Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Dancers and characters in Balanchine's ApolloIdentifying dancers and characters


  • Please log in to reply
33 replies to this topic

#16 Quiggin

Quiggin

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 839 posts

Posted 09 August 2012 - 12:49 AM

S. L. Grigoriev in 1953 remembers Apollo this way - with swaddling instead of diapers and with Leto on a rock:

In contast to Ode, Apollon Musagete was a great success ... Diaghilev was also very well pleased with Balanchine’s choreography. It had some rather ugly patches; but on the whole it was very well composed and consistently interesting. The ballet had no proper story. Indeed it was described on the programme as a piece without a plot.

... It was a mere succession of dances which the birth of Apollo was perhaps the most effective. His mother Leto was seen standing on a rock, beneath which was a grotto, and from this Apollo emerged in swaddling bands, of which he was then divested by a pair of goddesses.


Here are some stills of the 1928 production from Gallica.fr. In the first Lifar is turning away from Terpsichore, in contrast to Jacques d'Amboise in the 1960 Radio-Canada film. Danilova is perfection.

http://gallica.bnf.f...32119.r=.langEN

http://gallica.bnf.f...3200h.r=.langEN

http://gallica.bnf.f...3208t.r=.langEN

& an unusual photo from the Apollo program of Balanchine on a rooftop - E.T.A. Hoffmannish - in Germany? Added: I just came across another still from the same photo shoot - it's from Triumph of Neptune.

http://gallica.bnf.f...usses%22.langEN

#17 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,256 posts

Posted 09 August 2012 - 12:23 PM

Here are some stills of the 1928 production from Gallica.fr. In the first Lifar is turning away from Terpsichore, in contrast to Jacques d'Amboise in the 1960 Radio-Canada film. Danilova is perfection.

Thanks very much for the image links, Quiggin. The Muses are hanging on for dear life!
http://gallica.bnf.f...3208t.r=.langEN
And the Balanchine image is hilarious. He looks like a Parisian dandy in the top hat.

I have a tiny image of the 1928 finale end pose, and there a rock is visible on stage - with a nice sun chariot mounted on the stage backdrop. Whether that little hill served as both Leto's rock and Mount Parnassus remains a mystery to me.
Posted Image

It's always interesting to see so many different approaches to specific portions of the choreography (which of course was changing over the years as well). It really doesn't take much to alter the spirit/emotion of things as well as the symbolic meanings.

#18 Paul Parish

Paul Parish

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,925 posts

Posted 09 August 2012 - 04:38 PM

THANK YOU THANK YOU HTANK YOU.
WONDERFUL images. New to me, and well, let's just say you've certainly made my day, QUiggin and Pheranc

WHAT IN THE WORLD is going on at hte foot of the mountain in the apotheosis? Looks like Pluto has arrived and upended the handmaidens....

#19 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,256 posts

Posted 09 August 2012 - 06:54 PM

Hello Paul:

I *think* Leto returns at the finale with the two handmaidens and they pose at the bottom of the stairs/Mt. Parnassus. I'm not certain if Leto is the one who leans back and is supported by a handmaiden.
I don't have a clean image of this configuration, but you can see another view here:
Posted Image

Personally, I love this enigmatic ending, as it fits with Stravinsky's apothéose score so beautifully. I love the pose of the Muses with bent leg en pointe. A great moment in art.

#20 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,269 posts

Posted 09 August 2012 - 08:16 PM

In Cuba we inherited Apollo sans tights and with the headcaps for the muses, along with the rocky scenary.

Here's Eglevsky with Marjorie Tallchief, Barbara Fallis and Mme. Alonso as Terpsichore, 1946.

Posted Image




Posted Image

#21 Paul Parish

Paul Parish

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,925 posts

Posted 09 August 2012 - 08:39 PM

Thanks, Pheranc -- to me that looks likea revision, and not just a different moment in an evolving tableau -- in the 1928 picture, it looks like one of hte handmaidens is in handstand, with her head close to the knees of thekneeling person, and the big-haired person stands in the front of their triangle, facing away from Parnassus [as if she were sliding hte goddess down hte hatch, off to Hades? but that would be another ballet, 'persephone' ;)] anyway, s/he is definitely facing away from the big picture, supporting the legs of the upended goddess at hte calf -- no?

Christian, thanks for that wonderful picture -- who are they? THe second muse looks like Lorena Feijoo maybe have looked 20 years ago.

#22 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,269 posts

Posted 10 August 2012 - 07:20 AM

I think it is Feijoo, Paul. It amazes me how different the look of the ballet is when one compares that picture with those of the revised version. It is literally like watching another ballet. With no rocky props, the muses without the headdresses and simpler tunics, Apollo sans his tunic and sandals, and now with a ballet tight and no birth and ascension to Parnassus scenes, I don't know if I will even recognize it. I haven't seen the ballet in US, but for the pictures it looks very foreign to me. I'm also 99% certain that even the stylistic treatment of what I will see is different from the 1940's version Alonso retained in Cuba, and even probably different steps here and there too. It is a shame that there are not filmed clips of the Cuban version for me to compare it, because I'm not that familiar with the ballet the way I am with, let's say, Giselle, which I'm able to see whatever little changes take place from the modern versions I've seen to the Markova/Dolin staging presented by Alonso in her company. Still, I can tell right away that this is a different animal.

BTW...why would have been the rationale for Balanchine to cover Apollo's legs with tights for the revised version...? Posted Image

#23 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,256 posts

Posted 10 August 2012 - 12:08 PM

BTW...why would have been the rationale for Balanchine to cover Apollo's legs with tights for the revised version...? Posted Image

Balanchine seems to be treating Apollo increasingly as a 'black and white' ballet, bringing it closer to Agon than Prodigal Son. More minimal, more primal, more pure. So it became a 'leotard' ballet that's just about the steps.

The Cuban ballet images are fascinating - thanks Cubanmiamiboy! They are definitely preserving an older version of the ballet for posterity: a happy accident. A bit like all the old American cars in Havana. Also, I see the danseur is wearing the same sort of leggings that Lew Christensen wore in the 1940s.

http://www.burntscar...Christensen.jpg

Now for a different take on costumes: I happened upon these photos online (they may not be available long)

http://www.pendullum...lo/P1010167.JPG

http://www.pendullum...lo/P1010163.JPG

http://www.pendullum...lo/P1010061.JPG

#24 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,533 posts

Posted 10 August 2012 - 12:13 PM

... ... ...

I *think* Leto returns at the finale with the two handmaidens and they pose at the bottom of the stairs/Mt. Parnassus. I'm not certain if Leto is the one who leans back and is supported by a handmaiden.
I don't have a clean image of this configuration, but you can see another view here:


I've always taken that to be Leto with the handmaidens; and Mason interprets her pose this way:

Leto, Apollo's mother, falls back in the arms of his handmaidens as she reaches up to her son in farewell.


But as for your image, pherank, it looks like the source of the first of d'Amboise's three sketches (pp. 188-9 of his book), complete with that striking chariot in the sky, except that he doesn't render all of the confusion Paul notes among the three dancers at the base of the rock, although he scrupulously shows the dark hair of the one who looks away from the tableau on it; indeed he omits the seated one.

I think now the dancer in the middle of the group in the 1928 image, with both arms extremely raised, is Leto, the dancer having lost the plot for the moment (Balanchine's penchant for barely sufficient rehearsal perhaps being already evident at this early date), or, to be more charitable, maybe the more familiar gesture, reaching toward her son, had not yet been set; and the dark-haired girl in the back of the group facing our left is, for the moment, in worse trouble, looking to me as though she, like Paul, is wondering what's going on, or, what's much the same thing, what her part in it is.

(d'Amboise's second sketch shows the same moment in another decor, the four principals having ascended a huge tree trunk in the shape of a triangle, much like the stair and its support to come later, and he has merely indicated three arms extended toward the principal group from a clump of figures at lower left. Behind the principals and their - structure - is a spare development of large branches of another tree. I thought it might be worth inserting this in case somebody runs across a photo of this decor, too!)

#25 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,533 posts

Posted 10 August 2012 - 12:36 PM

Balanchine seems to be treating Apollo increasingly as a 'black and white' ballet, bringing it closer to Agon than Prodigal Son. More minimal, more primal, more pure. So it became a 'leotard' ballet that's just about the steps.


No, it didn't go that far, no leotards, not quite. But yes, Stravinsky's music gave Balanchine a pivotal idea:

In its discipline and restraint, in its sustained oneness of tone and feeling, the score was a revelation. I seemed to tell me that I could, for the first time, dare not use all my ideas; that I, too, could eliminate. I began to see how I could clarify, by limiting, by reducing what seemed to be myriad possibilities to the one possibility that is inevitable.


I'd say, rather, the leotard ballets which followed from time to time owed something to this source, perhaps. Whether the leotard ballets are all only just about the steps is, I think, up to us. As far as he was concerned, I mean. There's certainly plenty of pantomime in Apollo itself, though I wouldn't imply that it's just a story - that ending, for one thing, its sense of infinity or eternity. If this is a story, all we've got of it here is the beginning, and their ascent is the end of the beginning. (Leto may be bereft, but in awe as well. Aren't we?)

#26 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,269 posts

Posted 10 August 2012 - 02:33 PM

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...?

#27 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,256 posts

Posted 10 August 2012 - 03:29 PM

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.

#28 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,269 posts

Posted 10 August 2012 - 03:42 PM

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.

#29 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,328 posts

Posted 10 August 2012 - 03:46 PM

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.

#30 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,533 posts

Posted 10 August 2012 - 04:25 PM

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.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):