Eileen

Why hasn't Elgar been choreographed?

19 posts in this topic

I often hear music on classical music radio in New York (WQXR-FM 105.9) and think, wouldn't that be a wonderful ballet? In a post on the NYCB forum recently, I suggested Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1 as eminently danceable.

Now I heard Wand of Youth by Elgar earlier today. It's based on music he wrote to accompany his childhood theatricals. I thought, why hasn't that been choreographed for the students for Workshop? It could start with the small children, then the music turns lushly romantic and perfect for a pas de deux for the advanced students. The last two movements are rather lugubrious and not as crowd-pleasing as the rest. I'm not sure what I'd do with those movements. Maybe intersperse them with the others so they aren't as concentrated. Maybe eliminate one. The piece seems about 1/2 hour in length. It is choreographable. Are you listening, Christopher Wheeldon? Alexei Ratmansky? Even (!) Peter Martins???

Then there's one of my favorites, but it's only about 15 minutes. It could be paired with one of the shorter ballets like Tarantella. I have always adored Nino Rota's music to Il Gattopardo, The Leopard. Very danceable. If only I'd had ballet training - I am always imagining steps to music I hear. If I am with my grandnephews and grandneices, I start to dance! They must think that very odd indeed. When I swim I imagine myself dancing in the water. Luckily, I don't have a ballet body (I'm quite slim, but not to the degree needed for ballet.), so no my lack of training was not a loss.

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During my time with Ballet Met, the Alice in Wonderland that was created was to all Elgar. biggrin.png

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Frederick Ashton choreographed "Enigma Variations".

Elgar wrote a ballet score called "The Sanguine Fan" written for galas performed for wartime charities in 1917. From this article it seems to have been presented only as a concert, recorded in a studio, and then fallen into obscurity.

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Frederick Ashton choreographed "Enigma Variations".

Elgar wrote a ballet score called "The Sanguine Fan" written for galas performed for wartime charities in 1917. From this article it seems to have been presented only as a concert, recorded in a studio, and then fallen into obscurity.

Ashton also choreographed a piece de occasion for Margot Fonteyn's farewell gala(?) to Elgar (can't think of the title) .This music was used very effectively in the TV series "Downton Abbey"( in the fundraising concert scene).

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"Wand of Youth" mentioned in the first comment was part of the Elgar score put together for Trey McIntyre's PETER PAN for Houston Ballet.

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Ronald Hynd choreographed The Sanguine Fan for Festival (now English National) Ballet and it lasted several seasons - until a change of director I seem to think. It was a pleasant little ballet with a plot about twin brothers, two? ladies and a fan. Not the plot which Elgar originally provided. I really wouldn't mind seeing it again.

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keep an eye out; hynd's the sanguine fan was televised by the bbc in 1980 along with graduation ball, and margot fonteyn provided the introduction and commentaries. my mind says the lady in Fan was patricia ruanne, but i can't be entirely sure without checking.

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Stefano Gianetti used Elgar (including a lot of the Enigma Variations) for his production of Great Expectations for Northern Ballet in 2000.

Ashton's Enigma Variations is, IMHO, a true masterpiece.

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my mind says the lady in Fan was patricia ruanne

She certainly used to dance inthat ballet, though I don't know if she created the role. Another cast was Manola Ascencio and I seem to remember Eva Evdokimova as the girl in pink.

Michael Corder also used Elgar for a ballet he did for Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet (now Birmingham Royal Ballet).

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well they were both there~~! here is the library's entry:

The sanguine fan (L'éventail) / choreography, Ronald Hynd ; music, Edward Elgar ; original stage design, Peter Docherty ; designed for television by Kenneth Sharp ; performed by Manola Asensio (Girl in pink), Patricia Ruanne (Woman in red), Ben Van Cauwenbergh & Nigel Burgoine (Twin brothers), Terry Hayworth (Gentleman's gentleman), and members of the London Festival Ballet

Graduation ball / choreography, David Lichine ; music, Johann Strauss (arr. Dorati) ; performed by Trevor Wood (Headmistress), David Long (General), Manola Asensio (Sylphide), Jay Jolley (Scotsman), Lucia Truglia (Pigtails), Andria Hall (Junior lead pupil), Jean-Louis Cabane (Junior lead cadet), Matz Skoog (Drummer), Mary McKendry & Jeanette Mulligan (Fouetté girls), and members of the London Festival Ballet

Performers:

Narrator: Margot Fonteyn.

Danced by London Festival Ballet

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Michael Corder also used Elgar for a ballet he did for Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet (now Birmingham Royal Ballet).

Yes - and it was actually The Wand of Youth. Thank you, Alymer - I was sure there had been a ballet to that music for SWRB but couldn't remember the choreographer.

And of course Ashton used Elgar's Nursery Suite for the piece he made for a gala, about Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. And didn't Wheeldon make a Sea Pictures ballet for SFB?

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Paul Taylor's SUNSET for his own co. by also staged by ballet companies is set to Elgar.

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Thank you rg for telling me of the use of Wand of Youth for Houston Ballet's Peter Pan. Perfect for that ballet, at least the initial sectios.

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Would it be worth starting a forum/list on Ballet Alert where musical pieces are indexed alphabetically alongside ballets known to have been danced to them at some time? Or does such a resource exist elsewhere?

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The last company I danced with did a piece (similar in plot to Lilac Garden, choreographed by the AD) to Elgar's Enigma Variations--I still remember the choreography of the pdd to Nimrod, and some of the final action (where husband apologises to wife). It was a very moving piece, but I think doing Balanchine's "Stars & Stripes" as the finale kind of buried it.dunno.gif (The critics, though, gave it the better review.)

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yes, Wheeldon did Sea Pictures for SFB a decade ago. Now that I think about it, it seems the fore-runner of his 'Ghosts.'

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If you are interested in Ballet and music, and have the capability to create new works, they can often be inspired by hearing just the smallist excerp from a piece of music. It takes a lot of work from the initial composition to research and find enough music by the same composer to create a full length ballet.

Since 2005 I have been doing just that, and have so far written six original new ballets, which have been seen by a number of well known //artistic Directors. I am currently working on another special ballet using music by Rachmaninov. It is not a case of my using an existing stiory, I have quite a vivid imagination, and my love of Ballet and experience of working in the genre has given me the enthuisisium and confidence in trying to get my idea's performed. My projects include Libretto, Scenery and Costume Desgn, and the music that I have found for the production. Sounds easy enough, but it is in fact many hours of hard work. But I love every minute of mt tume spent on it.

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Maybe it's in the "Dance in America" program "Ballerinas: Dances by Peter Martins" where Martins said he heard a piece by Beethoven playing on the radio, and he thought of Kyra Nichols and choreographed "Beethoven Romance" for her and Adam Luders.

I also remember a comment in one of Christine Brennan's books on figure skating that Michael Weiss' coach Audrey Weisinger used to get distracted by music she heard on the radio when she thought it would be good program music, which didn't help her driving record.

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