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PNB Giselle Works&Process presentation

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The press release mentioned the live streaming for the 7:30pm performance. I'm not sure how 61 people found out it would be screened in the afternoon.

Both were taped and are available on the website (scroll to find):

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/worksandprocess

As of a few minutes ago, there have been 104 views of the afternoon presentation, and 378 of the evening. Hopefully there will be a lot more over time.

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The press release mentioned the live streaming for the 7:30pm performance. I'm not sure how 61 people found out it would be screened in the afternoon.

Both were taped and are available on the website (scroll to find):

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/worksandprocess

As of a few minutes ago, there have been 104 views of the afternoon presentation, and 378 of the evening. Hopefully there will be a lot more over time.

I'm wondering how I missed the afternoon screening as well, but was thrilled to see it whenever it was. I've not had much luck with streaming events in the past, and so was feeling pretty smug that this one worked for me.

And Imler's feet sometimes look blurred in the theater as well as on screen -- she's mighty fast!

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I enjoyed this program so much. I thought that all the dancing was extraordinary, and was amazed that four dancers on a small, bare stage could bring the story to life like they did. Carla Korbes is such a talented dancer, and her mime and acting skills are exceptional as well. She danced Clara in a Nutcracker performance I saw recently, and I noticed that she brings this talent to every single role she dances in. Carrie Imler seems to be at the peak of her dancing from what I have seen of her this season, and certainly from this live streamed performance. I was equally impressed with Doug Fullington. I found it interesting to hear not only the history of the ballet, but how complicated the whole process was in bringing this ballet back for PNB. I liked the explanation about how the virtuosity of dancing at that time was in the quickness of the feet and steps, and thought that Carrie Imler demonstrated this part of the program so perfectly. I was surprised to recognize that it was Alan Dameron who played the piano; the piano music was exceptional for this program. I thought that Peter Boal and Doug Fullington did a great job in putting this program together, and it really showed the enormous amount of talent that PNB has.

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I was surprised to recognize that it was Alan Dameron who played the piano; the piano music was exceptional for this program.

It was beautiful. It didn't sound like more typical rehearsal music, which is usually a more literal attempt to show the orchestration. (Bang, bang, pound, pound -- must be the trumpets!) Instead it sounded like a work that was written for piano, and I half wished that we could see a performance with this piano score, played with the sensitivity and coloring that Dameron did.

(It also makes me wish that Hershey Kay's orchestrations would be ditched for the piano versions in "Who Cares?" and a real band would replace the horrid orchestrations for "Stars and Stripes"...)

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I was surprised to recognize that it was Alan Dameron who played the piano; the piano music was exceptional for this program

One of the most satisfying musical experiences for me ever was to hear Allan Dameron (2 "L"s BTW) playing the Chopin for Robbins "Dances at a Gathering" in 2009 (I saw it 4 times....in large measure just to hear Dameron again and again). He played with such sensitivity and understanding.....if you think about it, it is that piano that gives much of the meaning and mood to that masterpiece of a ballet.

I was equally impressed with Doug Fullington.

Doug is a class act all the way. The more one listens to him, the more one realizes how vast is his knowledge base. He is also a very clear speaker who gets his points across in a deceptively simple and easy to understand way. For those able to attend PNB performances in Seattle, I highly recommend showing up an hour early to hear the pre-performance lectures that Doug gives before nearly every performance. You will be thoroughly entertained, learn a great deal, and catch bits of "inside story" along the way.

Worst for me: the frustrations about the image quality.

I know computers, so allow me to take a stab at this. Images (espcecially video) take a lot of data. Streaming and other websites address this "data overload" situation by reducing the size of the image (i.e., less pixels per inch hortizonally and vertically), or by reducing the information contained in those pixels (compression). The data required to be sent can be reduced 10:1 (sometimes more, sometimes less) with these techniquees. Of course, there is no free lunch, and what suffers is image quality. Compression can make images lose detail (especially if the movement is fast), and smaller images can't be expanded without the images becoming pixelated ("blocky"). One can't do much about compression since information has been purposely lost and there is no way to recreate it; however, lack of clearness due to small image size is best handled by not attempting to make the image bigger than the original (IOW, don't try to watch it full screen). Of course, in a smaller image it is hard to see detail, but you are still better off keeping it small instead of "blowing it up".

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A very good time, owing to the high quality of the work of all the presenters, but especially the performers, and something for everyone, too. It could serve as an introduction to Giselle for someone who hadn't seen it but might; it could serve as an update for those who haven't seen it enough, not least the insertion of lots of unfamiliar pantomime (like Bertha's whole paragraph about the opening of the earth and the emerging demons populating the dark forest - wow!), which raises the question not so far discussed here:

If pantomime has generally been discarded on the grounds that modern audiences don't comprehend it - not bad reasoning, I think; if people are sitting there "reading" what's happening, they're apt to miss the beauty of the movement, or again, worse, if they go home thinking, That's what they do here? Never again!, they'll miss a lot more - they aren't entertained by it, in other words, compared to the few of us who were delighted by the enrichment of detail of familiar matters - to say nothing of the large clarity and flowing grace, the fullness, of these performers' movement - what about that problem? Is the PNB audience likely to "take it"? Or is this project a courageous gamble? Any word on what Boal and his circle think about this (beyond his passing reference to whether Giselle is suitable for kids)?

Meanwhile, power to him, I say, and to his board; and where are the good seats, and how does a non-subscriber from afar get some?

As to the picture quality of this transmission, I had more problems with the nervous camerawork than with the video artifacts, though I have never seen these before - it looked to me like the screen was composed of narrow vertical glass strips which you noticed or not depending whether something was lined up exactly behind the edge of one - but if there's no chance for preparation, framing tends to suffer. Still, if the format of this presentation was similar to previous ones, it ought to occur to someone just to show the space the dancers are going to use rather than draw back so often to include the narrator as well (once we've ben shown this is the scene), and things like that.

(SandyMcKean's remarks about video image size vs. apparent quality are right on. In general, I find, if you can save a video and play it in a "player" - I'm talking about software - which gives you control of the image size, you can strike your own best compromise on a case-by-case basis.)

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The press release mentioned the live streaming for the 7:30pm performance. I'm not sure how 61 people found out it would be screened in the afternoon.

There were only 15 when I discovered the program was streaming, 10 minutes after it had begun. It's possible that some weren't actually watching, but just had the website up as a reminder to watch that evening (as I did), and weren't at their computers. A few of the others may have seen my alert, although judging from the number comments on the alert thread, probably only a few. In any case, I'm so glad the programs are archived!

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If you're asking how to get tickets to Giselle specifically, you can get them on the PNB website at pnb.org. Just click on Performances & Tickets, and then click on the 2010-11 Season. Seats in the Orchestra Side and Gallery Lower are very good seats for the money--although if you sit in the Gallery Lower you'll want to sit Row E or back or else you can't see the feet, and that's essentially what you want to see! The Sat., 6/11 @ 2:00 performance must be an add-on because there are LOTS of good seats still available for that particular performance.

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Or is this project a courageous gamble? Meanwhile, power to him, I say, and to his board.....

My opinion is that it is a "courageous gamble". You are right-on about the board. I've talked to a couple of them, and I am always impressed with how willing the board seems to be to allow risky programs. The company doesn't go hog-wild mind you, but it is not afraid to take risks. This season for example, does have "Giselle" which might be "too much" mime for the average audience member, but then again it is still what most folks probably expect ballet to look like (as opposed to say Kylian's "Petite Mort" done earlier this season). PNB is also doing Stowell's "Cinderella" and Balanchine's "Midsummer's Night Dream" making 3 of the season's 6 programs a marketing department's dream (counting "Giselle").

where are the good seats

shopgirl gives good advise on where the best bang for the buck is; however, naturally where one sits depends greatly on what you like. Her recommendations are in the orchestra, fairly (or even very) close, and where your eye level isn't much above the stage. If you have more bucks to spend, and like the orchestra, one can sit more centrally of course (but don't go further back than row W or you will be under a low balcony ceiling). A bit more pricey than shopgirl's suggestions is the Upper Galley (best in seats 1 thru 4); here you can be both close-ish and a bit elevated. The Dress Circle is quite pricey, but is central and at an ideal elevation (altho even the 1st row is too far back for my tastes). The more forward of the 2nd tier boxes can be interesting if you like something unusual and don't mind missing one of the upstage corners.

Perhaps best of all is that PNB has an automated system on the internet such that you can see what seats are available in real time; you can select a seat and purchase it just as if you were spending minutes (or hours :)) talking to a box office agent (go here to see an example).

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A bit more pricey than shopgirl's suggestions is the Upper Galley (best in seats 1 thru 4); here you can be both close-ish and a bit elevated. The Dress Circle is quite pricey, but is central and at an ideal elevation (altho even the 1st row is too far back for my tastes). The more forward of the 2nd tier boxes can be interesting if you like something unusual and don't mind missing one of the upstage corners.

Here's the seating chart:

http://www.pnb.org/Season/SeatingChart/Subscription.aspx

Here is a "Select Your Own Seat" for Saturday, 4 June matinee; it shows seat number, section, and price for available tickets if you position your mouse over the blue dot:

http://www.pnb.org/Season/Reserve/?perf=116R602

Some info about the Galleries:

The Galleries (Floor, Right, and Left) are long banks of seats that starts at the far Orchestra level and connects to the Dress Circle (DC is the equivalent of First Tier at State Theater or Grand Tier at the Metropolitan Opera House. I don't know the venues in Miami.) There are four rows of Floor, six rows of Gallery Lower, and 11 rows of Gallery Upper that have 1-6 seats per row, with "1" closest to the center, and 6 on the far outer aisle. These end with row "W". To the far side of 4 is not great for ballet. Even 3 is a bit tough. If I have to sit that far out, I opt for farther back, too.

The last four rows of Gallery Upper are the far end seats of the Dress Circle Level. Those rows are labeled "X", "B", "C", and "D". In row "X", the seats are numbered 1-4, like the rest of Gallery Upper, but for rows B-D, the higher the number, the closer to the far aisle. Seats 1-8 are Dress Circle; seats 9-17 in rows B and C and seats 9-13 in row D are Gallery Upper. The difference in price is $73 for Gallery Upper vs. $105 for Dress Circle vs. $165 for Dress Circle Preferred (the first two rows of the two center sections). My subscription seat has been in Gallery Upper seat 9 in row B for several years, and I think it's a great seat, the best combination of price and visibility. If you look at the seating chart, you'll see gaps between the far aisle seats in row X on either side. That's some kind of light box that doesn't restrict the view and also means no one in front of you.

The tricky part is that the hall has sections with repeat numbers. Gallery Upper Right is section "DC 24". The section next to it, closer to the center, is all Dress Circle, and those seats start again with 1 closer to the center and 14 on the farther aisle. If you do opt for Dress Circle, be sure you know which section you're in.

If you opt for Orchestra, my favorite seats are the center-most aisle of the two end sections. You can see from the chart that there's a slight flare, which means being able to see around the person in front of you, if that becomes an issue.

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My subscription seat has been in Gallery Upper seat 9 in row B for several years, and I think it's a great seat....

I agree. Helene, in her usual thoroughness, has manuveored herself into what is arguably the best seat in the house considering cost, viewing angles, and distance from the stage (personally I'd want binoculars, but I always have them with me anyway).

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The subscription people have been very kind to me. Wanting a single seat almost always helps getting a better one than wanting a pair or more.

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If pantomime has generally been discarded on the grounds that modern audiences don't comprehend it - not bad reasoning, I think; if people are sitting there "reading" what's happening, they're apt to miss the beauty of the movement, or again, worse, if they go home thinking, That's what they do here? Never again!, they'll miss a lot more - they aren't entertained by it, in other words, compared to the few of us who were delighted by the enrichment of detail of familiar matters - to say nothing of the large clarity and flowing grace, the fullness, of these performers' movement - what about that problem? Is the PNB audience likely to "take it"? Or is this project a courageous gamble? Any word on what Boal and his circle think about this (beyond his passing reference to whether Giselle is suitable for kids)?

I think it's time to consider adding surtitles to ballet pantomime. The opera lovers I know really like them.

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Does anyone know if there are plans to produce a dvd of Peter Boal’s new staging of Giselle?

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Unless a very big donor comes along with a very big check for that specific use, the odds are heavily stacked to "no". It's unlikely that public TV would or could raise the money like the BBC did for the PNB "A Midsummer Night's Dream". PNB's "The Nutcracker", the only other commercial recording by the company, was a studio production, not a video/film of a live performance.

While the excerpts were wonderful, and the restoration of the fullness of the mime is significant, it's still too early to know how significant the final version's choreography will be, since Boal will be making the decisions, and he's indicated that he's relying on the dancers' assessment of difficulty and comfort for input. Besides the difference in today's dancers' bodies and technique that Doug Fullington mentioned, Boal is looking at this with a modern eye. The difference in the man's variation in "Peasant Pas de Deux" between the notated version, excerpted by James Moore, and the one Boal chose, danced it it's entirety, is striking. The chosen version had less detail and was bigger. It reminded me very much of the comparison of the "Baisee de la Fee" in the Jordan/Morrison DVD "Ashton to Stravinsky: A Study of Four Ballets", where the Balanchine version was bigger with less detail than Ashton's, and Macmillan's even more so.

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I wonder how "complete" this restoration will be in terms of how much will be chosen from subsequent added segments. I'm curious to know if that Act I PDD-(deleted long ago and discussed in this board, and only included in the Zuraitis recording for the Bolshoi)-was ever notated, or the rarely played female variation from the Peasant PDD, or the coda from the male variation from the same Pas-(almost always absent too). What about the very final scene...? Will they restore the whole party of people witnessing Giselle and Albretch final moments..Bathilde included..with the gesture of Giselle for her to take possession of Albretch...? Too many details...but it would be wonderful if at least this very final scene was revived.

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I completely agree about the Bournonville feeling - A dance-historian friend here pointed out that there was no mention of the fact that Petipa rarely choreographed male variations but left them to the virtuoso performers, and that the man's variation was probably choreographed by Bournonville's star student Johannsen, who went to St Petersburg and was principal dancer in Petipa's time. The "50 Bournonville combinations" video documents this pair of steps -- single air tours in opposite directions back to back -- as part of the Bornonville syllabus.

In any case, THESE dancers made the steps look very graceful, including the air tours in both directions. Perhaps other dancers can't make them look so satisfying -- but there's a heavenly sparkle to the girl's, especially that sissone around the corner, and a sweet softness to the boy's which is less dazzling but more grounded and appealing than the all-beating-all-the-time variant the director decided upon, which looks very exciting but kinda giddy.

............

Editing to add

Congratulations to everybody. The presentation in itself was fascinating, especially Marian Smith's uniformly interesting information about the annotated autograph score esp the human voices to be heard in the music. [Though I'd like to add that even the printed scores have SOME indication of voices -- for example, there's the "rire satanique des Wilis," i.e the satanic laughter of the Wilis -- which is written above the piano reduction of the score I've used from in the UC music library, the kinda terrifying long trill that occurs just before the Wilis run Hilarion (and later Albrecht) onto the stage -- it's the same sound MS Smith calls Giselle's giggle.

ANd just a side note -- Helgi Tomasson's production also includes Berthe's mime speech, and it's very welcome, very effective; I've seen it delivered powerfully by several powerful mothers, including Anita Paciotti and Katita Waldo.

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The Mother's Mime is in Olga Evreinoff's staging for Ballet Arizona. It creates a dramatic arc in the first act, and at the same time presages Act II.

The Bournonville classes are impossibly difficult, but that kind of training makes variations like in the Peasant Pas de Deux more probable.

The music itself -- i.e., what parts of the score will be used -- wasn't discussed in the presentation, apart when Doug Fullington noted that the Peasant Pas de Deux, while in the premiere, was added late, and that the music wasn't by Adam, but by Burgmüller. According to the notes from Ballet Met, "The peasant pas de deux was inserted at the last minute for Nathalie Fitzjames, a soloist in the favor of an influential ballet patron. Mlle. Fitzjames danced with Auguste Mabille."

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Helene, unless I'm mistaken, Fullington and Boal are making NO attempt to reconstruct the original production -- all this is based on Petipa's version for St Petersburg, with some added color in the mime that goes back to the original. Yes, there's reference to the original score and annotations for the original Paris version, but all the steps PNB uses would come from Sergeyev [Petipa's version].

We don't know much -- do we? -- about where Petipa changed things and where he left it the same -- except that PROBABLY the parts of the pdd that are identical to Sleeping Beauty pdd (the supported soussus, developpe front, fouette to attitude, penche) seem PROBABLY pure Petipa....

Certainly those lifts in the pdd are modern variants -- the sweep backwards before the pique looks a lot like the Cojocaru version and are NOT what Vasiliev and Maximova did, not what Seymour and Nureyev did... They are REALLY beautiful, but they're from now, not from then....

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The notes from which the choreography is being constructed are from Sergeyev. This is not only not a choreographic reconstruction of the original, but it's not meant to be a choreographic reconstruction of the Sergeyev. Several reasons were cited: First, Doug Fullington noted that the amount of detail in the Sergeyev notations varies from ballet to ballet, with the level of detail getting less and less as the ballets were notated, and "Giselle" was in the middle range for detail. Second, Peter Boal is deciding what will be included where and what will be adjusted, as shown in the Peasant Pas de Deux demonstration, and he said he is taking the dancers' input into consideration.

Regarding the pas de deux, I don't remember any part of the presentation that addressed how much detailed notation there was for the pas de deux, what version was presented, and if there was notation, the specific choice of what was presented vs. the material at hand, unlike the Peasant Pas de Deux variation where Moore demonstrated part of the old vs. the new.

However, to say that there is no attempt to reconstruct the original demotes the mime, when it was about half mime/half dance in the original, with the scale tipped to dance when Peasant Pas de Deux was added. Perhaps I misunderstood the intent, but it appeared to me that by going to the annotated score and clarifying the mime, it's no less a reconstruction of the original than using the Sergeyev notation to reconstruct parts of the choreography.

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David Vaughn's piece on "Giselle Revisited" (:flowers:) was published today in danceviewtimes, and he writes about scene order and music in the ballet:

Of course, many changes have been made to the traditional choreography by subsequent stagers. Peter Wright, in his production for the Royal Ballet, and Kevin McKenzie, for American Ballet Theatre, are among those who have, so to speak, shuffled the various incidents in the first act and dealt them out in an order different from that in the original scenario. Thus, the “peasant” pas de deux, an interpolation in the original 1841 production (it always used to be called the “inset” pas de deux), is sometimes performed as an entertainment for the ducal hunting party, sometimes after they have left, and sometimes multiplied into a pas de quatre or pas de six. The hunting party, which always used to retire into Giselle’s cottage to rest and freshen up, sometimes now goes back into the woods. Hilarion’s first entrance, and his leaving gifts (a pair of pheasants, a rabbit, a bunch of flowers?) at Giselle’s cottage, is often done to the wrong music. And the order and content of his investigations into Albrecht’s true identity undergo various changes. And so on.

The PNB approach wasn't addressed specifically in the presentation; I hope it will be as the production nears. A restoration of the dramatic order and music would make this production significant in itself.

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Smith didn't discuss the suicide question at the Seattle presentation either. I was going to ask the question, but since they didn't show any of the mad scene I decided not to, but I'm wishing that I had!

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Does anyone know if there are plans to produce a dvd of Peter Boal’s new staging of Giselle?
- innopac
Unless a very big donor comes along with a very big check for that specific use, the odds are heavily stacked to "no"
. - Helene

However, there are often archival videos filed in various libraries that can be viewed on the premises. I think there are good odds that an archival shot of this might end up at the NYPL or Library of Congress. I wonder what PNB's usual habit is this way. If they are planning to copyright this staging, then a copy must be filed with the Library of Congress.

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I'm not sure where they'll file it outside PNB, but all performances are taped and are available for viewing at the PNB library.

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David Vaughn's piece on "Giselle Revisited" (:flowers:) was published today in danceviewtimes, and he writes about scene order and music in the ballet:

Of course, many changes have been made to the traditional choreography by subsequent stagers. Peter Wright, in his production for the Royal Ballet, and Kevin McKenzie, for American Ballet Theatre, are among those who have, so to speak, shuffled the various incidents in the first act and dealt them out in an order different from that in the original scenario. Thus, the peasant pas de deux, an interpolation in the original 1841 production (it always used to be called the inset pas de deux), is sometimes performed as an entertainment for the ducal hunting party, sometimes after they have left, and sometimes multiplied into a pas de quatre or pas de six. The hunting party, which always used to retire into Giselles cottage to rest and freshen up, sometimes now goes back into the woods. Hilarions first entrance, and his leaving gifts (a pair of pheasants, a rabbit, a bunch of flowers?) at Giselles cottage, is often done to the wrong music. And the order and content of his investigations into Albrechts true identity undergo various changes. And so on.

The PNB approach wasn't addressed specifically in the presentation; I hope it will be as the production nears. A restoration of the dramatic order and music would make this production significant in itself.

The big question here-(still on the air)-being what's to be restored. Are they trying to follow the very final Petipa staging ?-(which I believe was the one to be notated, but correct me if I'm wrong). In this case, maybe the 1884 Petipa/Minkus/Gorshenkova Act I PDD could be a potential applicant...? That would be wonderful, as it seems that this was the only piece among the added Petipa/Minkus segments that got lost at some point-(unlike the Act I Pas Seul or Act II Giselle's variation/waltz). I hope doug is reading this so he can clarify my doubt. Is this PDD notated...? Is there a possibility for it to be revived...?

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