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MCB films PBS Great Performances specialCorps member blogs about the experience


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#1 iwatchthecorps

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 03:31 PM

As MCB goes through the process of filming the upcoming Great Performances for PBS, Corps member, Rebecca King, is blogging about the experience. Check it out at tenduesunderapalmtree

#2 4mrdncr

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Posted 12 September 2010 - 08:17 PM

Thanks for linking this blog. It's interesting to me for obvious reasons. As usual, though, I still have the same question I've had ever since DinA began: Where are the female directors, camerapersons etc.etc.?

#3 bart

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 06:30 PM

I agree with 4rmrdncr: thank you for this link.

This is a fascinating insider's view. I envy King's ability to convey what the experience feels like for the dancers. She writes well and has an eye for telling details as well as the gift of cogency.

I was struck by the dance experience of the director, Matthew Diamond, who has also done many non-dance tv shows:

He told us that he is a former dancer, was a choreographer, and has watched the the three ballets that we will be filming over 50 times each. He said he was excited to start working with us and looking forward to the day's rehearsals.

[ ... ]He has also directed three other Dance In America programs, "San Francisco Ballet's 'The Nutcracker'", "American Ballet Theater's 'Swan Lake'", and "From Broadway: Fosse".

[ ... ]It was apparent right from the start that Mr. Diamond has every detail of this filming planned out. He had a binder full of notes on each ballet that he followed as the dancers were dancing. He was mouthing the counts and snapping his fingers as if to indicate a shot change. In each rehearsal we would mark through each movement with the music before really doing it . This process enabled him to see the patterns and how we would move around the stage.


The biggest surprise was a consequence of the absence of a conventional stage curtain. That means that the 34 dancers in the Western Symphony finale will have to perform 14 (rather than the usual 7 or so) pirouettes in perfect lines. :smilie_mondieu:

#4 Jack Reed

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 07:36 PM

[ ... ]It was apparent right from the start that Mr. Diamond has every detail of this filming planned out. He had a binder full of notes on each ballet that he followed as the dancers were dancing. He was mouthing the counts and snapping his fingers as if to indicate a shot change. In each rehearsal we would mark through each movement with the music before really doing it . This process enabled him to see the patterns and how we would move around the stage.


We've all seen on You-know-where the kind of video that results when the person behind the camera is surprised by where the performers go, haven't we? Even for shooting a ballet-school program with one camera, I thought it was mandatory to sit in enough rehearsals to know the stage patterns in their music, and let that familiarity guide the sequence of shots. I can't imagine doing a decent job any other way.

The biggest surprise was a consequence of the absence of a conventional stage curtain. That means that the 34 dancers in the Western Symphony finale will have to perform 14 (rather than the usual 7 or so) pirouettes in perfect lines. :smilie_mondieu:


And then what? Sudden darkness? Seeing all of those pirouettes completed, and then seeing the dancers stop, sounds to me like an alteration of Balanchine's effect. If you don't see them stop (because the curtain has come down), isn't it like they're going on forever? So some equivalent video effect is called for, to preserve Balanchine's effect on us, it seems to me. Maybe a fade-out, or a cross-fade. We'll see what happens.

#5 bart

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 05:01 AM

I guess that Diamond will try to preserve the Balanchine effect, even without the curtain. Perhaps they wanted such a large number of pirouettes to allow them time and freedom to make decisions during the editing process.

I assume something like a fade-out will be involved. After 6 turns? After 8? After 14? Will it be more exhilarating than the descending curtain, which allows us to imagine an unending -- possibly infinite -- series of turns? We'll see. :)

#6 sandik

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 11:23 AM

Thanks for linking this blog. It's interesting to me for obvious reasons. As usual, though, I still have the same question I've had ever since DinA began: Where are the female directors, camerapersons etc.etc.?


Yes, that's part of the question that also includes 'where are the female choreographers and company directors?"

Dance Chronicle is bringing out an issue in the next year on the topic -- the call for proposals is still open.

Dance Chronicle

#7 bart

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 03:30 PM

The entry on the fourth day of shooting is up:
http://tendusunderap...e.blogspot.com/

Three consecutive takes of Western Symphony's symphony 4th movement and finale seem rather heroic, though perhaps not for the young. :sweatingbullets::flowers:

Wish we knew who the soloists are in each movement.

#8 bart

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 01:15 PM

Callie Manning -- who danced in The Golden Section and the third movement Scherzo of Western Symphony -- is interviewed on the MCB blog. She focuses on differences between dancing in a theater and dancing for the camera in a film studio.

The news here is that Villella is reviving that very difficult Third Movement, originally danced by Patricia Wilde and Andre Eglevsky, which was dropped by NYCB in 1960.

http://www.miamicity...nce-in-america/

#9 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 03:06 PM

NYCB occasionally brings back the Scherzo as well.

Western was filmed for Dance in America around 1990 as well, with Peter Boal doing the second movement - if memory serves, it was filmed in Copenhagen as a co-production with Danish TV.

I'm trying to remember how they handled the end - it was different than onstage (am I crazy or at the end of the pirouettes did the men throw their hats in the air, and the camera froze on them and the credits rolled?)

#10 kfw

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 04:51 PM

Western was filmed for Dance in America around 1990 as well, with Peter Boal doing the second movement - if memory serves, it was filmed in Copenhagen as a co-production with Danish TV.

I'm trying to remember how they handled the end - it was different than onstage (am I crazy or at the end of the pirouettes did the men throw their hats in the air, and the camera froze on them and the credits rolled?)

Yeah, they throw them, jump up with their legs back, and the frame freezes. The lead couples are Soto/Roy, La Fosse/Saland, and Boal Alexopoulos.

#11 bart

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 06:53 PM

Does anyone know why Balanchine removed the Scherzo? Or why it is re-introduced occasionally?

Manning mentioned that, from a dancer's point of view, it's "hard," using that term several times. Can THAT be the reason for its frequent omission? :unsure:

P.S. The Scherzo WAS included when MCB danced this in January 2006. The 2 sets of leads I saw were Callie Manning/ Renato Penteado and Jeanette Delgado/ Alex Wong.

#12 4mrdncr

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 07:06 PM


Thanks for linking this blog. It's interesting to me for obvious reasons. As usual, though, I still have the same question I've had ever since DinA began: Where are the female directors, camerapersons etc.etc.?


Yes, that's part of the question that also includes 'where are the female choreographers and company directors?"

Dance Chronicle is bringing out an issue in the next year on the topic -- the call for proposals is still open.

Dance Chronicle


Where? I went to the link you provided but didn't see any mention of an upcoming issue or RFP. But I would be very interested in the topic (and may have something to contribute about it.) Thanks 'sandik' for alerting me (BT) to this forthcoming issue; I am glad someone is finally willing to research the topic more thoroughly. The major US publications have never had the nerve--well maybe they put in a line or two about women choreographers making forays, but that's all I've observed these many years. And 30yrs later, I'm still waiting for someone to sue NATAS and/or the DGA again for doing nothing.

#13 iwatchthecorps

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 07:06 AM

MCB Corps member Rebecca King has just posted the first part of an interview with Matthew Diamond. Mr. Diamond is director of Miami City Ballet's PBS special "Great Performances: Dance In America"

Questions include:

  • While working with Miami City Ballet dancers, what moment sticks out most in your memory?
  • How did you prepare for this filming? I would be interested to hear a bit about the notes that you brought to rehearsals that week in the studio?
  • The choreographers created these ballets to be performed live on stage. How do you find innovative and exciting camera angles, while simultaneously preserving the integrity of the stage performance?

You can find the interview at Tendus Undar a Palm Tree

#14 lmspear

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 11:26 AM

Has this program been broadcast? I haven't heard or read anything about it in months and I've been looking forward to it

Thanks.

MCB Corps member Rebecca King has just posted the first part of an interview with Matthew Diamond. Mr. Diamond is director of Miami City Ballet's PBS special "Great Performances: Dance In America"

Questions include:

  • While working with Miami City Ballet dancers, what moment sticks out most in your memory?
  • How did you prepare for this filming? I would be interested to hear a bit about the notes that you brought to rehearsals that week in the studio?
  • The choreographers created these ballets to be performed live on stage. How do you find innovative and exciting camera angles, while simultaneously preserving the integrity of the stage performance?

You can find the interview at Tendus Undar a Palm Tree



#15 bart

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 01:08 PM

According to Edward Villella, in a pre-performance talk, this will run on PBS stations in the fall.


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