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Bolshoi performance of Balanchine's "Jewels", 2012


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#16 rg

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 05:47 AM

Re: BALLET IMPERIAL and double-saut de basque - i believe these were taken out by Balanchine himself when he revised the choreography as TCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2, the 'doubles' were in a different place (where i believe the fouette turns now come) from where the singles are today, tho' ABT chose to use the former BALLET IMPERIAL title, the Trust no doubt insisted on the latest, the TPC2, version of the choreography, where the doubles were not in place. also, perhaps Tallchief misremembered where the famous/infamous doubles wein any case they were part of the choreography for the secondary female lead, not the lead.

#17 jsmu

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 01:00 PM

Re: BALLET IMPERIAL and double-saut de basque - i believe these were taken out by Balanchine himself when he revised the choreography as TCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2, the 'doubles' were in a different place (where i believe the fouette turns now come) from where the singles are today, tho' ABT chose to use the former BALLET IMPERIAL title, the Trust no doubt insisted on the latest, the TPC2, version of the choreography, where the doubles were not in place. also, perhaps Tallchief misremembered where the famous/infamous doubles were once were set. in any case they were part of the choreography for the secondary female lead, not the lead.

They may well have been taken out by Balanchine; he was known to revise and recast his choreography. However, as in his cutting of Apollo, this was not always a good thing; fortunately, the Balanchine stagers usually allow any version which was 'legitimately done', particularly the original version--unless the Trust has now become even more rigidly self-important, which is always a possibility. The double saut de basques were NOT part of the choreography for the second ballerina; Marie-Jeanne and Moira Shearer, who both danced the ballerina role brilliantly according to Balanchine, both recall them in addition to Tallchief specifically mentioning them.

#18 jsmu

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 01:06 PM

In addition, so far as I know, ABT still does 'Ballet Imperial' (as do MCB and PNB) which is by no stretch the same ballet as TPC#2, and it ain't just the lack of sets and costumes.

Therefore, Tallchief was probably staging that ballet, which did have the double saut de basques; many companies seem to prefer Ballet Imperial.

pherank, if you view the video of Western Symphony which has just been mentioned elsewhere in this same section of Ballet Talk, you see that schmaltz and goo were by no means always 'show biz', and that Balanchine's dancers in the Fifties had joie de vivre, brilliant technique, candor--and no goo. Re Kirkland complaining about Theme--I believe this was because she was so extremely hard on herself, and because she was one of the few ballerinas I've ever seen perform the entire ballet with brilliance and overwhelming beauty. Her performance with Baryshnikov can still be seen now and then on YouTube. it is breathtaking.



#19 rg

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 01:26 PM

i stand corrected and have removed my erroneous suggestion of which member of the BALLET IMPERIAL cast was known to have been given double saut de basque choreography to execute.
don't know where my mind was but it wasn't 'on the mark.'
my comments were not meant to judge or prefer a particular version of BALLET IMPERIAL/TCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2, only to wonder if the reason the double s-d-b steps were not set was that the version being staged for ABT was the later one.
re: Tallchief, i'm don't have in front of me ABT's full credits, but i don't think she was responsible for the ballet's staging pverall at ABT, but rather, perhaps, that she was brought in for coaching and/or commentary once it was set by another Trust stager, before it was first presented by the company.
as Peter Boal quoted Balanchine's saying about his cutting of APOLLO at the recent PNB sessions at the Guggenheim's Works & Process: It's my ballet and i can do what i want to it.
whatever the Trust decides to do these days is likely based on its view of Balanchine's wishes.
one can prefer/argue which 'version' is the most effective, etc. but if the stager is sent to mount version X there's not much point missing details of version Y.
if mem. serves - and it's clear the service hasn't been very good lately in my case - the double s-d-b were recalled at the Balanchine's interpreter's archive session led by Marie Jeanne, who was rivetting even if/when she couldn't precisely rem. details, all this for a tape, which, alas, i don't think ever got finished for lack of enough material to edit (Taras was also on hand to to work w/ Marie Jeanne).
bottom line? i think ABT dances the TPC#2 version of Balanchine's choreography under the original title of BALLET IMPERIAL.
i think MCB does similarly, w/ TPC#2's costume scheme, that is chiffon shifts where tutus once were worn, as well - but again this is an assumption on my part. MCB regulars would know for certain.

#20 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 01:34 PM

i think ABT dances the TPC#2 version of Balanchine's choreography under the original title of BALLET IMPERIAL.
i think MCB does similarly, w/ TPC#2's costume scheme, that is chiffon shifts where tutus once were worn, as well - but again this is an assumption on my part. MCB regulars would know for certain.


You're right, rg. I never saw either version before coming to Miami, but the work here is presented with the chiffon costumes and under the "Ballet Imperial" title.

#21 pherank

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 02:00 PM

Re Kirkland complaining about Theme--I believe this was because she was so extremely hard on herself, and because she was one of the few ballerinas I've ever seen perform the entire ballet with brilliance and overwhelming beauty. Her performance with Baryshnikov can still be seen now and then on YouTube. it is breathtaking.

Note that my comment was only on Kirkland's general attitude about Balanchine and his ballets (coming from her own statements), not her artistic/physical abilities. I've seen the "T & V" video myself (many times), and it's a great performance, indeed.

"...The backlash focused in great part on Balanchine, who was, of course, not present to defend himself, and one of its loudest voices was that of Gelsey Kirkland, a former New York City Ballet dancer...Her bitterness about Balanchine I found most curious.
Balanchine recognized her talent. He promoted her, choreographed for her, and encouraged her in every way, as he had many dancers over the years. But for her own reasons she obviously didn't want to accept the opportunities he offered her, and she seemed to resent him for it. Balanchine functioned on a plateau that, clearly, wasn't for everybody, but to abandon the challenge of Balanchine for an approach to dancing that seemed more like an act of defiance than an act of love and respect for one's craft was something I could not comprehend." --Suzanne Farrell

#22 pherank

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 02:09 PM

They may well have been taken out by Balanchine; he was known to revise and recast his choreography. However, as in his cutting of Apollo, this was not always a good thing; fortunately, the Balanchine stagers usually allow any version which was 'legitimately done', particularly the original version--unless the Trust has now become even more rigidly self-important, which is always a possibility.

I know this is off topic, but regarding these Wikipedia statements:

["Balanchine staged Apollon Musagete for the Royal Danish Ballet in 1931. Following his move to the United States two years later, the work was performed by his American Ballet in 1937 with Lew Christensen in the title rôle and subsequently becoming a feature of Balanchine's New York company and of many other companies the world over. In 1978 Balanchine made major changes to the piece, discarding the ballet's prologue which depicts Apollo's birth.

For a revival with Mikhail Baryshnikov as Apollo in 1979, he also omitted Apollo's first variation and rechoreographed the ending of the ballet. This revision saw the piece concluding not with Apollo's ascent to Mount Parnassus but rather with the earlier memorable tableau of the muses posing in ascending arabesques beside Apollo. In the 1980 staging for the New York City Ballet, Apollo's first variation was restored. Suzanne Farrell restored the birth scene for her company in 2001, as did Arthur Mitchell for his Dance Theatre of Harlem performance at Symphony Space's Wall to Wall Balanchine in conjunction with City Ballet's Balanchine centennial."]

Does anyone know if the Royal Danish Ballet stages the 1931 version of Apollo today?
(And note that if Farrell can "restore" the birth scene, then it is possible to get the Balanchine Trust to approve potentially any version of a Balanchine ballet. There would of course have to be proof that it could be done accurately and "respectfully".)

#23 Quiggin

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 06:15 PM

pherank:
Does anyone know if the Royal Danish Ballet stages the 1931 version of Apollo today?

[more OT]

My sense from reading historical reviews is that there are not two versions of Apollo but many versions over the years. According to a London reviewer, the 1928 version had a scene where Apollo is balanced on the feet of the muses. Alexandra Danivola (1986) says "Today it's a different ballet... . What I danced was lighter, smaller, quicker. I did fifth, arabesque, fifth, arabesque – nobody does that anymore."

The birth scene was reportedly modified after Balanchine saw a dancer do some Martha Graham warm-up exercises which he included – so the current original is not the same as the '28 or '31 originals.

Apollo seems to have changed tone again when it was revived alongside the premiere of Agon, after which it was taken (and danced?) far more seriously.

NYT 1943 Stravinsky Leads his Apollo -
The work was first produced in Balanchine’s version in 1928 and it bears strong impress of that period of artiness and affectation... It is “moderne” in the late Diaghileff manner

NYT 1961 The New Apollo -
As Mr. Ludlow plays him, Apollo is essentially the half divine lad whose birth by a human mother we have just witnessed, and the line of his progress toward godhood develops with winning transparency before our eyes. Indeed it has never before been so clear that this is the “plot” of the ballet.

#24 jsmu

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 08:55 AM

But of course if it's the chiffon costumes (ugh) it is NOT, in fact, 'Ballet Imperial'--without the column, the uniforms, the tutus, and *especially* without the mime, it is just TPC #2.

Great ballet as well; completely wrong nomenclature, and extremely misleading to the audience.

Yes, certainly steps change, and of course Balanchine himself changed steps for dancers (when Farrell had a bad knee, he removed the jetes in Terpsichore's role, to cite only one well known instance); this is different from dancers saying 'I don't want to do those steps; they're too hard....', and from changing the intention and affect of the ballet, as everyone agrees has happened with Barocco, Donizetti, TPC, and many other ballets. In the Balanchine Celebration twenty years ago (!) beautiful, intricate, virtuoso steps were omitted by the truckload from beautiful, intricate, virtuoso ballets like Glinka and Minkus Pas de Trois. This is not something the Balanchine Trust needs to encourage, to say the least. pherank is quite correct in saying that if a previous KNOWN version can be *correctly* restored, it can always be used. The gorgeous birth scene from Apollo, the omission of which is one of the genius Balanchine's few egregious mistakes (William Weslow is quoted in print as saying that Balanchine cut the birth scene, as he put Baryshnikov in a horrid coverup costume in Prodigal, so that Baryshnikov would *not* create a sensation in that scene. sigh. ) and something not explained away by a flippant remark like 'it's my ballet', LOL. Even Farrell protested when he cut it, as she says in her memoir.



#25 Quiggin

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 10:31 AM

and something not explained away by a flippant remark like 'it's my ballet', LOL. Even Farrell protested when he cut it, as she says in her memoir.


According to D'Amboise, Balanchine says "Like Van Gogh – cut off his own ear," both justifying it and chalking it up to madness.

And yes it's the eliminated steps without something else as telling or witty added. It's like Gore Vidal's example of the classic American cake recipe that every year or so has one expensive ingredient left out.

Mozart Divertimento #15 now (perhaps it always did) seems too long - this was a criticism in London of San Francisco Ballet performance - in part because the slow movement is not delivered with the gravity and deep seriousness - and sense of its oddness - that it needs, and the contrasting light parts don't have quite the type of witty delivery you see in film clips of ballets such as Pas de Dix, or in the recent Miami Paris video of Square Dance.

#26 rg

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 01:48 PM

to clarify a point of mine: i'm not saying dancers are within their rights to eliminate steps from a staging b/c it's too hard, or for any other reason. i'm saying that the double s-d-b moments that were once part of a staging, in this case BALLET IMPERIAL, were not included in a later staging set by i forget whom because they were no longer part of the choreographic text that was staged by ABT and that was last staged by Balanchine at NYCB as TPC#2; the ABT version in question was the new 'version' that was Balanchine's.
as to whether or not the Balanchine Trust should trust its designated stagers to set other, earlier versions of a ballet's past incarnations, that's an administrative decision it makes for its own reasons.
again, i don't think Tallchief staged the BALLET IMPERIAL that ABT most recently mounted w/ Ter-Arutunian's 'tutu' and set designs, i suspect she was recalling how once BALLET IMPERIAL included a different choreographic text for the finale.


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