Cristian, I really enjoyed reading your lovely account of Les Patineurs
and your thoughts on Apollo
(or the different "Apollos" currently on display throughout the world). West Palm doesn't get its season premiere of Program One until November 30 (
) -- so I have plenty of time to think about what you and others have written.
My first Apollo
was Jacques d'Amboise, whose Terpsichores included Diana Adams and Allegra Kent. Repertory in Review
has a good account of what Balanchine wanted in those days at NYCB. They did the birth scene -- winding cloth and all -- and the apotheosis on the stairway. We first saw Apollo wrapped in yards of white fabric, hopping forward towards the audience. d'Amboise was coltish, very young, very spontaneous. This prepared the way for the touches of stumbling, confusion, sudden bursts of exhaustion and petulance that Balanchine gives Apollo as he makes his uncertain (but preordained) way to becoming a god. According to Marie-Jeanne, who danced Terpsichore before World War II, Balanchine told Lew Christensen, the first American Apollo, "You are a woodcutter, a swimmer, a football player, a god. He wanted an unformed, unmajestic Apollo. He said that he had in mind a soccer player when he did it for Lifar. Lew had a kind of jerky movement, a roughness." d'Amboise captured much of that in his early performances 20 years later.
Were those performances in the early 60s faster? slower? more or less robotic? I can't say. But there was an energy, a feeling of spontaneity, and a feeling of real suspense each time you saw the ballet. That is missing, it seems to me, in many performances today. My own feeling is that this began with Conrad Ludlow and, later, with Peter Martins, both of whom broke the spell by letting us in on their god-hood much too early in the proceedings. Martins and Farrell were gorgeous, glorious, almost mystical as Apollo and Terpsichore, but my own preference would be for d'Amboise and Adams or Kent.
To answer Jack's question, I don't think Miami has ever attempted to revive the opening and closing elements that Balanchine himself removed. Certainly they were missing in 2004, the last time I saw MCB perform it. My program is punctilious about calling their ballet the "Concert Version."
I guess I'm the only one here looking forward to Piazzolla Caldera
. They did this in 2004. Last spring I got the chance to see Paul Taylor's own company dance it..
Works like this are exciting for the audience and for the dancers. You get to look at familiar dancers in an unfamiliar light. Occasionally, a dancer you may not have noticed before seem to stand out when you see them with a different kind of choreography. I got out my 2004 MCB cast list and found a number of very familiar names. Tricia Albertson, Jeanette Delgado, Callie Manning, Didier Bramaz, and Isanusi Garcia-Rodriguez had solos. In 2004, Delgado was newly promoted to the corps. This was possibly one of her first solo roles. Anyway, it was in Taylor, not Balanchine, that I focused on her and her potential for the first time. I see that I drew a Big Star
in my program next to her name, with a couple of exclamation points.
Edited by bart, 30 October 2012 - 04:21 PM.