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"Balanchine Then and Now"Responses???


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#16 Ray

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Posted 17 September 2011 - 11:24 AM

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.

#17 Quiggin

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Posted 17 September 2011 - 12:20 PM

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

#18 sandik

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Posted 17 September 2011 - 07:42 PM

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.

#19 BocaBallerina

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Posted 18 September 2011 - 04:56 AM


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.

#20 Jayne

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Posted 18 September 2011 - 10:45 PM

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.

#21 lsu

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 07:00 AM

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!

#22 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 10:21 AM


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.



#23 Amy Reusch

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 08:18 PM

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.

#24 Eileen

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 10:17 AM

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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