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"Balanchine Then and Now"

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I just spotted this book at a NYCB performance. I haven't heard of it. Has anyone read it? What did you think??

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I just spotted this book at a NYCB performance. I haven't heard of it. Has anyone read it? What did you think??

I also found this book at the gift shop. My verdict: fascinating. More to follow.

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I just spotted this book at a NYCB performance. I haven't heard of it. Has anyone read it? What did you think??

I also found this book at the gift shop. My verdict: fascinating. More to follow.

Great! Looking forward to your thoughts.

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I just spotted this book at a NYCB performance. I haven't heard of it. Has anyone read it? What did you think??

I also found this book at the gift shop. My verdict: fascinating. More to follow.

Great! Looking forward to your thoughts.

I've been meaning to take another look at this book, and now that the season has begun, I took the opportunity to page through it during intermission, quickly. I have mixed reactions, because the choice of subjects interviewed was rather odd. The chapters with comments by Violette Verdy and Suki Schorer were wonderful, they are so insightful and knowledgeable. But there are some minor dancers in the company and in ABT (Francia Russell and Nanette Glushak) who are interviewed, and I'm not sure how much they add to a book on Balanchine. And then there are several individuals who are in contemporary dance and have nothing to do with classical ballet at all, and I have no idea why they are included. So if you read the introduction and the chapters on the major dancers, that's really all that's interesting. And the price at the Gift Shop is an unreasonable $50! That alone is enough to make this a "look through" during intermission rather than a purchase. I think the editor of the book did not have access to enough subjects to fill an entire book, so resorted to "filler". But the photographs are sublime.

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Not sure I would discount those two too much.... Besides been co AD for PNB, doesn't Francia Russell set pieces for the Trust?

. - Setting Balanchine on Het Nataionale

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Not sure I would discount those two too much.... Besides been co AD for PNB, doesn't Francia Russell set pieces for the Trust?

. - Setting Balanchine on Het Nataionale

Thanks for your correction. I did not realize.

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But there are some minor dancers in the company and in ABT (Francia Russell and Nanette Glushak) who are interviewed, and I'm not sure how much they add to a book on Balanchine.

Actually, both these women have a lot to say about Balanchine that's very interesting. (NG has had a fascinating career, in and outside of NYCB.) But I think your larger point is right: readers of a book like this should hear from the "major" voices; on the face of it, it sounds like the interviews were selected for expediency. That said, I think there is a real need to interview thoughtfully all of the "minor" players, too, who are still around; this kind of research would appear in a different kind of book, though (one I would certainly read!).

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Eileen got me to look more closely at what little information is available about content, at least as far as a short Google search turns up. I guess I was expecting something more on the order of Francis Mason's collection of memoirs: I Remember Balanchine. Now THAT's a roster of big (and smaller) players. (1991, 598 pp.)

Balanchine Then and Now is a more slender book (128 pp.). The list of contributors seems, as Eileen and Ray suggest, rather unfocussed. The likelihood of this being definitive in any way seems slight, to me at least. I think I'll hold off until reader reviews appear on Amazon. OR here.

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Nanette Glushack is the artistic director of "Ballet du Nord" in France, which has long been a respected venue for Balanchine works. She also sets works by Mr B. for the Balanchine Trust.

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Bart:

I guess I was expecting something more on the order of Francis Mason's collection of memoirs: I Remember Balanchine.

For me "I Remember Balanchine" is really the essential Balanchine book – or Balanchines, because all dancers who are interviewed have different points of view. The Elliott Carter discussion is also included.

What I found most valuable about "Balanchine Then and Now" was the "Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fee: Ghost Stories" chapter about how Helgi Tomasson's solo was built with pieces of the pas de deux out of older versions. Violette Verdy's interview was also good but that may be in Mason.

By the way, Artbook also lists forthcoming titles on Michael Clark (Violette) and Merce Cunningham (DAP). (And since Artbook done the curating in this case, it might be more appropriate to order these two from Artbook rather than Amazon, which acts more as a general store / clearinghouse.)

Artbook

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Another valuable addition to print material on Balanchine might be gathering the written descriptions of some (or all) of the Interpreters Archive coaching sessions, sponsored by the Balanchine Foundation.

DanceView has published some of these, and I believe Ballet Review has as well, though I may be confusing the latter with interviews with Balanchine coaches.. Such poices are invaluable to the ballet professional but also can be read and enjoyed by non-dancing ballet lovers.

It would be marvelous to have this type of piece -- which gives a feel for the way Balanchine is interpreted, experienced, and passed by dancers -- collected in one location.

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If you're talking about my reports on the Interpreters Archive, those have all been in Dance View (the print magazine). Forthcoming is a piece on Suki Schorer coaching La Source (second ballerina role) and Conrad Ludlow coaching Liebesleider Walzer.

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Another valuable addition to print material on Balanchine might be gathering the written descriptions of some (or all) of the Interpreters Archive coaching sessions, sponsored by the Balanchine Foundation.

DanceView has published some of these, and I believe Ballet Review has as well, though I may be confusing the latter with interviews with Balanchine coaches.. Such poices are invaluable to the ballet professional but also can be read and enjoyed by non-dancing ballet lovers.

It would be marvelous to have this type of piece -- which gives a feel for the way Balanchine is interpreted, experienced, and passed by dancers -- collected in one location.

Barbara Horgan has written me about the Balanchine Foundation's efforts to videotape coaching sessions - original Balanchine dancers coaching younger dancers - so the Balanchine interpretation is recorded and his original intent preserved. But it's very expensive and so she is searching for funding. To have videotape of dancers like Verdy coaching Emeralds would be wonderful, and I have seen tape of Allegra Kent coaching Darci in Sonnambula years ago. Miss Horgan wrote that she is working against time, as the older dancers, an irreplaceable resource, are dwindling.

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Barbara Horgan has written me about the Balanchine Foundation's efforts to videotape coaching sessions - original Balanchine dancers coaching younger dancers - so the Balanchine interpretation is recorded and his original intent preserved. But it's very expensive and so she is searching for funding. To have videotape of dancers like Verdy coaching Emeralds would be wonderful, and I have seen tape of Allegra Kent coaching Darci in Sonnambula years ago. Miss Horgan wrote that she is working against time, as the older dancers, an irreplaceable resource, are dwindling.

Videos are definitely important. I was thinking however of written accounts by observers of these sessions. Several have appeared in DanceView in recent years, I believe. (Unfortunately I recently gave away my archives of DV and similar serious publications, and cannot recollect the specific works.)

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Barbara Horgan has written me about the Balanchine Foundation's efforts to videotape coaching sessions - original Balanchine dancers coaching younger dancers - so the Balanchine interpretation is recorded and his original intent preserved. But it's very expensive and so she is searching for funding. To have videotape of dancers like Verdy coaching Emeralds would be wonderful, and I have seen tape of Allegra Kent coaching Darci in Sonnambula years ago. Miss Horgan wrote that she is working against time, as the older dancers, an irreplaceable resource, are dwindling.

Videos are definitely important. I was thinking however of written accounts by observers of these sessions. Several have appeared in DanceView in recent years, I believe. (Unfortunately I recently gave away my archives of DV and similar serious publications, and cannot recollect the specific works.)

There is a video of Verdy coaching dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet--it's quite amazing and, I believe, commercially available (edited to add: but it's of Liebeslieder, not Emeralds). But Bart is right about the importance of written accounts. I would add that I think more extensive scholarly work should also be undertaken to capture all of these voices in a systematic way.

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There is a very spirited tutorial on Emeralds in "Violette & Mr B," directed by Dominique Delouche – in a different format than the Interpreter's Archive - focusing perhaps more on the tone and flavor of the originals over technical details. Alonso's "Theme and Variations" Interpreter's Archive video, done with Josefina Mendez, is very entertaining – an event in itself, but it also gives important clues on which parts of T&V are to be presented brilliantly to the audience, and which parts are a private conversation between the two soloists. Tomasson's demonstration of the Baiser gypsy dance to Gonzalo Garcia seems to capture the eeriness of the original, and Bolender's 4T's is very fine – at one point he suggests, "here it's almost as if you're being unctuous".

What's interesting about the videos and the value over the written accounts – at least in the five or six I've seen – is to see just how much of the original tone of the choreography can be transmitted to the younger dancer and how much can't. It's as if you're somewhere watching the zeitgeists of two decades having a conversation with each other.

VV & Robbins:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaCpQzkc1ik

Link to Leigh's Dance View reports:

Balanchine Archive

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Barbara Horgan has written me about the Balanchine Foundation's efforts to videotape coaching sessions ... To have videotape of dancers like Verdy coaching Emeralds would be wonderful,

Verdy was here in Seattle at Pacific Northwest Ballet (with Mimi Paul) coaching Emeralds a couple years ago and it was indeed fascinating. The company held one of the sessions open to the public, and I believe it was videotaped, but I don't know that the tape is destined for general circulation.

As a Seattle person, I wanted to speak up for Francia Russell, who has been a very influential stager of Balanchine's works, and is an authority on the versions that were performed when she was dancing with the company (mid-50s) It's been pure pleasure to see her stagings of his works here over the years.

I haven't seen the book in question, and so cannot speak specifically about it, but it sounds like it might be an interesting addition to works like I Remember Balanchine, but not a substitute.

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Barbara Horgan has written me about the Balanchine Foundation's efforts to videotape coaching sessions - original Balanchine dancers coaching younger dancers - so the Balanchine interpretation is recorded and his original intent preserved. But it's very expensive and so she is searching for funding. To have videotape of dancers like Verdy coaching Emeralds would be wonderful, and I have seen tape of Allegra Kent coaching Darci in Sonnambula years ago. Miss Horgan wrote that she is working against time, as the older dancers, an irreplaceable resource, are dwindling.

Videos are definitely important. I was thinking however of written accounts by observers of these sessions. Several have appeared in DanceView in recent years, I believe. (Unfortunately I recently gave away my archives of DV and similar serious publications, and cannot recollect the specific works.)

There is a video of Verdy coaching dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet--it's quite amazing and, I believe, commercially available (edited to add: but it's of Liebeslieder, not Emeralds). But Bart is right about the importance of written accounts. I would add that I think more extensive scholarly work should also be undertaken to capture all of these voices in a systematic way.

There is also a fantastic dance computer software, "DanceForms" that Cunningham has used to preserve some of his choreography. It is an incredible software and I have worked with it some for a choreographer that I am a Regisseur for. The Trust really should consider using this software for Balanchine's works because some day those who work with him will be gone and we will be on to the second generation.

Also, just to comment, I've heard of the Balanchine Then and Now from one of my former Professors and he highly recommended that anyone passionate about Balanchine and Ballet should read the book.

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In defense of Francia Russell, her dance career was cut short due to injury. Mr. B then made her ballet mistress. She held this position during some of Mr. B's most extraordinary years of choreography, and I think her opinions are very valuable and unique. When PNB first performed in NYC about 15 years ago, the common thread in reviews was that the company looked like NYCB used to look in the mid 1960's. I think this is because Francia staged works based on her employment at NYCB during the 1960's as ballet mistress. Who are we as fans to decide who is "important" or "unimportant" to make interesting contributions to the library of Balanchine books? Are only the dancers who attained the title "principle" worthy? How can we really judge who witnessed the most fascinating parts of making Mr. B's ballets? I think the ballet masters / mistresses were the original audiences to the creation of many of these ballets and have interesting things to say.

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Nanette Glushack is the artistic director of "Ballet du Nord" in France, which has long been a respected venue for Balanchine works. She also sets works by Mr B. for the Balanchine Trust.

Sorry, but I believe that Nanette is artistic director of Ballet du Capitol in Toulouse until August 2012...she does set Balanchine pieces though!

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Nanette Glushack is the artistic director of "Ballet du Nord" in France, which has long been a respected venue for Balanchine works. She also sets works by Mr B. for the Balanchine Trust.

Sorry, but I believe that Nanette is artistic director of Ballet du Capitol in Toulouse until August 2012...she does set Balanchine pieces though!

You're right! Sorry. Ballet du Nord does have a long association with Balanchine, which is why I got confused. From the NYTimes, in 1987 (Anna Kissellgoff)"

It is a regional ballet company that was established through governmental edict as recently as 1983. Its artistic director is Alfonso Cata, a familiar figure in the American ballet world since his dancing days at the New York City Ballet in the mid-1960's.

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Bocaballerina... Do you think Lifeforms is a good method of preserving the qualities of the interpretations or simply a good shorthand for recording the steps? I rather thought the steps to the choreographies were not in danger of being forgotten but rather the particular qualities of appropriate interpretation that come from skilled coaching... Would be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

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In defense of Francia Russell, her dance career was cut short due to injury. Mr. B then made her ballet mistress. She held this position during some of Mr. B's most extraordinary years of choreography, and I think her opinions are very valuable and unique. When PNB first performed in NYC about 15 years ago, the common thread in reviews was that the company looked like NYCB used to look in the mid 1960's. I think this is because Francia staged works based on her employment at NYCB during the 1960's as ballet mistress. Who are we as fans to decide who is "important" or "unimportant" to make interesting contributions to the library of Balanchine books? Are only the dancers who attained the title "principle" worthy? How can we really judge who witnessed the most fascinating parts of making Mr. B's ballets? I think the ballet masters / mistresses were the original audiences to the creation of many of these ballets and have interesting things to say.

You're absolutely right, someone who was at Balanchine's side during the creation of his ballets in the sixties is an important source. I was mistaken because I did not know who Francia Russell was. But I would still recommend I Remember Balanchine over Balanchine Then and Now. I Remember Balanchine has interviews with non-principals, people in production, costumes, his doctor. (By the way, it was edited by Jackie O.)

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