lmspear

Western Symphony

33 posts in this topic

And what's with the opening credit for the Ministry of Agriculture?

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Oh, my...those entrechats by Allegra Kent in the 3rd mvt, around the 18-minute mark! Did she have springs in her pointes? And her partner, Robert Barnett's energy. This is extraordinary. All of the soloist and corps are terrific. Thanks for posting.

Cast:

1st - Adams/Bliss

2nd - Hayden/Magallanes

3rd - Kent/Barnett

4th - LeClerq/D'Amboise

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Impsear, this is fantastic. I echo your jawdrop.gif . And add a couple of clapping.gifclapping.gifclapping.gif .

This is MOSTLY the original cast. And what a cast. The film was distributed by the U.S. Information Service, probably as a promotion for a NYCB tour to Europe. Western Symphony was performed on the 1956 tour, including Paris (which might explain the French version of the film). Less than two weeks after Paris, The company was in Copenhagen. It was there that Tanaquil Leclerq, after dancing the Rondo with Jacques d'Amboise, experienced the first symptoms of polio.

Allegro: Diana Adams and Herbert Bliss are original cast.

Adagio: Nicholas Magallanes is original cast, but Melissa Hayden replaces Janet Reed.

Scherzo: Allegra Kent replaces Patrica Wilde; Robert Barnett replaces Andre Eglevsky.

Rondo: Tanaquil LeClerq and Jacques d'Amboise are original cast.

The Scherzo is usually omitted now,, but Edward Villella, who actually danced it, put it back in for Miami City Ballet.

It's fascinating to compare the style to the way the ballet dancers perform this work today. In those early days, it was about energy, wit, fast footwork, and big (almost "Broadway") gestures. Those dancers were enjoying themselves..

It will be interesting to look back at recordings of Miami City Ballet's 2011 performance for Dance in America. Villella must have been thinking of the look and especially the feel of this original group of dancers, almost all of which he actually had the chance to work with, when he was coaching his young MCB dancers last year. I'm looking forward to comparing those two performances -- one filmed shortly after the premiere, the other filmed over half a century later.

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What an opportunity to see why Balanchine loved Diana Adams so much: in the adagio in particular she is exquisite. Kent is a wonder, too. It's amazing to see how powerfully Hayden takes over the camera, and Magallanes was so sweet in the opening. They do it straight, with no winks.

:flowers: lmspear!

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What surprised me the most was Hayden: she's likable and actually funny.

And LeClerq and that hat!

What a treat. Thank you so much. flowers.gif

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What surprised me the most was Hayden: she's likable and actually funny.

That was the big delight of the video for me. All my memories of Hayden are so positive, and I'm convinced that she, and to a slightly lesser extent d'Amboise, Kent,Verdy, and Arthur Mitchell were the dancers who opened my eyes to just how wonderful the varieties of ballet dancing can be.

I suspect that the small amount of high-quality videos featuring Hayden -- and the never quite enthusiastic write-ups she received from reviewers -- may have left people with a distorted impression. Hayden on stage was charismatic and "theatrical" dancer, in the sense of completely inhabiting the role. Her technique and personality were more than sufficient for the wide range of roles she danced, not just the bravura dancing for which she is known. She was capable of softness (watch the video of The Still Point pdd on the Jacques d'Amboise dvd), pathos (I still think of her as the most moving of all the NYCB Odettes), emotional warmth (her Sugar Plum Fairy), and a wry kind of subtlety (just look at the way she bids farewell to Nicholas Magallanes before bourreeing out of his life at the end of the Adagio).

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I just had the chance to compare on side-by-side screens the original Allegro section with Miami City Ballet's televised version from 2011. It seems apparent that someone was looking very closely at this old video. Many details of gesture and characterization -- the kind of thing that is often lost when ballets are passed on only by the memory of dancers who performed in or observed them -- are very close.

Jennifer Kronenberg has a lot of Diana Adams' charm and a similar body type (those long gorgeous legs, for example). She seems to be channeling Adams' plush quality of movement. Adams, however, seems more natural and spontaneous while relating to her partner; Kronenberg is more knowing, more of a coquette. It was marvelous to be able to watch this as the two danced side by side on different screens.

Carlos Guerra is more balletic than Herbert Bliss, especially his feet. Guerra wears softer shoes and is less of a hoofer, but he's a charmer, too -- and equally enthralled by his lady.

MCB's corps is technically more precise than the NYCB corps of the 1950s -- crisper, cleaner, with greater technical consistency -- than NYCB in the 1950s. I'd probably give an edge to NYCB for energy and for the illusion of true spontaneity.

There are two points in the Allegro in which the original NYCB version outshines MCB's:

-- The pas de deux's highpoint comes as the cavalier/cowboy promenades his ballerina while she does a developpe a la seconde, transitioning to arabesque. In the 1950s video, the music swells to make this clear. MCB's music does not swell, so the full effect of this promenade -- with its witty allusion to the grandeur of classical ballet -- is lost.

-- The tempo of the end of the finale is much accelerated in the 1950s version, noticeably faster than Miami's version. Miami's dancers have nuance and precision at their slower tempo tempo. NYCB's dancers have greater energy and a heart-racing, almost desperate joie de vivre.

The similarities, however, outweigh the differences. Both sets of dancers are joys to watch.

I'll be checking the other 3 sections over the next day or so. I'm especially interested in comparing the Rondo -- with MCB's Patricia Delgado and Yann Trividic dancing Tanaquil le Clercq's and Jacques d'Amboise's parts. Villella decided to revive this section (the "dance with the hat" as it is sometimes known) MCB as far as I know is the only company to perform it.

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Adams has a truly amazing sous-sus -- it looks like a sword or a lance planted in the floor.

Thanks for posting this -- it's got magnificent energy. Very few clean fifth positions, but the rhythms are VERY precise. leclercq is truly hilarious.

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Good morning, Bart, is the 2011 MCB Dance in America soon t be released on DVD? I looked for it recently on Amazon and did not find it. Thank you.

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It is indeed fantastic! I'm working on an old computer right now while my brand-new all-in-one is being repaired smilie_mondieu.gif so I cannot watch this video very well right now - I'll park it for later on! Can't wait. Wonderful! thanks.GIF Imspear!

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Good morning, Bart, is the 2011 MCB Dance in America soon t be released on DVD? I looked for it recently on Amazon and did not find it. Thank you.

Not to my knowledge. The Midsummer Night's Dream of Pacific Northwest Ballet -- a regional company comparable in size and quality to MCB -- WAS released commercially on dvd, so there is always the possibility. The Rondo [EDITED TO ADD. I MEAN "SCHERZO." THANKS ksk04 FOR THE CORRECTION], especially, is a rarity which few even in NYC have the chance to see..

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Good morning, Bart, is the 2011 MCB Dance in America soon t be released on DVD? I looked for it recently on Amazon and did not find it. Thank you.

Not to my knowledge. The Midsummer Night's Dream of Pacific Northwest Ballet -- a regional company comparable in size and quality to MCB -- WAS released commercially on dvd, so there is always the possibility. The Rondo, especially, is a rarity which few even in NYC have the chance to see..

The PNB performance on tour in London was filmed by and shown on BBC and later released on the BBC's own Opus Arte label.

Was the last "Dance in America" released on DVD the Balanchine Celebration from 1993?

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Helene, I should have checked the information on the box.

Was the last "Dance in America" released on DVD the Balanchine Celebration from 1993?

I don't know how many have been released since then, but ABT had at least three: "American Ballet Theater Now: Variety and Virtuosity" (1998); Ashton's "The Dream" (2005); and the Murphy/Corella/Gomes "Swan Lake" (2005).

New York City Ballet appears as a Live from Lincoln Center production. in "Swan Lake" (1999) and "The Diamond Project" (contemporary choreographers, i.e., no Balanchine) (2002).

I'm sure there are others. The two Balanchine ballets on the MCB video Might be a problem if it ever comes to negotiating rights from the Balanchine Trust.

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Thank you for posting this, lmspear! A true joy and privilege to watch. flowers.gif

I'll be checking the other 3 sections over the next day or so. I'm especially interested in comparing the Rondo -- with MCB's Patricia Delgado and Yann Trividic dancing Tanaquil le Clercq's and Jacques d'Amboise's parts. Villella decided to revive this section (the "dance with the hat" as it is sometimes known) MCB as far as I know is the only company to perform it.

I thought the Scherzo is the section that is usually omitted, but added back in by Villella? The Rondo is most well-known part of WS, no?

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Right. Sorry for the mistake, which I often make for some reason. I got "Scherzo" in my first post but "Rondo" (wrong !) on the second. Thanks, sks04, for catching this.

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I watched it again today, liked it even better. The corps is CONSTANTLY on the move, and they're SO full of moxie. their attack is thrilling. Tanny made me laugh out loud with her mule kicks and her applejacks and her turned-in bird steps -- but frankly, I think it's the corps that makes this one so great.

It is a GREAT ballet masquerading as a bumptious divertissement.

And maybe Balanchine was right to cut the Scherzo -- it is fun, but the whole is tighter and maybe funnier without it -- though i DEFINITELY prefer this to every other performance I've ever seen.

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The idea of seeing four ballerinas this great in one wonderful ballet is inconceivable.

Never again.

Adams's legs were once compared to the Solingen scissors, among other flattering comparisons.....one can certainly see why. What amplitude. what beauty.

Hayden also has gorgeous legs, in a completely different way.....and is funnier than anyone has ever been since in the Adagio, without mugging and with flawless technique.

Kent--well. She was, on top of everything else, a jumper when she was young.

LeClercq--where does one start? Superb in every particular.

Balanchine cut the Scherzo not because the ballet was too long but because in the absence of Kent and Wilde he felt no one was adequate to the task (when one sees Kent's entrechats, one sees WHY.).....

it was revived by NYCB in the Eighties and early Nineties with Nichols, who was marvelous as usual--however that revival did not last long.

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This helps me to understand where Edward Villella was coming from -- what he was visualizing -- when he set this ballet on his company. He knew all the originals. This must have affected his casting of the quick-silver, super-springy Jeanette Delgado and Renato Penteado for the Scherzo on the Dance in America video. (Delgado, then a corps member, also danced this in 2006 -- with Alex Wong.)

Balanchine cut the Scherzo not because the ballet was too long but because in the absence of Kent and Wilde he felt no one was adequate to the task (when one sees Kent's entrechats, one sees WHY.).....

it was revived by NYCB in the Eighties and early Nineties with Nichols, who was marvelous as usual--however that revival did not last long.

I wonder why companies don't train the dancers UP to choreography like this, rather than eliminating it. I understand Paul's point about tightening (concentrating) the effect. But deleting the Scherzo seems like a kind of fudge. Having grown up with the original, I miss the movement when it's not there.

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Watching this for the 3rd time, I am particularly fixated on the energy and carefree style of the entire corps. Compared to this, today's dancers are too 'pretty and proper' in their delivery. Just because Balanchine came from St Petersburg doesn't mean that every one of his big-corps ballets need to be danced as if they're all Swan Lake!

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Absolutely, Natalia. I was so flabbergasted by the ballerinas and d'Amboise I neglected to mention the corps, which is beyond stellar in a perfectly 'American' way......Balanchine loved his ballets NOT to look like Imperial restagings when , as here, they were intended to be colloquial.

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And how freely Robert Barnett dances... In inventiveness this version of Western Symphony seems more like one of the Warner Brothers cartoons of the same time rather than contemporary musicals. The scherzo develops fewer ideas than the other sections, so maybe that's why it was dropped. And every now and then there seem to be odd structural remnants of Swan Lake or Giselle or some other sad Petipa work, but here they laugh.

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Films like this Western Symphony make me wish that there would be a USA equivalent of the magnificent British DVD publishers, ICA (of the recent Fonteyn, Nerina, 'Russian Treasures' DVDs). I know of many ballet & general perf-arts lovers who would gladly pay to have their own pristene copies of this gem from the NYCB Glory Years.

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Films like this Western Symphony make me wish that there would be a USA equivalent of the magnificent British DVD publishers, ICA (of the recent Fonteyn, Nerina, 'Russian Treasures' DVDs). I know of many ballet & general perf-arts lovers who would gladly pay to have their own pristene copies of this gem from the NYCB Glory Years.

I know I would pay to have a copy of this ballet on DVD. Shouldn't most of this footage be digitized and restored too?!

btw, can anybody name some of the corps members from the NYC Ballet footage? I thought I saw Joy Feldman Ludlow in the 1st movement and Ruth Sobotka in the third movement.

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