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Ghislaine Thesmar Coaching


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#1 EvilNinjaX

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 04:52 PM

In case you haven't already seen this video of Ghislaine Thesmar rehearsing Isabelle Ciaravola and Herve Moreau. It's very nice, though admittedly I'm not that familar with Palais Cristal (but I adore the music).



For those knowledgeable here, could you tell me about Palais Cristal and Symphony in C; are they basically the same are was it totally reworked in its new incarnation? thx. (Any other background info on the piece would also be quite welcome.)

#2 Helene

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 05:21 PM

I saw Paris Opera Ballet perform "Palais de Cristal" in NYC in a 1980's tour. There were differences from "Symphony in C", but it was not totally reworked, although like any earlier version, it looks odd to people used to the NYCB version which they are used to. The POB men are more refined in it, in general, and when the emphases are different, the steps can look quite different. Thesmar was a guest at NYCB, and she received coaching from Balanchine, so she would have seen it from both sides.

You can see, for example, the high develope a la seconde in the Second Movement adagio in the NYCB version, where the man moves to the other side of the ballerina in an unsupported balance until he re-takes her hand, is done as a plain arabesque. That's not that drastic, theoretically, but when everyone is waiting for that one big balance, to see something else can make it seem like a lot has changed.

According to the Balanchine Catalogue:

Revisions: 1948, Ballet Society (titled Symphony in C): Original corps of 48 reduced, with doubling of corps members from movement to movement owing to limited size of company. New York City Ballet: By 1968, larger company eliminated duplication of cast, allowing full finale; 8 corps members in FIRST MOVEMENT instead of 6; by 1971, 8 corps members in FOURTH MOVEMENT for total cast of 52; 1971[?], musical repeat in FOURTH MOVEMENT, danced by FIRST MOVEMENT cast in exact repetition of FOURTH MOVEMENT cast steps (cut entirely at various times), completely rechoreographed for FIRST MOVEMENT cast. Male solos in FIRST and THIRD MOVEMENTS rechoreographed several times for various performers.


http://balanchine.or...rchMethod=exact

In "Le Palais de Cristal" each movement has a different color costume. It's been over 30 years, but I seem to remember rose, blue-green, yellow, and maybe cream. I don't remember black by the '80's -- it was obviously in the original photo with Toumanova --, but I could be remembering this all wrong.

The all-white was introduced when there was a lot of doubling up among the corps of the much smaller Ballet Society-turned-New York City Ballet. Francia Russell recalled for a Q&A that she had to switch crowns backstage, changing from soloist to corps, when she covered for a colleague.

#3 vipa

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 05:24 PM

I believe this is a segment from the wonderful film "Balanchine in Paris" made by Dominique Delouche. The film also has some wonderful scenes of Violette Verdy coaching.

EvilNinjaX, I don't have an answer to your question, but I hope someone has. I'd also like to know.

#4 Brioche

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 08:59 PM

This is fantastic! Talented indeed. That Mr. B could create two gorgeous pas to the same music is quite something. This "Palais" needs to be preserved on a commercial DVD. Ms. Thesmar, as always, is enchanting.

#5 atm711

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 06:55 AM

I saw Le Palais de Cristal for the first time when the POB was in NYC in the fall of 1947. Toumanova was not in that production. What has stayed with me all these years were two of the male dancers - Alexandre Kalioujny (1 mm) and Michel Renault (3mm). It was a letdown a few months later in 1948 seeing Ballet Society at the NYCity Center---for openers, the stage was too small and when the whole cast was on stage in the fourth movement, it was chaos. LeClercq was in the 2nd mm, but, for me, she did not have the quality of lushness that the part required----I saw some of that quality later with Allegra Kent. and even more so with Farrell, Part and Lopatkina.

Helene mentions the developee ala seconde in the 2ndmm. and how it changed into an arabesque----could it be that the foot to ear developee would make it hard for the male dancer to walk around her and take her other hand???

#6 rg

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 07:40 AM

with regard to the choreographic 'design' of the 2nd mov. duet, Bal. is on record noting that the ending used for PALAIS/SYM IN C was 're-cycled'/'borrowed' from himself, sinceit once concluded the pas de deux in the first version of his MOZARTIANA!

#7 Helene

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:03 AM

Helene mentions the developee ala seconde in the 2ndmm. and how it changed into an arabesque----could it be that the foot to ear developee would make it hard for the male dancer to walk around her and take her other hand???

That would be the one: struggling or falling off pointe there has become the neoclassical equivalent of losing balance in the "Rose Adagio.". I think it's in the "Dancing for Mr. B" video that there's a clip of Allegra Kent doing this balance, but her partner was Ludlow, and from everything I've read, he made the most difficult partnering look easy.

On the other hand, it's a much longer journey around the tutu and the leg extended in full arabesque than when the leg is extended a la second at ear level.

My two experiences with Le Palais de Cristal in the '80's was that one of the dancers who did Second Movement was the young Sylvie Guillem. (According to Wikipedia, she was 21 during those 1986 performances, and she just turned 47 last Thursday.) I had read that Balanchine was much taken with the 16-year-old Guillem, and her performance was the one to which I most looked forward. I'm not sure I've ever been more disappointed with any performance: I found her dull. Not cool and elegant, like Platel, who danced the next day, but just plain dull. I couldn't see anything -- physique, mystique, energy, attack, sweep, musicality -- that he might have seen.

My second experience was landing a ticket in a box for a Wednesday matinee performance, and the only other person in the box shrieked whenever Patrick Dupond blinked in the Third Movement. I still have the burn marks from where she glared at me for not sharing her enthusiasm.

#8 sandik

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:31 AM

Not cool and elegant, like Platel,


Oh, I loved Platel -- I didn't see her here, but the few times I did see her live were just fabulous!

#9 yiannisfrance

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 02:48 AM

I would hardly call Sylvie Guillem a "dull" dancer as she is considered as elegant and "cool" as any dancer can be, with an extraordinary diversity both in classical and modern dancing and she sure has personality on and off stage. I know that some people do not like her, but there can be no doubt that there is an era before and one after Sylvie Guillem. Most dancing schools around the world and most dancers single her out as a model (people like Vishneva, Zakharova, Lopatkina, Rojo, Cojocaru, Letestu etc) and she has inspired so many great choreographers and directors (Nureev, Bejart, Forsythe, Mats Ek, Maliphant, A. Kahn, Robert Wilson, Lepage etc). Give me more "dull" dancers like Sylvie and I will never complain about a single "dull" moment in a theater again> When she portrayed her Manon at La Scala at the end of January 2011 beginninings of February she rbought the house down and everyone in the theater was transfixed by awe and emotion> And she has proved in her latest show "Sylvie Guillem 6000 miles away" (which will be presented in New York in the spring) that she remains on top form and still inspires great choreographers around the world

#10 Quiggin

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 11:26 AM

Towards the end Ghislaine Thesmar seemed to go into some detail about the origins of the ballet and one movement being in jet black, emeralds, diamonds, rubies, running out of money, Stravinsky and Balanchine "as thick as thieves" etc - much of which didn't seem to be translated. Did anyone catch the whole commentary in French?

Really a lovely, very special master class.

#11 carbro

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 10:41 PM

As I was learning about the history of NYCB, I had come to believe, just intuitively, that the Adagio Movement of Symphony in C was a direct evocation of Tanaquil LeClercq, whom I'd never seen dance in person or, to that point, on film. It was puzzling, because I knew that the ballet was not originally created on NYCB dancers. When I saw Palais de Cristal, at the same time that Helene did, I understood how that intuition about LeClercq might yet be valid. The choreography for the lead dancers of the two 2nd Movements were actually very different. Symphony in C's is perhaps the most organic choreography I've ever seen, in the sense that it is a continuous unfolding of itself into itself. Palais doesn't develop that way.

I've seen the film from which this was taken. I loved seeing Thesmar (whom I remember from her visits to NYCB, when she danced in Concerto Barocco and In G Major) coaching this section of Palais, I loved even more the section where Violette Verdy coached Lucia Lacarra and Cyril Pierre in Liebeslieder Walzer, possibly reedited and recycled from the same Liebeslieder sessions that were featured in Violette et Mr. B. Watching it again in this new context, where it followed the section about Thesmar coaching Palais de Cristal, I couldn't help but imagine what it must be like to be one of those dancers. Verdy lets them dance four or five phrases, all the while saying, "Oui! Oui!" or sighing a deeply satisfied, "La!" before giving corrections, at one point saying, "I hate to stop you, because you are so beautiful." Wow! Talk about positive reinforcement! What an inspiring coach she is!

#12 sandik

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 10:12 AM

Verdy lets them dance four or five phrases, all the while saying, "Oui! Oui!" or sighing a deeply satisfied, "La!" before giving corrections, at one point saying, "I hate to stop you, because you are so beautiful." Wow! Talk about positive reinforcement! What an inspiring coach she is!


It was great to watch her coach Emeralds here at Pacific Northwest Ballet a couple years ago -- she got such stunning results from positive reinforcement.

#13 Helene

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 10:38 AM

Reading "Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear" I was shocked at the amount of positive reinforcement from almost all of the stagers and choreographers who worked with PNB that season. I always expect to read that choreographers are a cross between Jerome Robbins and the Daniel Levans character in "The Turning Point".

Verdy seems to get such pleasure from seeing the dancers bloom when she coaches.

#14 EvilNinjaX

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 06:09 PM

I believe this is a segment from the wonderful film "Balanchine in Paris" made by Dominique Delouche. The film also has some wonderful scenes of Violette Verdy coaching.

EvilNinjaX, I don't have an answer to your question, but I hope someone has. I'd also like to know.


I believe that the Ghislaine Thesmar coaching vid is the only one that is not duplicated in one of the other Dominique Delouche Etoiles Pour L'exemple films. The 2 Violette Verdy vids are from Violette et Mr. B and Comme Les Oiseaux, IIRC.

Though the DVD also has the very nice Journal D'Une Choreographie with Patrick Dupond and John Neumeier. Moderately worth the purchase for someone that already has the 1-4 (or 5) series.


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