was ever pleasantly surprised, except by occasional fine dancing that was maybe breathtaking for a minute or two courtesy of Ms. Reichlen.

Classic Ballet--the costumes in the first act were ridiculous enough, what you might call 'Tropical Danish' = Miami/Los Angeles colours with some drab Swedish Queen big dress thing, but if you'd stayed the Russian dance costumes were the most appalling: You have this shirtless dancer with a Roman Centurion-looking skirt or kilt, and boots that from a distance look like something one of the red-faced bagpipe players would wear in the St. Patrick's Day Parade (but they came across not as boots even, but rather shoes and socks like some old perv might have on--he looked quite fat, which was somewhat amusing. The girl has on this skimpy weird thing I couldn't fully make out, but reminded me of old LP's of Middle Eastern Exotic Dancers--it looked quite cheesay and even a bit obscene from a distance.

Even so, it could have had some electric moments if the principals could have delivered all the way. Mearns was always beautiful, and this it the third time I've seen her--I always think of her as sweet and lovable, is that correct? But I much preferred her as Lilac Fairy and Dewdrop, because although her Odette was lovable, so was her Odile. My companion didn't agree with me on this, but I just can't see Mearns as knowing much about meanness and viciousness, which is why she was so convincing a Lilac Fairy. You are not so supposed to love Odile except for the wrong, false and evil reasons--and I couldn't see Mearns knowing how to be the sleek, sophisticated Party Girl that Odile is (and that that opening music announces. But she was hardly the problem. And that was Jared Angle, who one might say 'has no Prince to speak of' in terms of presence. He's said to be a fine partner, but that's not enough. A 'cautious prince' is just not a prince. He has to be swashbuckling at least at moments, and he always kept reminding me of some of the currently fashionable 'flaccid male fiction writers' and their novels, such as Peter Handke's new rendering of Don Giovanni--a contradiction in terms. His grand pirouettes (I think that's what they're called) after Odile's fouettes, were very good and solid, though, and that was the only time I thought he came to life. In conversation later, I was remembering Nureyev and Peter Schaufuss as Siegfried, and Jared Angle just didn't even seem to be dancing the same part (no matter what Martins has done to change the Prince, and indeed that is generally thought to be inferior). I think with a partner with some passion, Mearns would have been, at least as Odette, electrifying at times, and she was even a pleasure to watch as it was. But it was frankly hard to see how he was a Principal Dancer, at least from this role. I can see him as nice in 'Emeralds', maybe. He just has no fire, just sort of seems to be there, having wandered onstage somehow, seeming a bit lost amid all that royal mess.

The one truly mesmerizing moment was Tess Reichlen in the pas de quatre.

So that, although I don't know if I think this is that much worse (but not much better) than R + J, at least Sterling Hyltin had a really sparkling partner in Robert Fairchild, and I think Mearns would maybe have been exciting as Odette with someone less dainty and careful all the time, although I stll can't see her as Odile. My friend liked her Odile though.

I guess I might put it as Prince Siegfried might be enough as a consort, but not just as an escort. And he never had any presence with his buddies either--they all had more flexibility and energy even while being clad in these absurd colours--I couldn't stand the weird muted green of the Pas de Quatre either, but Reichlen proved that the costumes really aren't that important if you've got that kind of talent that she does. I was told that Daniel Ullbricht as the Jester (in another hideous costume, which reminded me of the morbid costumes Bob Fosse used in 'All that Jazz') is not so musical, but for this part, he had some technique.

So, for me, not so much the extreme ugliness that many have described, but rather a tedium and flatness for the most part. Still, a move virile Siegfried could have done a lot to relieve that.

#39 perky

perky

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 652 posts

Posted 15 February 2010 - 06:51 AM

I think the designer was aiming for a sort of untamed Tartar look for the Russian couple. Out of all the hideous costumes in this visually ugly production I think the Russian dancer costumes are the best of the worst. I rather like the cheekiness of them.

#40 nysusan

nysusan

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 983 posts

Posted 15 February 2010 - 06:55 AM

I went to the Sunday matinee with Mearns, Angle & Ulbricht. This was my first (and only) performance this season, and while I remembered that I hated the first act, I forgot just how much I hated it. It is heinous. The combination of abstract "scenery', horribly ugly costumes in ridiculous colors and the abomination that Martins created out of Petipa's glorious choreography is just unwatchable.

I thought the costumes -- particulary the tutus -- were lovely. At the chat tonight, with Sara Mearns, Jared Angle and Marc Happel (Director of Costumes), they not only showed some of the costumes, but talked about them. The tutus, in particular, are stunning (they almost look like they have been needlepointed).


Deb, I agree that the Swan Queen's tutus are beautiful but I wasn't crazy about the Swan Corps costumes and I thought all the rest were absolutely atrocious. They each were not only ugly on their own they clashed terribly with each other and it seemed as though they consciously undermined any sense of time, place or story - and without the story there is no Swan Lake. Even Balanchine's work suffers if the visual elements are offputing and the steps are danced perfectly but vacantly or with the wrong accents, phrasing musicality etc.

I thought I remembered (from past performances) that I loved both lakeside scenes in this production but I didn't feel that way this time. Despite the glory of Mearns' dancing I disliked the first lakeside scene intensely, and I didn't like Mearns interpretation as much as I did in her debut performances. She was beautiful and dramatic but there were just too many jarring touches and embellishments.

As much as I like Bouder (and she was the only reason I went), it was a huge disappointment as well. A hysterical Odette, running from one corner of the stage to the other one, dancing at such speed that I could literally not believe my eyes.
...
The orchestra matched perfectly with the whole show, who knows what they were playing.
...
I could not stop thinking about the young people and the inexperienced audience (almost sold out house), is this the way they are going to be educated about such a legendary ballet ?
if there is a baBalanchinerust to make sure that Mr B's ballet are properly performed around the world, there should be a Petipa trust or similar to avoid aundiences such a pain !


Classic Ballet, I know that you were talking about the Bouder cast, but I agree with you 100%. One of the things I remember clearly from the last run of SL was that I found their orchestration of the music absolutely thrilling. But that was when Andrea Quin was musical director. Last night the music for the first lakeside scene was played at breakneck speed and despite her beautiful dancing Mearns did look like a hysterical Swan Queen on speed during her first meeting with Siegfried.

Classic Ballet--oh lord, I haven't seen it yet, but I think I know why someone once told me 'it has to be seen to be believed', if your (hilarious, if unfortunate) report is accurate (I have no reason to doubt it).


As far as I recall, I saw one performance by a very small company, like small town performance, not too serious, that prob came close to this.
if you want to experience something pretty unique, i encourage you to go, u wont ever forget it.


Again, I know exactly what you mean. Despite the fact that I know these are all glorious dancers (down to the last member of the corps) to me they looked awkward and amaturish much of the time. That was due to Martins' ridiculous rendition of the Petipa/Ivanov choreography and the speed at which it was danced. This is Petipa/Ivanov for goodness sake, not Balanchine. If Martins wanted to do a modern neoclassical take he should have completely rechoreographed the ballet from scratch with his own original steps. That's not what he did, he kept most of the original (except for the corps in the lakeside scenes) but tweaked it and coached it in a neo classical style. To anyone who is used to seeing the classics danced by the great classical companies of the world (Royal, Kirov, Bolshoi and even ABT) these dancers looked awkward and amaturish in this choreography. I am thinking particularly of the first act pas de trois and the "little swans" dance in the first lakeside scene but really, I can think of very few exceptions.

The only part of this production that I liked was the last lakeside scene, and I think that may be because Martins DID jettison most of the original choreography and came up with new (or after Balanchine) choreography. It was not Peitpa/Ivanov, it was very different in feel and concept but I thought it worked wonderfully with the music and was an extremely moving ending.

#41 DeborahB

DeborahB

    Bronze Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 252 posts

Posted 15 February 2010 - 11:45 AM

I'm sure looking forward to getting away from story ballets for the last two weeks of the season. And at least we know what we're getting:
Balanchine and Robbins. Seems like old times...

#42 nysusan

nysusan

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 983 posts

Posted 15 February 2010 - 01:07 PM

I'm sure looking forward to getting away from story ballets for the last two weeks of the season. And at least we know what we're getting:
Balanchine and Robbins. Seems like old times...


Me too! Can't wait, especially for TP2 and Jewels!


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):