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Patti Lupone- Seven Deadly Sins at NYCB

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The NY Times is reporting that singer Patti Lupone will appear with NYCB in the Spring of 2011 in a new production of "The Seven Deadly Sins", a "sung ballet in 7 scenes." The production will be choreographed by Lynne Taylor-Corbet.

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I assume there is no way to revive the Balanchine? What a shame--I remember NYCB was supposed to revive it one year with Bette Midler and it fell through...(I believe Balanchine was still alive at that time.) Oh well...It's still an intriguing idea, likely good box office, and yet definitely remains within the company's larger tradition.

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Patti Lupone will definitely create a lot of media attention for the project, and her name will sell A LOT of seats. I ,too, was surprised that they are not reviving the Balanchine version.

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There really wasn't much dancing in the Balanchine version, as I recall. Its effectiveness had to do with Kurt Weill's music, the staging and decor and the unforgettable (to me) performances of Lotte Lenya and Allegra Kent.

When San Francisco Ballet revived it a few years later, the choreography was by Lew Christensen. So, turning the project over to a new choreographer, in this case Taylor-Corbet, is not without precedent.

Maybe every generation needs to invent its own way of presenting this score and story. An evening devoted to the exploration of Pride, Anger, Avarice, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, and Sloth will always have relevance. :)

LuPone sounds like a great choice for Lenya's role. I can see her prowling the stage like a panther. (Lenya did more in the way of insinuating herself here and there.) Who should dance Allegra Kent's role? You need someone who can make "child-like" and "innocent" really interesting, especially as she keeps bouncing around from one bad experience to another. As for the other roles: is there anyone at the NYCB today particularly good at conveying menace and/or decadence?

Questions: Was Balanchine's version ever revived? Does anyone know whether a video record of it survives?

Here's John Martin's 1958 review in the NY Times:

http://select.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?...783D85F4D8585F9

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LuPone sounds like a great choice for Lenya's role. I can see her prowling the stage like a panther. (Lenya did more in the way of insinuating herself here and there.)

Yes, and she will surely be more effective than Bette Midler could have ever been. It's a far more powerful vocal instrument, as the TV 'Gypsy' (with Midler, who didn't sing those kinds of songs well IMO) and the recent 2007-2009 B'way revival of 'Gypsy' with Lupone prove.

As for abatt's "ceating a lot of media attention for the project', I guess so, but I was surprised '

'Gypsy' didn't run a full year on B'way, even given the panics of 2008-9. She's powerful, but not 'Streisand-powerful'. It could be really good, though.l

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I assume there is no way to revive the Balanchine? What a shame--I remember NYCB was supposed to revive it one year with Bette Midler and it fell through...(I believe Balanchine was still alive at that time.) Oh well...It's still an intriguing idea, likely good box office, and yet definitely remains within the company's larger tradition.

It is a shame. Balanchine's genius didn't lie only in steps, and his staging would have been interesting to see. As you say he did want to revive it with Midler and von Aroldingen, so he must have thought well of it himself (or had new ideas for it). No harm in a new production with new choreography, though.

She's powerful, but not 'Streisand-powerful'.

I agree. I don't think anyone who doesn't follow the theater knows much about LuPone. But it's a New York production, so her presence will have local interest.

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I had heard about Midler before but didn't know about Aroldingen Since Aroldingen was a dancer about as far from Kent in look, personality, and movement style as you can get, I wonder what Balanchine was thinking. Perhaps Aroldingen as Anna I and Midler as Anna II? :)

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I had heard about Midler before but didn't know about Aroldingen Since Aroldingen was a dancer about as far from Kent in look, personality, and movement style as you can get, I wonder what Balanchine was thinking. Perhaps Aroldingen as Anna I and Midler as Anna II? :)

Balanchine saw things in Von Aroldingen that most people didn't, so who knows? I do seem to recall reading an interview with her where Balanchine told her she was one of the only one of his dancers who could act. But I agree it would have been a far different look than when Kent was dancing it.

I would have preferred to have a revival of Balanchine's though. I would much rather have an imperfectly remembered Balanchine than a new version by a different choreographer. Having said that I wish Taylor-Corbet the best and hope she has a success with it.

I'm thinking of two very different dancers for Anna 2. Janie Taylor and Tiler Peck.

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Who should dance Allegra Kent's role? You need someone who can make "child-like" and "innocent" really interesting, especially as she keeps bouncing around from one bad experience to another.
I can go with perky's suggestions and add Kathryn Morgan.
As for the other roles: is there anyone at the NYCB today particularly good at conveying menace and/or decadence?
Sara Mearns can convey anything and everything. I think Ashley Bouder would have a field day with it. :)

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Balanchine saw things in Von Aroldingen that most people didn't, so who knows? I do seem to recall reading an interview with her where Balanchine told her she was one of the only one of his dancers who could act.

That's very interesting and explains a lot. Because even in just the video of 'Davidsbundlertanze', she is the most deeply affecting in that sense. Kind of Brahmsian-warm maybe? But also, I liked her Siren a lot, and her 'Ballet Imperial' was full of lilt-- a consummate professional, she displayed this lilt in the performance the night Balanchine died. May have to do with having such a great face though, too, which she could use to good advantage without ever going into the cheap effects people complain about with so many grinning dancers these days. But I've also never thought of Suzanne Farrell as having a great acting gift, although a lot of emotion did get unleashed sometimes, as in 'La Valse', but it's still more because of the power of the movement, or that's my impression.

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For innocent and childlike I would wonder about Kathryn Morgan as well...

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Balanchine STRONGLY discouraged his dancers from 'acting', as is extremely well known, and anyone who has seen Farrell in full-lengths outside NYCB has seen that her 'acting' ability was quite formidable. I find Mearns nowhere near even the video footage of Kent in any role in terms of conveying anything and everything; she has a certain opaqueness which is the opposite of Kent's incredible transparency, and although she is a good dancer I am completely nonplussed at the showers of hosannas rained on her of late--to my mind Reichlen, for example, is so vastly superior in every respect that there is no comparison. Fortunately, no one will have to live up to Kent (an impossible task), as this will not be the Balanchine choreography--a great pity. I cannot imagine a choreographer as facile and shallow as Taylor-Corbett being up to the esthetic demands of a dark, mordant, somber period piece like The Seven Deadly Sins.

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Balanchine STRONGLY discouraged his dancers from 'acting', as is extremely well known, and anyone who has seen Farrell in full-lengths outside NYCB has seen that her 'acting' ability was quite formidable.

The only thing I have seen Farrell do outside NYCB was 'Nijinsky, Clown de Dieu', but I doubt that's what you mean. I do remember her entrance as being especially striking, but I don't know whether she was quite yet fully dancing, or whether you might just call that presence, which was indeed very commanding, 'acting'. As for the rest of that piece, I still saw great dancing, if there was 'formidable acting', you can explain it to me, I never noticed her being especially theatrical in it; it was more like a hallucinatiion of limbs all over the place, but that's dance. So tell me what you mean. I think the face plays a more important part in acting than Farrell tended to use. In fact, I thought that was what the power was very often: That the face seemed quiet and in repose most of the time, which is lovely, but the rest of the range of expression has to be covered too, and I thought she was especially singular in the way that the rest of the body conveyed the more tumultuous things. Melissa Hayden, in the only performance I ever saw her in, in 'Balanchine's Swan Lake', seemed much more theatrical and something of an actress as well as great dancer. But from 'Nijinsky' alone, I saw 'formidable dancing', but not 'formidable acting'. Maybe you're talking about what she did with NBoC, wasn't there a 'Swan Lake'? I think people have talked about it here.

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I do seem to recall reading an interview with her where Balanchine told her she was one of the only one of his dancers who could act.

I think that Karin von Aroldingen in her interview in "I Remember Balanchine" (along with "Balanchine's Tchaikovsky," very essential reading) says Balanchine called her "the actress," which is different than acting -- more a potential and a characteristic. ... And, at least in clips, Lenya doesn't act, she seems to simply possess the stage.

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I think that "Balanchine didn't like acting" is one of those blanket statements that does need qualifying. I interviewed Judith Fugate, who said Balanchine's nickname for her was Sarah Berhnhardt (because he knew her first as Clara in the Nutcracker back when Marie was Clara). She remembered several times when he singled her out for her abilities, and told a wonderful story of him carefully demonstrating the way the girl in Coppelia found the key--Fugate was the original--stressing that this part was for "Judy the actress". A number of people have described how careful he was to maintain the Prince's mime in the Nutcracker, which is all acting. Possibly he just didn't like bad acting. Mary

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she has a certain opaqueness which is the opposite of Kent's incredible transparency, and although she is a good dancer I am completely nonplussed at the showers of hosannas rained on her of late--to my mind Reichlen, for example, is so vastly superior in every respect that there is no comparison.

I completely agree, jsmu. I am one of the seeming few who still doesn't get what all the Mearns hoopla is about, and I think Reichlen is one of City Ballet's best (and most underrated). I would love to see Reichlen do Diamonds.

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Balanchine STRONGLY discouraged his dancers from 'acting', as is extremely well known,

I agree entirely with Cargill's response to this. 7 Deadly Sins is an example of the sub-genre of Balanchine theater pieces. Anna II was NOT a dance role in any conventional sense. The character must act, though using mimetic and dance movement. More, she must be able to hold the spotlight even when a vast amount of interesting (or distracting, depending on your point of view) stuff is going on around her.

Fortunately, no one will have to live up to Kent (an impossible task), as this will not be the Balanchine choreography--a great pity. I cannot imagine a choreographer as facile and shallow as Taylor-Corbett being up to the esthetic demands of a dark, mordant, somber period piece like The Seven Deadly Sins.
Once again, it's necessary to stress that that the Anna II of Balanchine's 7 Deadly Sins was NOT a dancer role, much less a "Balanchine dancer" role. Kent was brilliant because of her personality and certain qualities of movement that had little to do with neoclassical ballet.

Many BT members have access to Nancy Reynolds' Repertory in Review. On pp. 193-94 there are 3 photos of Kent in various aspects of the Anna II role. They do capture the qualities she brought to this role, and why she was mesmerizing in it.

About the work itself -- The orgins of 7 Deadly Sins put it in the tradition of gesamtkunstwerk. Balanchine's version did, of course, contain elements that were "dark, mordant" and "period." (I object to "somber.") There were many examples of comedy (absurdist as well as black), social satire, anger, acerbic commentary (mainly from Anna I), etc. "Somber" this piece was not.

On top of that, there is a clear moral point of view, and one has its own universality. In almost any period of human history you can find examples of the terrible things that a heartless, amoral, dishonest, and occasionally sanctimonious society does to ordinary people. All of this is very clear from the music and the libretto (the latter very accessible to the audience in the Kallman/Audan translation) as well as in Balanchine's staging. For this new revival, we don't need a faithful reconstruction a la The Green Table (wonderful though that is). We DO need an artistic team with total commitment to the idea that the work still has relevance in our own day. I hope the creators of the 2011 version will make changes in period and setting, while preserving of course the artistic and moral heart of the work.

I see no reason why Ms. Taylor-Corbet shouldn't do a wonderful job. She might even wish to make Anna II more of a dance role, and why not? (On the other hand, we might want to look warily in the direction of Peter Martins, what with his variable and sometimes questionable taste when it comes to reimagining works of art. )

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I think the quality that Allegra had in this ballet was very unique to her. A sort of knowing, sexy kittenish quality. Not a rank innocent by any means but not overtly aware either. I've never seen the ballet, just basing my opinion on various sources such as Repertory In Review and Kent's own autobiography.

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I think the quality that Allegra had in this ballet was very unique to her. A sort of knowing, sexy kittenish quality. Not a rank innocent by any means but not overtly aware either.
That's perfect, perky. Thanks for amending my earlier characterization. My memories are partial, but contain a lot of details filtered through the astonished mind of a teenager. :D The sexiness was there and it was NOT the standard 50s version of sexiness available to me in my suburban high school.

Perhaps "knowing-and-not-knowing" would be an even better description. :wub:

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I think the quality that Allegra had in this ballet was very unique to her. A sort of knowing, sexy kittenish quality. Not a rank innocent by any means but not overtly aware either.
That's perfect, perky. Thanks for amending my earlier characterization. My memories are partial, but contain a lot of details filtered through the astonished mind of a teenager. :( The sexiness was there and it was NOT the standard 50s version of sexiness available to me in my suburban high school.

Perhaps "knowing-and-not-knowing" would be an even better description. :wub:

If she made you so gaga as a teenager imagine how Kent made Mr. B. feel? :wink::wub:

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The concept of seven deadly sins as a ballet sounds interesting -- especially how gluttony will be portrayed. I looked on the Lincoln Center website, and did not see this performance on the NYC Ballet calendar. Can somebody help me figure out when individual tickets to the seven deadly sins performance would become available, and why the performance does not seem to be on the spring NYC Ballet calendar?

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The concept of seven deadly sins as a ballet sounds interesting -- especially how gluttony will be portrayed. I looked on the Lincoln Center website, and did not see this performance on the NYC Ballet calendar. Can somebody help me figure out when individual tickets to the seven deadly sins performance would become available, and why the performance does not seem to be on the spring NYC Ballet calendar?

The performances are planned for the Spring 2011 season.

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Went to the NYCB box office today and was kinda shocked that they are charging more for The Seven Deadly Sins... $10 additional per ticket. :-( Also- the gentleman at the box office said that it was selling very well and was sure to sell out.

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Went to the NYCB box office today and was kinda shocked that they are charging more for The Seven Deadly Sins... $10 additional per ticket. :-( Also- the gentleman at the box office said that it was selling very well and was sure to sell out.

Wait till you see what they will charge in the fall for Sir Paul and Peter's collaboration.

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