SimonA

Heading to NYPL: Which Balanchine videos are must sees?

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In a couple weeks, I'll have about 6 hours of time to devote to Balanchine videos at the NYPL and would like to ask for the board's recommendations. Obviously, I'd like to focus on ballets not (well) represented in commercial releases (that nonetheless I'll be able to watch at the library w/o special permission). I have a few in mind, which I'll list below, but would love to get people's thoughts on which videos in the collection are "must sees."

To narrow the field a bit, these are the few non-commercial videos I've already seen: the 1982 Agon (Watts/Tomlinson), the CBC Liebeslieder (Verdy, et al.), the Kirkland-Baryshnikov Theme and Variations, the 1990 Serenade, the 1973 Concerto Barocco, the Baryshnikov Apollo.

And here's a tentative list of what I think I'd like to see -- but, please, I'd love to get your input!

-Apollo (1982), with Martins, Farrell, Nichols, Calegari

-Don Quixote (1965)

-Concerto Barocco (1956), with Le Clerq, Adams

-Symphony in C (there are appear to be a number of videos from '82 and '83 with Farrell in the Adagio role).

Thanks!

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There was a color film of Allegra Kent and Conrad Ludlow in the second movement of Symphony in C that was excerpted in the "Dancing for Mr. B" documentary that, if they have it, would be on my list after the Liebeslieder, which you've seen, and the Concerto Barocco on your list. (There was also a black and white version in the Balanchine bio of Kent in Symphony in C that I liked less.)

I'm not sure how much more of the Tallchief Firebird there is than what was shown in the Balanchine bio, but that would be interesting. There was also a documentary that PNB screened a few years ago in which Dianne Chilgren played a piano arrangement of La Valse to a performance of Leclerq made by an audience member in live performance (without sound).

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the FIREBIRD and LA VALSE films mentioned above (and, for that matter, SYLVIA PAS DE DEUX and LA SOURCE) , all originally silent, have been re-tracked w/ sound (Chilgren on piano) for a series called SILENCE TO SOUND, which should be in the collection and available for viewing on the premises.

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I've enjoyed looking back at early performances of Symphony in 3 Movements.

Another gem: Baryshnikov at the White House (1979). He performs several excerpts with McBride (Harlequinade, Other Dances, Tarantella) and one with Watts (Rubies).

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Simon:

Here is the NYC library site. Type Balanchine videos into search and you will get a long list. Most are followed by the notation

"in-library use only, in some locations". They are all at the Lincoln Center Branch.

www.nypl.org

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the FIREBIRD and LA VALSE films mentioned above (and, for that matter, SYLVIA PAS DE DEUX and LA SOURCE) , all originally silent, have been re-tracked w/ sound (Chilgren on piano) for a series called SILENCE TO SOUND, which should be in the collection and available for viewing on the premises.

This is on my list, for my next visit.

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Thank you, everyone, for your input!

the FIREBIRD and LA VALSE films mentioned above (and, for that matter, SYLVIA PAS DE DEUX and LA SOURCE) , all originally silent, have been re-tracked w/ sound (Chilgren on piano) for a series called SILENCE TO SOUND, which should be in the collection and available for viewing on the premises.

These Tallchief and Le Clerq videos sound tantalizing, indeed.

There was a color film of Allegra Kent and Conrad Ludlow in the second movement of Symphony in C that was excerpted in the "Dancing for Mr. B" documentary that, if they have it, would be on my list after the Liebeslieder, which you've seen, and the Concerto Barocco on your list. (There was also a black and white version in the Balanchine bio of Kent in Symphony in C that I liked less.)

Unfortunately, I could only find what appears to be the B&W excerpt of Kent/Ludlow in Symphony in C in the NYPL catalog.

Could anyone suggest a favorite Symphony in C video? Otherwise, I'll just go with one of the Farrell-era versions.

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The 1946 recording of The Four Temperaments might be something to see. Also some of the Ann Barzel footage of Ballet Russe & early NYCB performances. From the library catalogue -

[Keyword: Ann Barzel Collection http://catalog.nypl....rzel%26SORT%3DD ]

Four Temperaments: Theme 1 / danced by Beatrice Tompkins and José Martines -- Theme 2 / danced by Elise Reiman and Lew Christensen -- Theme 3 / danced by Gisella Caccialanza and Francisco Moncion -- First variation: Melancholic / danced by William Dollar, Georgia Hiden and Rita Karlin -- Second variation: Sanguinic / danced by Mary Ellen Moylan and Fred Danieli -- Third variation : Phlegmatic (not included) - Fourth variation: Choleric / danced by Tanaquil Le Clercq and ensemble. *MGZHB 12-1637
Ballet imperial (ca. 6 min., b&w and col.) / recorded in two performances, ca. 1944 ; choreography, George Balanchine ; scenery and costumes, Mstislav Doboujinsky ; danced by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo: Mary Ellen Moylan, Maria Tallchief, Nicholas Magallanes, and others.

La concurrence (ca. 1 min., b&w) / recorded in performance, ca. 1936 ; choreography, George Balanchine ; libretto, scenery, and costumes, André Derain ; danced by the Original Ballet Russe.

Theme and variations (ca. 11 min., col. and b&w) / the first 10 1/2 min. recorded in several performances in 1947, and edited for continuity, with some repetition ; the final 15 sec. recorded ca. 1949 ; choreography, George Balanchine ; scenery and costumes, Woodman Thompson ; danced by Ballet Theatre ; first segment led by Alicia Alonso and Igor Youskevitch ; final segment led by Maria Tallchief.

Danses concertantes (ca. 6 min., b&w) / recorded in performance in 1945 ; choreography, George Balanchine ; scenery and costumes, Eugene Berman ; danced by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo: Alexandra Danilova, Leon Danielian, Maria Tallchief, Mary Ellen Moylan, Nicholas Magallanes, and others.

Added & perhaps most important of all: an earlier Mozartiana (approx. 6 min., b&w). Chor: George

Balanchine. Filmed at Chicago Opera House, 1945. Perf. by Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo: Alexandra Danilova, Frederic Franklin, Dorothy Etheridge, Maria Tallchief, Stanley Zompakos, Pauline Goddard, Gertrude Tyven, others.

*MGZIC 9-3608 *MGZHB 12-2533

Balanchine. Filmed at Chicago Opera House, 1945. Perf. by Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo: Alexandra Danilova, Frederic Franklin, Dorothy Etheridge, Maria Tallchief, Stanley Zompakos, Pauline Goddard, Gertrude Tyven, others. -- Serenade (approx. 10 min., b&w). Chor: Balanchine. Filmed at Auditorium Theater, Chicago, 1940, and Chicago Opera House, 1944. Perf. by Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. 1940 cast led by Natalie Krassovska, Marc Platoff, and Igor Youskevitch. 1944 cast led by Ruthanna Boris, Leon Danielian, Mary Ellen Moylan, and Nicholas Magallanes. -- Le baiser de la fée (approx. 6 min., b&w). Chor: Balanchine. Filmed at the Auditorium Theater, Chicago, 1940, and Chicago Opera House, 1946. Perf. by Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. 1940 cast led by Danilova (fairy), Eglevsky (bridegroom), and Mia Slavenska (bride). 1944 cast led by Maria Tallchief (fairy), Franklin (bridegroom), and Marie-Jeanne (bride).*MGZIC 9-3608 *MGZHB 12-2533

Some footage of LeClerq and Tallchief in La Valse & Firebird are available at Jacob's Pillow:

http://danceinteract...car=/artist/k-l

http://danceinteract.../era/1950--1959

Firebird is incredible - as intense (and "interior") as anything Farrell did later on.

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How about a Apollo with Jacques d'Amboise, Farrell, Govrin, Neary and von Aroldingen? I've seen excerpts of it on BBC television (most notably in Darcey Bussell's farewell special...one of them) but have never managed to locate the whole thing.

For something fun, how about a 16mm rehearsal film of Rubies with McBride, Villella and Morris, performing against two pianos? It can be a bit blurry, and the thing's in brown and yellow (black and white is a luxury for us plebes) depending on how the projector feels that day, but I've never see Rubies performed with such speed, vivacity and (weeps at inability to come up with words).

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Let me second Quiggin's list - -ANYTHING with Mary Ellen Moylan --

Not that i've seen them, but those I didn't know were there and she's legendary and i've never seen footage of her except in the dance of hte sugar-plum fairy.

What I HAVE seen there that you should see in your 6 hours is Violettte Verdy in Tchaikovsky pdd.

Also Farrell in the CBC Concerto Barocco with Conrad Ludlow -- visionary. Contrast her and leclercq -- Tanny makes hte adage a sunny happy thing, Suzanne takes a whole minute longer and it's tragic. Both are valid. AMAZING.

And Tanny in Western symphony [4th movement] -- kick ass hilarious.

ANd check out Balanchine as Drosselmeyer in his first Nutcracker.

Happy viewing.

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I'd like to see Villella's "Tarantella" performance from Dance In America (I think)... and how about that "Midsummer Nights Dream" with Farrell as Titania? Also, d'Amboise in "Stars & Stripes" for the 1964 Lincoln Center opening performance... was shown at Wall-to-wall Balanchine festival, I believe... (Not sure if they are in the NYPL catalogue but worth checking for...)

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I added the 1946 Mozartiana to the Ann Barzel list above - which is supposed to be close to the 1933 version Eliott Carter thought was one of Balanchine's finest works. I agree with Paul Parish about Mary Ann Moylan based on the clips in Ann Belle's Dancing for Mr B.

Perhaps this topic should stay open and added to by anyone who sees any of these rare films and wants to add some commentary and notes for those of us who don't have access or, more luckily, may follow.

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I'd like to see Villella's "Tarantella" performance from Dance In America (I think)... and how about that "Midsummer Nights Dream" with Farrell as Titania? Also, d'Amboise in "Stars & Stripes" for the 1964 Lincoln Center opening performance... was shown at Wall-to-wall Balanchine festival, I believe... (Not sure if they are in the NYPL catalogue but worth checking for...)

The Tarantella is likely from the batch of 1973 RM Productions recordings. The NYPL have a set of three on DVD (though the library does not seem to hold all extant recordings from that series) which also included Serenade, Duo Concertant (non-granitine Martins and Kay Mazzo) and Tarantella. There is another Tarantella from the Carter White House, but it's Baryshnikov/McBride in a very confined space.

Barzel's tapes are an amazing resource, but do keep in mind that they are silent and often shot at very odd angles. Jack and I were at the Chicago Public Library and saw Tanaquil LeClercq in a rare clip from Symphony in C (when she bows down, her arms are up, like a welcoming hostess's curtesy, instead of the palms down arms of a woman in submission). It was a silent revelation, but does require a sharp eye and a pretty good idea of where you are in the music.

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Editing this list as I find them...

The Adams/Leclercq Concerto Barocco is MGZIDVD 5-118.

The Western Symphony (Adams/Bliss, Hayden/Magallanes, Kent/Barnett, LeClercq/d'Amboise) is MGZIA 4-7661.

Dances at a gathering (looks like a theater recording of the original cast?) MGZIA 4-6933 JRC

Midsummer Night's Dream: *MGZIDVD 5-5995 Disc 1 and Disc 2

--

And Quiggin, I agree. The NYPL catalogue is annoying to use. Now there's an interesting project, cross referencing relevant archival Balanchines for interested viewers, I mean.

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The mid-60s films of Don Q and Midsummer are particularly good choices, not least for the great dancing of their large casts, but there are a couple of surprises:

Act I and Act III after scene i of Don Q may still be afflicted with a strong buzz in the audio, which interfered with the experience at first when the film was premiered at the Kennedy Center a few years ago. It's a steady noise, though, and I found I could adapt to it, tune it out, and enjoy the performance anyway. Alternatively, depending, in my experience, how the equipment is working during your NYPL visit, you may be able to skip around in the recording, and omit parts. (Or repeat favorites!)

The Midsummer recording Farrell presented at the Baryshnikov Arts Center a few years ago had only a minor technical quirk - it was a half-tone sharp, and therefore about 4% fast, maybe hardly noticeable - but it had a wonderful concluding fountain scene, never mounted in a theater as far as I know, but performed only in the downtown studio where the film was made.

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I just returned from New York and wanted to share a few observations from my visit to the NYPL. I watched fewer videos than I hoped, mainly because I kept re-watching the Farrell/Ludlow Concerto Barocco. Truly a sublime performance.

That Farrell/Morris/Ludlow Concerto Barocco is available at the library on a stand-alone videocassette (MGZIC 9-1022) and a cassette entitled "Le New York City Ballet," that also includes Glinkaiana: Divertimento Brillante (McBride/Villella) and Apollo (Martins, Farrell, Morris, von Aroldingen) (MZIC 9-1777 and MGZHB 20-454). Unfortunately, the cassette (MZIC 9-1777) had a thick static line just above ankle height through all the performances that was very distracting. I did not see the other copy (MGZHB 20-454), and it may not have the same issue. The video on the stand-alone cassette of Concerto Barocco (MGZIC 9-1022) was faded but otherwise fine.

The Adams/Le Clerq Concerto Barocco (MGZIDVD 5-118) was in great shape. Crystal clear video. And, as Paul Parish observed, what a wonderful comparison with the Farrell video.

The 1966 BBC Apollo with d'Amboise, Farrell, Govrin, Neary, and von Aroldingen (MGZIA 4-4106 RNC) was also in great shape. The picture is bright and sharp, and the performance was filmed against a white background with minimally intrusive camera work, so everything comes through with great clarity. There's also some wonderful rehearsal footage with both Balanchine and Stravinsky.

The Martins Apollo on the "Le New York City Ballet" cassette, which I referenced above, is not as well-served on film, aside from the static issue. It's much more darkly shot, with more "cinematic effects," like the use of shadow and close-ups. It's not overly distracting, but it's not as "clean" as the BBC Apollo film. The final pose on the staircase, for example, is all in shadow, except for light emanating from the dancers' limbs.

The Farrell performance is similar on both films. The point of comparison is, obviously, d'Amboise and Martins. I preferred d'Amboise: wilder, more impetuous, with a stronger transformation. Martins, much more controlled, is already the archetypal god-figure from birth.

The 1967 Midsummer Night's Dream at the library (MGZIDVD 5-5955) is not a great print. It looks like it was transferred to DVD with the left and right margins cut off. I thought it may have been a playback issue, but switching from 4:3 to 16:9 mode didn't fix it. (I did not notice the pitch issue Jack mentioned, but I don't have perfect pitch.) That being said, it doesn't lose too much of the picture, and I still was able to enjoy the performance. What a treat to be able to watch Farrell, Villella, Mitchell, Kent, d'Amboise, et al., in this.

There's so much else that I didn't have time to see! Can't wait to come back.

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That's a great report, SimonA! It never occurred to me that there would be such a variation in the quality of the tapes, as opposed to the filming.

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