miliosr

Is the Tudor Repertory Dead?

Is the Tudor Repertory Dead?   13 members have voted

  1. 1. Is the Tudor Repertory Dead?

    • Yes, it is dead as a doornail.
      0
    • No, but it is on life support.
      5
    • No, it is just experiencing a temporary lull.
      8

Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.

41 posts in this topic

After reviewing various sources (including the Antony Tudor Trust site and the Dance Europe overview of 2012-13 performances in Europe), I noticed that companies are barely performing Tudor works this season. ABT is performing The Leaves Are Fading, the Ballet Am Rhein is performing Jardin aux Lilas and a pas de deux from The Leaves Are Fading, and New York Theatre Ballet is performing Little Improvisations. And that's it.

Update: Oklahoma City Ballet will be performing Jardin aux Lilas. (Hattip to Levi!)

Update: Sarasota Ballet will be performing Jardin aux Lilas. (Hattip to Birdsall!)

Update: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will be performing Jardin aux Lilas. (Hattip to kbarber!)

So, the question I would pose to Ballet Talkers is this: Is the Tudor Repertory dead???

(Feel free to share the reason(s) for your vote.)

Share this post


Link to post

It seems that way, sadly. I was happy to see Soirees Musicales last May at the JKO School's graduation performance. Maybe the JKO School will resurrect another Tudor rarity this year? We can always count on NY Theatre Ballet to remember Tudor, too.

I wish that ABT or some other major troupe would resurrect Gala Performance. Imagine if ABT would perform it with, say, Osipova, Vishneva and Semenova as the three ballerinas (although only one of them could play 'the Russian')...or a mix the Americans and Russians, e.g., Vishneva, Murphy and Boylston?

Tudor and Arpino seem to be the most ignored choreographers-of-the-recent-past nowadays.

Share this post


Link to post

I am pleased to say that the Oklahoma City Ballet will be performing Anthony Tudor's Lilac Garden later this month.

Additionally, they performed Gerald Arpino's Light Rain last season.

Share this post


Link to post

Sarasota Ballet is doing Lilac Garden this season. I think it is at the beginning of March.

Share this post


Link to post

One of the issues with Tudor is that he was so specific about his ballets, and if his intent isn't passed down, the way that phrases are connected and the dancers interact and tell the emotional story are lost.

I don't see the same technical issues in performing Tudor that I see in performing Ashton, whose ballets without the right technical virtues and training crumble more visibly. Dramatically, though, sometimes it's hard to see the Tudor.

Share this post


Link to post

One of the issues with Tudor is that he was so specific about his ballets, and if his intent isn't passed down, the way that phrases are connected and the dancers interact and tell the emotional story are lost.

The Dance Notation Bureau received a major grant in 1981 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to notate Dim Lustre, Dark Elegies, Pillar of Fire, Undertow, and Jardin aux Lilas, complementing earlier work by Tudor already in notation. Tudor was actively involved in the project, preparing accompanying statements of his intentions for the works and other insights of value to scholars in reconstructing and analyzing the choreography. Tudor reportedly became convinced of the value of notation in 1961, when he and Muriel Topaz, later executive director of the Dance Notation Bureau, were both on the faculty of the Julliard School and four of his early works were notated. Many small companies around the company were able to restage his work without the considerable expense of bringing Tudor or one of his assistants to teach the choreography.

In spring 2010, Colorado Ballet presented his Echoing of Trumpets:

http://www.coloradoballet.org/about-news/3motions

The Tudor Trust, set up along the lines of the Balanchine Trust and the Robbins Trust, does list several recent and upcoming performances, although mainly in smaller companies:

http://www.antonytudor.org/index1.html

I wonder if a shortage of Tudor "disciples" to assist in reconstructing these works from the notation (as well as to promote his work) has something to do with it.

Share this post


Link to post

While every great choreographer is more than the steps and the video, and it's important to capture the steps and patterns so that they're not lost, Tudor's sensibility can't be notated, and we lost one of the great stagers when Sallie Wilson died.

Share this post


Link to post

The Tudor Trust, set up along the lines of the Balanchine Trust and the Robbins Trust, does list several recent and upcoming performances, although mainly in smaller companies:

http://www.antonytudor.org/index1.html

This board is doing a better job of listing upcoming performances of Tudor works than the Tudor Trust site is doing.

I wonder if a shortage of Tudor "disciples" to assist in reconstructing these works from the notation (as well as to promote his work) has something to do with it.

While every great choreographer is more than the steps and the video, and it's important to capture the steps and patterns so that they're not lost, Tudor's sensibility can't be notated, and we lost one of the great stagers when Sallie Wilson died.

One of the complaints I've read the most about the Tudor legacy is that the surviving stagers are staging them indifferently so that "Tudor's sensibility" is not coming through in performance with enough clarity. The great exception, of course, was Sallie Wilson but she, as Helene notes, is lost to us now.

Share this post


Link to post

Here is an updated summary of Tudor performances in 2012-13:

Four companies will be performing Jardin aux Lilas a.k.a. Lilac Garden.

Two companies will be performing The Leaves Are Fading (in part or in full).

One company will be performing Little Improvisations.

That still seems like awfully thin gruel to me, especially when you consider how many stagings occur every year of works by Tudor's direct A-list contemporaries -- Ashton, Balanchine and Robbins.

Share this post


Link to post

This past week I saw a dress rehearsal of three of the pas de deux from The Leaves Are Fading, each with a different cast, and they were all beautiful. This took place at the ABT studios. If you can, try to catch the performances of Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes. Rapturous. Stylistically eloquent. I'm going to see Veronika Part and Roberto Bolle, whom I didn't see in rehearsal.

Share this post


Link to post

I'm not sure the technical groundwork is still there... Emphasis is subtlely elsewhere... Takes away from the choreography's voice if the technique doesn't flow as naturally as the motivation...

Share this post


Link to post

I voted for "it's on life support," which doesn't mean that this can't be reversed.

Tudor performances seem to be dwindling down to (mostly) Lilac Garden and Leaves are Fading.

It happens, these are only Tudor works I've seen a number of times over the past decade. Leaves are Fading is a lovely work, set in no specific time or place, which appears to have fared best. When I saw it at ABT back in the 80s, it made me think of Fokine more than Tudor.

The Lilac Gardens I've seen in recent years have been weak tea for the most part. I'm afraid I have to agree with Helene:

I don't see the same technical issues in performing Tudor that I see in performing Ashton [ ... ] Dramatically, though, sometimes it's hard to see the Tudor.

Lilac Garden is remembered for its story, of course, but what grabs the audience is the style in which the story is told. I've heard it described as a tragedy of manners. Only two MCB dancers -- Deanna Seay and Callie Manning, each dancing The Woman in His Past -- conveyed the tension between social constraint and almost unbearable passion, and created a compelling Tudor character.

What about Pillar of Fire? Are there dancers today capable of doing justice to that?

Share this post


Link to post

I love "Pillar of Fire.". When I saw it on PBS as a kid, my parents weren't sure it was appropriate, especially when I was transfixed by it.

I've seen it live, too, and I cast it regularly in my head for PNB.

Share this post


Link to post

I am pleased to say that the Oklahoma City Ballet will be performing Anthony Tudor's Lilac Garden later this month.

Additionally, they performed Gerald Arpino's Light Rain last season.

Speaking of Arpino, American Repertory Ballet Theatre of Princeton, NJ, is performing Viva Vivaldi! tomorrow night.

Back to Tudor, yes it's nice to see so many Lilac Gardens on the horizon. How about something rarer, such as Dim Lustre, Gala Performance or Echoing of Trumpets? Lilac and Leaves, and to a lesser extent, Dark Elegies, seem to be the 'Big Three Tudors' that come up but Tudor choreographed so much more, even of high quality, that is never performed today. Lilac and Leaves aren't on my 'Tudor Life Support' list...hardly rarities.

Pillar is a semi-rarity today but ABT revives it every now and then. It afforded Michele Wiles one of her greatest roles at ABT (Hagar), especially with Marcelo Gomes as the Man from House Opposite. ABT performed it at the Kennecy Center 3-4 yrs ago.

Share this post


Link to post

I saw and enjoyed Dim Luster at NYCB long, long ago, with McBride and Villella in the leads. I think it was coached by Tudor himself. This reinforces a point made in earlier posts -- the importance of good coaching by people who know the works intimately and feel commited to the artistic goals and aesthetic of the piece.

I would love to have seen the ABT Pillar of Fire you mention, Natalia. It's no surprise that Gomes fit this perfectly. Wiles's success is more of a pleasant surprise.

Share this post


Link to post

"Dark Elegies" was in the PNB active rep list under Russell and Stowell -- it is a gorgeous piece -- but was removed during a list clean-up under Boal.

New York Theatre Ballet has done its best to keep Tudor alive, but Tudor seems woefully out-of-fashion, despite the occasional programs on which "Leaves'" -- hardly the greatest of his work, but accessible -- and "Lilac Garden" appear. It happened to Ashton, too, but, again, there's a lost training -- technique and style -- element that's missing to perform his ballets properly, especially when the Royal Ballet threw out the Ashton with the bath water.

At the moment, at least, no one would think of doing this to Balanchine, whose dancers spread out the roots with their own companies and there are so many stagers who worked directly with him still in high demand. Balanchine also had an institution -- two, really, the company and the school -- for decades, and while there were people who thought, The King Is Tired, Long Live Robbins, Robbins wasn't interested in an institutional coup against the Master.

Tudor, though, was affiliated with a different kind of company that dropped the ball on his legacy and the majority of whose rep is full-length classics of varying worth.

Share this post


Link to post

Lilac Garden was done by San Francisco Ballet a couple of years ago and it was fine, but it seemed very much of the time when it was choreographed, when Freud was popular and everyone was keen on inventorying the repressive matter of their subconsciouses.

For me it would be difficult to sit through a ballet based on Mahler's Kindertotenlieder, which is so fully realized it needs no visual commentary, no matter how fine the choreography, or to watch ballets in which characters are called The Man from Next Door or the Woman He Once Loved.

Added: though you could say Orpheus and The Four Temperaments bear some of the marks of the same period.

Share this post


Link to post

....

For me it would be difficult to sit through a ballet based on Mahler's Kindertotenlieder, which it so fully realized it needs no visual commentary,....

Glad I'm not alone here. :) I put it right up there on my 'non-hit parade' with Sacre du Printemps. Thank goodness that Tudor is so much more than Dark Elegies.

Share this post


Link to post

Tudor was also not as prolific as Balanchine or Ashton. i remember an interview in which he talked about not wanting to repeat himself and was quite explicitly critical of Balanchine simply repeating Apollo.

But there are still other Tudor ballets I have sometimes thought might have a long shot of being revived...Decades ago, Joffrey pulled off a revival of Orpheus in the Underworld, and I have sometimes wondered if there are any former Joffrey dancers who might lead a revival (and perhaps it too was notated?). I remember it as (darkly) entertaining.

I also wonder if some company in collaboration with Gelsey Kirkland might try a revival of The Tiller in the Fields. Not a major work, but I remember a rather rapturous pas de deux for Kirkland and Bissell that I would not mind seeing again. And the image of one of those ballet-peasant ballerinas actually ending up with a baby bump was not one I've ever forgotten -- though i guess no-one will ever quite be able to reproduce the expression of anxiety-yet-hope-for-happiness Kirkland pulled off when she showed it to Bissell. (Tudor seems to be reminding us what's actually going on in ballet's rapturous idealizations...)

(I note that ABT has also revived Shadowplay in recent years.)

Share this post


Link to post

Several points:

Tudor was a notoriously ugly, insecure, and vitriolic man, most particularly in rehearsals; several biographies and ,many, MANY dancers subjected to his abuse confirm this, including but not limited to Villella, LeClercq, Wilson, etc. ad infinitum. Therefore, being coached by Tudor was, to say the least, nothing like learning a ballet from Balanchine OR Ashton, both of whom treated their dancers with respect and both of whom had no interest in ugly public humiliations. I would venture to say that Kaye or Wilson would have been infinitely preferable in every way for any staging of his ballets. (sadly, of course, they are gone...)

That said, he made masterpieces. They are not just a matter of fragile, evanescent sensibilities either ( although this is certainly a part of them); unfortunately, it requires formidable technical command to make them look good, and more particularly, to make them look easy. LeClercq turned down Caroline (how many ballerinas on earth would ever do that? LOL) , saying it was 'much too hard'......and she was not exactly a technical incompetent. I am very sorry to hear people unimpressed by Jardin, Leaves, etc, when it is the performances , as usual, which are at fault with these great ballets. I recall seeing Kirkland , when I was an infant, in Leaves--it remains indelible to this day, and no one has ever danced it properly since in the performances I've attended. I saw Fracci as Caroline, and the degree of emotional commitment, the beauty of line, the face alone, were epic. (At that time Fracci also had a considerable command of technique, which is something she is rarely credited for...) I certainly have never seen another Caroline on that level, though I'm sure Gregory and Sibley probably were, to name two ballerinas who danced it. Jardin certainly should never come off as second-rate recycled Freud--if that happens, you aren't seeing Jardin.

Sadly, Tudor alienated so many people that it is not very surprising how ABT treated him. it is unjustified, and a dreadful loss that they have let their repertoire of his ballets fall into oblivion.

Share this post


Link to post

Those of us who have seen incredible performances of the best Tudor would have to agree with you. I never saw Kirkland in Leaves are Falling -- only a revival later on. My response to that work are based on later casts, with who-knows-what? levels of coaching and rehearsal.

These ballets need to be believed in. Otherwise, they become just more in a long line of well-intentioned, dutiful, even ill-judged reconstructions of dance that lead nowhere.

Tudor was a notoriously ugly, insecure, and vitriolic man, most particularly in rehearsals; several biographies and ,many, MANY dancers subjected to his abuse confirm this, including but not limited to Villella, LeClercq, Wilson, etc. ad infinitum. Therefore, being coached by Tudor was, to say the least, nothing like learning a ballet from Balanchine OR Ashton, both of whom treated their dancers with respect and both of whom had no interest in ugly public humiliations.

I have just been skimming through my copy of Donna Perlmutter's biography, Shadowplay. Perlmutter is pretty frank about Tudor's darker side, which includes badgering, bullying those who cannot or will not stand up to him, petulant refusal to help dancers with their roles if he felt slighted, etc., etc. There was a "good" Tudor and a "bad" Tudor. Those who stood up to him, like Nora Kaye, seemed to have fared best. This behavior seemed to escalate as he got older and the creative juices did not flow as easily..

Insecurity seems to have been at the core of much of the bad behavior. Feeliing slighted and undervalued seemed to be a trigger. Tudor's childish, ultimately self-defeating refusal to cooperate while Ballet Theater was preparing his works for a planned trip to Russia in 1960 is just one example. The following has to do with Tudor's "work" on Pillar of Fire:[quote

[Lucia] Chase wasn't even certain about whether to choose Pillar of Fire as one of her tour offerings. Would the Russians like it? Did they want it? Tudor's response to her lack of support and shoddy preparations came in the form of a boycott. He attended only one rehearsal of Pillar, seeming like an alien to the scene, merely observing unfamiliar rituals.

""He just sat there," recalled Tommy Rall, who had been cast in Hugh {Laing]'s role. "There were all these new dancers and an impossible number of ballets being rehearsed, for lack of a better word. Nora told me that Tudor probably wouldn't help me, since he and Lucia had had a terrible fight. She spoke only once and that was to Nora: 'You've gotten fat,' he told her, "unable to condone her participation in an affair he discredited.

... Since he would not cooperate with Lucia she did the job herself. And now the cast would pay the penalty. "The only coaching I got came in John Martin's notice [in the NY Times]," said Rall. "It would have made all the difference to hear those words while I was rehearsing. He wrote that I came nowhere near capturing 'the elegant distillation of evil.' That little description was the key information that I never got."

On the other hand, later on, Gelsey Kirkland drove Tudor batty by chronic lateness for rehearsals. Tudor would fume, storm around, and scream. But everything changed when Kirkland slipped into the studio. A colleague writes:

Gelsey would quietly put on her slippers and dance three steps and Tudor would melt.

Share this post


Link to post

On the other hand, later on, Gelsey Kirkland drove Tudor batty by showing up late to everything. He would fume, storm around, and scream. But everything changed when Kirkland arrive. A colleague writes:

Gelsey would quietly put on her slippers and dance three steps and Tudor would melt.

That reminds me of another Kirkland/Tudor anecdote I heard long ago and I wonder if anybody can confirm it. Tudor choreographed the solo at the very end of Turning Point (under the closing credits) specifically for Kirkland. When he learned she had dropped out of the film and would be replaced by Leslie Browne, he insisted that his name be taken off the credits. (I've also wondered if he wanted the choreography dropped, too, but wasn't allowed to under his contract with the filmmakers.)

Share this post


Link to post

Jerome Robbins wasn't always sweetness and light or picnic in the studio, either.

Share this post


Link to post

I can never remember... Wo was the British grande dame who would demolish dancers before re-building them up, sort of a way getting them out of their own way... Was it DeValois or Rambert? Perhaps he was inspired by her?

Share this post


Link to post