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The Rite of Spring -- the Joffrey's 1987 reconstruction providesAlistair Macaulay with his "most shocking moment" as a critic


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#1 bart

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Posted 25 September 2012 - 02:49 PM

This happened during a Joffrey visit to Paris in the early 90s.. The nature of the "shock" is not what one might expect. The 10-minute video, however, is stunning.


http://www.nytimes.c...acaulay-history

#2 diane

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 05:16 AM

thanks for that link! Very interesting!

-d-

#3 Quiggin

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 11:30 AM

Actually the whole discussion on what shocks is interesting. Anthony Tommasini points out that Schoenberg and Debussy were probably writing more radical music at the time Stravinsky was composing Rite of Spring. Also that Jeux is much more difficult than Rite of Spring for an orchestra to get right and is seldom played today. He also mentions that the original story for Jeux is a tryst between three men in a park rather than a man and two women - perhaps something of Diaghilev's original idea still showed through.

#4 Natalia

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 12:00 PM

I know that some folks are a little taken aback by Macaulay's remembrances but, in fact, what he describes as the audiences' reactions in Paris 1990 is precisely what I've seen at the Mariinsky - most people are 'd*** bored' by this ballet. The staging looks gorgeous -- no expense was spared -- but there is almost no dancing and mainly a lot of posing, little walks and other casual movements. One woman shuffles in a circle with other women, eventually falls to the center of the circle, jumps wildly, shakes and falls. Whoever portrays this Sacrificial Maiden is unrecognizable through her clown-faced make-up so anybody on earth could be dancing...Iosifidi or Makhalina? Does it matter? It could be Millicent Hodson behind all the pancake, for all we know; just say that Makhalina is 'dancing' and sell tickets! [By the way, this is somewhat similar to today's Ardani-Mariinsky tour, touting the beautiful Ekaterina Kondaurova as the Stepmother in Cinderella; some will buy tix just because they think they'll see EK in all of her classical glory. Boy, are those fans in for a nasty surprise! But I digress.]

Stravinsky's score is a masterpiece for musicologists...but for Joe & Jane Public? Pass the No-Doze, please!

The Hodson-after-Nijinsky Sacre is the sort of ballet that most people digest maybe once, just as they digest their castor oil. Because it is good for you so just shut-up and swallow! It was shown on PBS in the Joffrey version ca 1989; we are grateful, we have seen it. Enough!

#5 atm711

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 07:40 AM

I know that some folks are a little taken aback by Macaulay's remembrances but, in fact, what he describes as the audiences' reactions in Paris 1990 is precisely what I've seen at the Mariinsky - most people are 'd*** bored' by this ballet. The staging looks gorgeous -- no expense was spared -- but there is almost no dancing and mainly a lot of posing, little walks and other casual movements. One woman shuffles in a circle with other women, eventually falls to the center of the circle, jumps wildly, shakes and falls. Whoever portrays this Sacrificial Maiden is unrecognizable through her clown-faced make-up so anybody on earth could be dancing...Iosifidi or Makhalina? Does it matter? It could be Millicent Hodson behind all the pancake, for all we know; just say that Makhalina is 'dancing' and sell tickets! [By the way, this is somewhat similar to today's Ardani-Mariinsky tour, touting the beautiful Ekaterina Kondaurova as the Stepmother in Cinderella; some will buy tix just because they think they'll see EK in all of her classical glory. Boy, are those fans in for a nasty surprise! But I digress.]

Stravinsky's score is a masterpiece for musicologists...but for Joe & Jane Public? Pass the No-Doze, please!

The Hodson-after-Nijinsky Sacre is the sort of ballet that most people digest maybe once, just as they digest their castor oil. Because it is good for you so just shut-up and swallow! It was shown on PBS in the Joffrey version ca 1989; we are grateful, we have seen it. Enough!



#6 atm711

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 07:45 AM

Actually, Jane and Joe Public (the 47%???) were ecstatic last Friday night at a performance of The Rite of Spring by Alan Gilbert and the NY Philharmonic.Posted Image

#7 Natalia

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 08:53 AM

As Balanchine used to say (paraphrased), "Dear, if you don't like what's on stage, you can always close eyes and listen to music!"

#8 aurora

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 12:58 PM

I know that some folks are a little taken aback by Macaulay's remembrances but, in fact, what he describes as the audiences' reactions in Paris 1990 is precisely what I've seen at the Mariinsky - most people are 'd*** bored' by this ballet. The staging looks gorgeous -- no expense was spared -- but there is almost no dancing and mainly a lot of posing, little walks and other casual movements. One woman shuffles in a circle with other women, eventually falls to the center of the circle, jumps wildly, shakes and falls. Whoever portrays this Sacrificial Maiden is unrecognizable through her clown-faced make-up so anybody on earth could be dancing...Iosifidi or Makhalina? Does it matter? It could be Millicent Hodson behind all the pancake, for all we know; just say that Makhalina is 'dancing' and sell tickets!

Stravinsky's score is a masterpiece for musicologists...but for Joe & Jane Public? Pass the No-Doze, please!

The Hodson-after-Nijinsky Sacre is the sort of ballet that most people digest maybe once, just as they digest their castor oil. Because it is good for you so just shut-up and swallow! It was shown on PBS in the Joffrey version ca 1989; we are grateful, we have seen it. Enough!


I saw it many times in the early 90s when the Joffrey was performing it in NY with the incomperable Beatriz Rodriguez in the part.
She was not interchageable with anyone and I don't remember feeling anyone seemed bored. I know I certainly wasn't. I went night after night.

It loses a great deal on video. This is the case with most live stage performance, but is especially true of this piece, which not only depicts a ritual, but with the right dancer, takes on much of the power and aura of one.

I also take issue that because one can't see the dancer's face behind the makeup, the dancer becomes indistinguishable from any other. I can tell dancers apart whether I can see their facial features or not. Movement quality does tell. I'm sure one will argue that this piece does not give the dancer enough to do technically for individualization, but in fact there is a great deal of character that MUST be related through the movements of the chosen one in order for the piece to work. A dancer who is successful in the role must find a way to do that. It is not an easy role to pull off.

#9 Natalia

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 01:35 AM

I've seen it live many times too, first with Joffrey and later with Mariinsky. I agree completely that Rodriguez was distinguishable and excellent -- even among the circle of maidens before the solo, she could be spotted...because of her jawline. (Remember, the dozen or so women are just shuffling in a circle before the 'chosen one' drops. No big jumps yet.) The Mariinsky women, including Makhalina in the early run (ca 2003),were completely indistinguishable. The only character among the Mariinsky dancers who can be spotted instantly is Ponomaryev as the old sage...because of his height and huge blue eyes. This remains absolutely THE most dreadfully-boring ballet in existence for me. Even Ratmansky's Firebird is better! Harrrumph! :)

#10 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 06:20 AM



#11 aurora

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 06:30 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=356aqUEgB6o


It looks pretty, but she has none of the frenzied energy interpsersed with moments of stillness that characterize Rodriguez in this role. The sense of terror is never palpable. they are just steps.

#12 Natalia

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 06:33 AM

Thanks. There's also a very nice 'extra feature' on this project in the recent DVD of the Mariinsky's Sacre & Firebird (the one with Kondaurova on the cover). Even if I don't care for the final product, I definitely respect the hard work of Hodson & Archer in breathing life into a lost work by researching art, letters, etc. I just wish that they'd try to revive one of the 'lost' Petipa works from the Harvard notations but, then again, that doesn't seem to be their main period of interest. I very much like their revival of Balanchine's 'La Chatte' for the Rome Opera Ballet a few years ago. Parts of Chatte used to be on YouTube but I think were taken down.

p.s. ITA with your comment, Aurora. See what I mean? It was just bland in StP. Rodriguez did a far better job at Joffrey but, yet, I far preferred to see Rodriguez in Arpino and Laura Dean works back in the 80s when the company toured to DC quite often.

#13 trieste

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 03:46 PM

I love the Hodson-after-Nijinsky Rite, but yes, from what I've seen of the Mariinsky dancers in this work, they seem very afraid to make anything 'harsh' or 'ugly'. The same thing foils their attempts at more angular Balanchine.

#14 sandik

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 09:31 AM

Mme. Hermine, many thanks for posting this clip -- it's hard to know what the work looks like in actual performance, since video is notorious for smoothing over specifics, but it does seem to be lighter than other performances, and less detailed, especially in the more unusual shapes.

Sacre is one of those works that seems to divide the audience into factions -- I love the score, and love many of the versions of the work that I've had the chance to see. And even people who don't like it admit the fascination it has for us all. I can think of very few works that engage our attention in the same way.


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