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Dancers and characters in Balanchine's Apollo

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The Cuban ballet images are fascinating - thanks Cubanmiamiboy! They are definitely preserving an older version of the ballet for posterity: a happy accident.

Well, it was not such accident per se. The story goes that the Trust send Alonso a formal notice asking her 1-To remove her 40's, unlicensed version, and 2-To aquire a license to restage the modern one, to which she responded..."No way, Jose!".

There is also a "Waltz Academy" roaming around over there in the same chord, FYI...

So, to be certain...will I see at least the stairs in MCB Apollo...?

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Well, it was not such accident per se. The story goes that the Trust send Alonso a formal notice asking her 1-To remove her 40's, unlicensed version, and 2-To aquire a license to restage the modern one, to which she responded..."No way, Jose!".

This brings up a really interesting point - is the Balanchine Trust only approving the last version of each Balanchine ballet? That would be kind of crazy actually, as there can be a number of interesting versions. I'm not sure that Balanchine even thought in terms of 'better', but rather, each version was a fresh take on the initial concept. I recall that the Mariisnky Ballet got away with restructuring "Emeralds", so I can't believe that the Trust is all that particular. The issue would be more about having an approved stager who knows a version thoroughly, and that could be very difficult with pre-1960s ballets.

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The issue would be more about having an approved stager who knows a version thoroughly, and that could be very difficult with pre-1960s ballets.

The issue being here that this Apollo, just like every single staging done in Havana, from Giselle to William Dollar's "Le Combat", has had a carbon-copy continuity from its very first performances.

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No, other companies perform/have performed the full version recently. Until this year, PNB performed Francia Russell's staging; Peter Boal decided to stage the version he knew and danced last season. I've seen the long version with Ballet Arizona (2004, 2009 with "Nymphs") Royal Ballet of Flanders (2008, no names in program for the two women), Dance Theatre of Harlem (2004, "Nymphs") and San Francisco Ballet (2004, "Mother" instead of "Leto," and "Handmaidens".) Francia Russell is staging the full version for Oregon Ballet Theatre this coming season.

Balanchine himself endorsed Russell's plan to stage the versions she knew from her time at NYCB and early work as a hand-picked stager, and in the "Six Ballerinas" documentary, Maria Tallchief recalls how she told him she was staging the version of "Agon" that she knew, and he told her that was right.

The only public story I've heard about a specific version of the choreography being forced was when John Taras was alive and owned the rights to "Symphony in C." He insisted on a specific version of one of the sections, and Peter Martins refused.

At the latest lecture demo at PNB, the most fascinating part of the presentation was when dancers did excerpts of new and old versions of Balanchine ballets side-by-side.

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So, to be certain...will I see at least the stairs in MCB Apollo...?

I'd bet on it. Their Balanchine Swan Lake was a faithful one; and when I first saw the company, at the Ravinia Festival, with Apollo on the program, it not only was the "stairs" version, it was so good - seen from the 34th row, but nevertheless - it persuaded me to look into visiting them in Florida. (I'd never heard of the leads - Ileana Lopez and Franklin Gamaro - but I came to enjoy a lot of their dancing in subsequent years...) I expect to see their Program I this Fall.

... I recall that the Mariisnky Ballet got away with restructuring "Emeralds"

Not to get too far OT, but I'm curious about what they did. I think I can recall three versions of the sequence of movements.

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Not to get too far OT, but I'm curious about what they did. I think I can recall three versions of the sequence of movements.

This commentator explains things pretty well: "The Mariinsky has cut the extraordinarily beautiful finale Balanchine incorporated around 1976 to the very moving music for death of Mélisande in Fauré's Pélleas et Melisande. It changes the "take-away" character of the piece from what is shown here as just another allegro finale, to one of rapt melancholy, as dancers, almost one-by-one take leave of the stage, finally leaving only three of the boys walking diagonally across the stage to the front, and finally coming to rest in a genuflection with an arm outstretched beseeching? in awe? the courtain slowly falling. Very apt conclusion, very moving if somewhat mysterious, somewhat analogous in feeling to the soloist carried aloft at the end of Serenade. To see this ending, arguably Balanchine's final thought on Emeralds ("arguably" because Balanchine was a known tinkerer with his pieces,.e.g. Apollo) you need to see the Paris Opera Ballet performance."

Since the commentator mentions Balanchine tinkering on Apollo, I figure that puts us back on topic. ;)

Thanks for all the information about Balanchine stagers, Helene.

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It sounds like the Mariinsky used the original ending.

When PNB did "Emeralds for the first time, the majority of the audience thought it ended there, with good reason. Balanchine also added a solo for the second female soloist.

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Interesting. Any word as to the Mariinsky's order of variations? I thought, originally, Paul's was first, then Verdy's; it was following Verdy's retirement Balanchine reversed their order, putting her "Spinner" variation first, right after the ensemble, and adding the death-of-Melisande movement at the very end. (A gesture of farewell to Verdy? Sad to see her go, I felt it lugubrious at the time.)

I agree with Helene that the ballet seemed to come quite naturally to its end where it did originally.

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I've only watched the Mariinsky version on DVD, which left me confused at the time about what was going on. The lovely, enigmatic ending was missing (that's how I saw it), but I also recall some other change to the order and it may have been the order of solos. I've wondered ever since if the Russian audience didn't find Emeralds a bit lacking and incoherent (and they wouldn't have realized that it could look rather different).

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