kbarber

Rodeo

33 posts in this topic

Thanks so much for the link -- it's been too long since I saw the work!

Since you've opened up the topic, I'm curious how many people on the board have seen Rodeo recently, and what they think of it in a contemporary repertory.

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Oh, thank you so much for this link. Sarry was great in this role!

I find it interesting that we don't really see much of deMille's choreography itself nowadays, but I see her influence, even signature movements, all over the place.

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I love that ballet!! And also haven't seen it in a while. It seems to me that it would always be appropriate in the repertoire.....it's rather timeless, as a piece of Americana.

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I am wondering anout DeMille's legacy, what with the new Peck ballet (of which I've only seen very short video clips) using Rodeo. Peck says 'I think the cowboy theme is a little cheesy'. Sometimes I feel DeMille's work is so 1950s era Americana and reflects a view we no longer have. I wonder if after a couple more decades go by this very 1950sish aspect will add to its charm rather than detract from it. Would a fresh restaging of it manage to put new life into it or would it again reflect our perspective on the 1950s outlook? The Cowboy mythology isn't very strong in our culture anymore (at least perhaps not so much outside the southwest)... i know of no children playing "cowboys & indians" as in earlier generations when there were plenty of cowboy shows on children's television.

Still, I cannot hear Rodeo without hearing the great American West, and I cannot help but feel the need to see cowboy hats somewhere in the new ballet. I wonder if I would like the Peck piece more if it were given cowboy trappings, or would I just find a new appreciation of DeMille's work by the contrast? I think I'd like to see it without the backdrops, more minimalist... The music cries out "cowboy", would it be more evocative without every detail filled in for us? But, don't lose the cowboy hats!

Who is protecting DeMille's legacy? Is she just another forgotten woman choreographer? Or did she have the misfortune to pass away before this concept of trusts to protect a choreographer's legacy came into being?

What would we think if ABT gave a young dancer/choreographer Agon's music to create a ballet to?

It just seems a little strange. Was it daring? Or was it something else?

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I also think some people associate the Copland music with the beef industry, because for a period of years the beef industry was using the Rodeo music in its commercials to promote consumption of steaks and other beef products. I think this reinforced the notion that the Copland music is an evocation of the West and of cowboys and cattle. In fact, I bet many more Americans are aware of the commercials that the DeMille ballet.

Peck may say that he finds the cowboy theme cheesy, but he nevertheless used the music as a vehicle for a ballet about male bonding.

DeMille may not have had a trust, but her ballet is still under copyright protection, I believe.

I think additionally that since NYCB has Western Symphony in its rep, Peck was trying especially hard to avoid a duplication of any explicit Western theme in his ballet. (Would Peck really want to invite a comparison with a Balanchine ballet? I doubt it.) Since certain members of the media have been complaining for years that ballet involves too much conventional male-female coupling and partnering, it seems Peck decided to take that idea and run with it. It certainly got him a rave from at least one major newspaper critic here in NYC.

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DeMille may not have had a trust, but her ballet is still under copyright protection, I believe.

Rodeo was made in 1942, decades before "choreographic works" was added as an eligible category for copyright in the Copyright Law of 1976. She famously testified before Congress on the importance of adding that category. It's possible that pre-1976 she copyrighted some of her work under the category "dramatico-musical" work, which I understand Balanchine to have used. And, of course, the Copland score was copyrightable. It's interesting that on the DeMille web site, there is no mention of the copyright status of Rodeo. Does anybody know?

http://www.agnesdemilledances.com/rodeo.html

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Thanks. I didn't realize that copyrighting of dance works was added to the law so late.

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Oh boy -- I'll go do some homework, but this is a fascinating group of questions.

Americana in ballet:

The image of the American West in contemporary art is indeed in flux. Reams and reams of material has been written about this, and I don't pretend to have read anything other than a fraction of it, but Amy identifies a fundamental aspect -- we no longer identify the West of "Cowboys and Indians" as a major part of contemporary life. I saw a screening of Gene Autry's Radio Ranch last weekend, and was reminded about how central to our national identity the world of the working cowboy was in the beginning and the middle of the last century -- it does not hold that same place today. DeMille made Rodeo during the run up to WWII and the Depression -- she was determined to use the iconography of her time, and her ballet (alongside the dances she made for Oklahoma using much of the same vocabulary) is pretty firmly identified with those ideas and that time.

(a colleague of mine is writing a book about American ballet in the mid-20th c, and has been steeping herself in these works -- I hear a lot about it when we talk!)

Copyright and estate:

DeMille was indeed integral to the extension of copyright to include dance -- her Broadway work was, I believe, the first work to be entered into copyright. But that doesn't mean that someone is managing her artistic estate in the same way that Balanchine, Cunningham, Tudor etc are being both protected and promoted.

Programming:

I don't have any insight on the discussions that go on among the artistic staff at NYCB, but I can certainly imagine that they would prefer not to have two "cowboy hat" ballets made to music from the mid-20th c in their rep. And they perform Western Symphony much more often that ABT performs Rodeo.

I have an appointment, so have to scoot -- back later...

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I doubt a cowboy hat ballet would be Justin Peck's style.

I see that NYCB is reviving Western Symphony for the Saratoga season this summer, which probably means we will be seeing it during the 2015-16 season at the Koch. Wonder if they will do an "Americana" themed program with Western and Rodeo. Peter Martins has become fond of marketing theme based programs.

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I believe the recording of Rodeo on film/bideo and filing it with the Library of Congress counted towards copyrighting... Had it not been recorded, there would have een more trouble. There are works of Oris Humphrey's that were recorded fter her death that are copyrighted to her son, I believe...

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My wondering about the DeMille legacy was less about copyright and more about whether her oeuvre was still being encouraged... It is not enough to prserve a work by enforcing copyright...if the work is not performed regularly it ceases to be on the dance world's radar and slowly is done less & less... Until no one bothers to do it because they just don't think of it... I thought Baryshnikov was spot on to attempt to preserve works by performing them...(am thinking of Judson).

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My wondering about the DeMille legacy was less about copyright and more about whether her oeuvre was still being encouraged... It is not enough to prserve a work by enforcing copyright...if the work is not performed regularly it ceases to be on the dance world's radar and slowly is done less & less... Until no one bothers to do it because they just don't think of it... I thought Baryshnikov was spot on to attempt to preserve works by performing them...(am thinking of Judson).

This is spot on. Dancers learn by doing, and dances are preserved by being performed. You can, with time and perseverance, reconstruct work that has fallen out of active repertory -- people like Millicent Hodson and Doug Fullington have proved that. But for every victory they have, we continue to lose more and more of our heritage -- copyright protects the artist against plagarism, but not against inactivity.

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You can, with time and perseverance, reconstruct work that has fallen out of active repertory -- people like Millicent Hodson and Doug Fullington have proved that.

Definitely -- with the note that some have characterized some of Hodson's work as more reimaginings than reconstructions.

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I'm not sure ABT has the wherewithal talent-wise to stage this anymore... It almost might it better on the Graham or Ailey company! I wonder if Ratmansky could stage Americana... Could Joffrey pull it off? Not the Royal, not the POB,... Russians? Georgians? The Het? Maybe a Latin American company?-- but why would they? I guess we think nothing of staging Petrushka or Firebird, but the opposite, a Russian company staging cowboys? It is a cunnundrum....

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The Joffrey I've known in the past could certainly do it, but I haven't seen them very recently.

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Ok, this is what I've found thus far

From a 2002 website

"De Mille Productions was founded by Jonathan Prude in 1993 to promote the performance of Agnes de Mille's choreographic works. This webpage has been developed to facilitate stagings of dance works by Agnes de Mille. The ballets are owned by Jonathan Prude and administered by de Mille Productions under the executive directorship of Anderson Ferrell."

From the Wikipedia entry

"(Paul) Sutherland has staged Rodeo over fifty times for dozens of companies and universities throughout the United States and Canada as well as in Antwerp, Belgium, and continues to do so."

I found references to productions by Boston Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Alabama Ballet and San Francisco Ballet without any trouble.

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Looks like Alabama Ballet did it 2014. http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2014/04/cowhands_wranglers_and_a_hoe-d.html

and it sounds like it ws well recieved but I imagine the music would not have been live.

I can see San Franciso Ballet making a good job of it. Looks like 2005/6 was the last time they did it?

I'm happy to see it is on ABT rep this Spring. I can't use the Ballet Alert quote feature on my older iPad but here is the blurb:

Xiomara Reyes and David Hallberg will lead the season's first performance of Agnes de Mille's Rodeo on Tuesday, May 12. Rodeo, featuring music by Aaron Copland and scenery by Oliver Smith, was first presented by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo at the Metropolitan Opera House on October 16, 1942, with Agnes de Mille as the Cowgirl, Frederic Franklin as the Champion Roper and Casimir Kokitch as the Head Wrangler. Rodeo was first performed by Ballet Theatre in Wiesbaden, Germany on August 14, 1950. A new production, featuring sets by Oliver Smith and costumes by Santo Loquasto, was given its Revival Premiere in 1989 in St. Louis, Missouri. Rodeo will be staged for ABT by Paul Sutherland.

There is this interview with the ever charming Frederic Franklin on ABT's site anout the creation of the work:

http://www.abt.org/contactus/enews/rodeo.asp

Maybe companies are waiting for the 75th birthday of the piece in 2017 when there would likely be a helpful wave of PR.

Perhaps the score alone will ensure interest in the choreography will survive at least another hundred years... Music has an easier longevity than choreography. Had the choreography been great and the music mediocre, survival would be more difficult.

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Actually, the casting has been updated. Hallberg will not be in Rodeo at all during the ABT season. He is replaced by James Whiteside.

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Rodeo will be staged for ABT by Paul Sutherland.

Near as I can tell, Sutherland is the designated stager by the estate for the work.

There is this interview with the ever charming Frederic Franklin on ABT's site anout the creation of the work:

http://www.abt.org/contactus/enews/rodeo.asp

"ever charming" is dead on!

Maybe companies are waiting for the 75th birthday of the piece in 2017 when there would likely be a helpful wave of PR.

Perhaps the score alone will ensure interest in the choreography will survive at least another hundred years... Music has an easier longevity than choreography. Had the choreography been great and the music mediocre, survival would be more difficult.

You may have put your finger on something with the anniversary, or at least I hope so. I'm so worried that this ballet (along with many other works from that era) are slipping away as we keep pursuing the next new thing.

I've only seen the clips on the NYCB website of Peck's version, but I'm impressed with its musicality. I think you're right when you say that an interest in the score might be the saving grace.

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I cannot erase the images of De Mille's Rodeo as I try to absorb the Peck piece... it gets in the way of my appreciating it. I would have a much easier time seeing the Peck work on it's own terms if I had never seen DeMille's.... my mind did keep interrupting with 'but.. but... but..." and it is distracting.

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I wonder how people felt watching the alternate version of Prodigal Son... it must have been worse what with having same setting and costumes!

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I cannot erase the images of De Mille's Rodeo as I try to absorb the Peck piece... it gets in the way of my appreciating it. I would have a much easier time seeing the Peck work on it's own terms if I had never seen DeMille's.... my mind did keep interrupting with 'but.. but... but..." and it is distracting.

I agree, to a point. While I greatly enjoyed Peck's musical response here, I still felt the music said certain things at times (accents, etc.) that just can't be avoided. Many of us are so familiar with this score and associate it with DeMille's work. Hard to put that aside. Oddly, "Mercurial Manoeuvres" (also on the same bill at NYCB) uses the same Concerto that Ratmansky used for his Trilogy, and here I found no conflict. I could enjoy it on it's own terms with no memory overlapping one or the other. Maybe further viewing of the Peck piece will give it it's own place. I did find it, overall, a good piece of choreography.

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