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Video of Ballet Imperial...Balanchine


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#1 pherank

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 05:42 PM

No doubt for a very limited time - there is a YouTube video of the Miami City Ballet dancing Ballet Imperial in 2011 (not 2001 as marked):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdv681E8eyg

Although the beginning is missing, most of the ballet looks to be there.

"If Balanchine had any resistance to composing a “tutu and tiara” extravaganza, it does not reveal itself in Ballet Imperial. I think he had a ball making it. With an ensemble of sixteen women and six men, two female demi-soloists, two male demi-soloists, two female principals, and one cavalier, this was the largest cast for a classical ballet he had ever worked with, and he deployed them with bountiful zest and variety. The cup ran over. Within the first few minutes of the first movement, we see the ensemble in diagonals, diamonds, a huge circle of sixteen women, smaller concentric circles, a pinwheel, and plain old straight lines just for good measure.

Although the technical challenges in other Balanchine ballets tend to be concealed within the choreographic fabric, in Ballet Imperial they are boldly, almost gleefully exposed. Or at least they are for the two principal women. Balanchine threw the hook at them. He was able to do so because he had in this company two extraordinary virtuosos—Marie_Jeanne and Gisella Caccialanza. Could he have conceived of an imperial ballet without them? I doubt it. But there they were, tossing off all the hardest stuff at allegro tempo—all kinds of pirouettes, jumps, and beats, small, intricate footwork, and moments when they just flew. I think especially of the pas de trois in the first movement, when Caccialanza and two men bound through space in big jetés with such force and amplitude so as to banish the perimeters of the stage.

...Ballet imperial is in three movements. The first is eighteen minutes, half of the entire ballet. Eighteen minutes is a very long time; in fact, it’s long enough to be a ballet unto itself, about the same duration as its sibling, Allegro Brillante, and Concerto Barocco. To keep the juices flowing, Balanchine develops the hierarchical structure of Petipa to an unprecedented degree. In the nineteenth century it was common to set the two principal dancers against an ensemble; those who danced their variations alone were soloists. Only rarely did the three ranks dance together at the same time. It was Balanchine who put them in constant interplay so that different gradations of technical expression could be savored all at once. The full stage picture divided among the many, the few, and the one or two creates its own musical and pictorial drama. And their entrances and exits, multitudinous in Ballet Imperial, also provide a gradual layering of excitement. Ballet Imperial adds an additional subculture, the demi-soloists. Interestingly, they don’t dance by themselves in this ballet; rather, they always accompany the higher-ups."

—Nancy Goldner, More Balanchine Variations

#2 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 08:32 PM

Oh, how I wish I could ever see this in full tutu/backdrop regalia...

#3 pherank

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 08:48 PM

Oh, how I wish I could ever see this in full tutu/backdrop regalia...


Yes sir, that would be an "extravaganza". Though I do wonder how the dancers could run beneath one another's arms wearing pancake tutus. That could have been disasterous at times.

#4 Helene

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 10:58 PM

They do it in Seattle:

http://www.pnb.org/A...etImperial.aspx

#5 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 06:32 AM

I think that's how Ballet Theatre did it, at least for a while? I saw Susan Jaffe in it.

#6 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 12:59 PM

They do it in Seattle:

http://www.pnb.org/A...etImperial.aspx


"PNB’s production is based on the 1964 version of New York City Ballet, which Francia Russell notated as Ballet Mistress and staged for the PNB premiere in 1997. All the imperial splendor of the original is now present, including elegant costumes, designed by Martin Pakledinaz, and a new backdrop depicting a room of the Winter Palace with windows looking out upon the River Neva, by PNB scenic artist Edith Whitsett."
Posted Image

Oh, how beautiful that must be....

#7 kfw

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 01:06 PM

I think that's how Ballet Theatre did it, at least for a while? I saw Susan Jaffe in it.


I remember both Part and Vishneva in the principal's role in 2005.

#8 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 01:18 PM

I must say I got emotional watching the Parisian reaction to the curtain calls in the MCB video...THAT was an extravaganza...Posted Image High point when Villella took his bows.

#9 Jack Reed

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 02:01 PM

Oh, gosh! I do so wish I had been there! They never got applause like that in Florida, in my experience. Vive la France! BUT the date on the YT page (and consequently in pherank's post, but merci beaucoup all the same, pherank) has a slip of the finger - they were there in Paris in 2011, not 2001.

And who were there? It's a little hard to be sure, but I believe the cast is led by Mary Carmen Catoya and Carlos Guerra, and the demi was probably Katia Carranza. But there's no doubt that the bearded gentleman, who gets applause from the dancers, is Francisco Renno, MCB's pianist. (He plays for their classes and rehearsals, too.) (And of course the little man in the dark gray suit is Edward Villella.)

#10 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 02:23 PM

Catoya's fouettes are IMPOSSIBLE to miss. Yes, that little devilish dancer is indeed Miss Mary Carmen, Jack.

#11 bart

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 03:40 PM

And who were there? It's a little hard to be sure, but I believe the cast is led by Mary Carmen Catoya and Carlos Guerra, and the demi was probably Katia Carranza.


Jack, I believe the dancers are Catoya and Penteado, with Patricia Delgado in the second female role, attended by Cedeiro and Bramaz.

I've seen this particular video before. The beauty and intricacy of the choreography, and the style and verve of the performance, overcome even the amateur videography, imperfect sight lines, and tinny sound. Ballet Imperial was also on one of MCB's programs after their return from Paris, so several of us got to see the same dancers on stage here in the U.S.

It is a ballet which invariably becomes my favorite ballet of all, at least for quite a while after I've seen it, or until another "favorite ballet" is performed.

I rather like the long, soft dresses, a change Balanchine made in 1973 when he also changed the title from Ballet Imperial to Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.. I definitely prefer the all-white look to to the vrious colors of the classical tutus in the Seattle photo. Anna Kissselgoff in the Times wrote: "Now presented only as pure dance, it does not seem quite as interesting on its own." I disagree. Balanchine had been simplifying this production gradually over the years.

"Imperial" does have connotations of richness and elaborate detail, especially when we think of the elaborate uniforms and court dress under Nicholas II (or, for that matter, Napoleon). For me, it's easier to see the dancing as Balanchine redesigned it and as MCB performs it. I am willing to sacrifice imperial ostentation for that.

#12 California

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 03:54 PM

A trivial matter, perhaps: Why does MCB still call this Ballet Imperial? When Balanchine changed the name to Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 (in 1973), he dropped the scenery and switched to the floating dresses. That seems to be what MCB is now performing. Or was the choreography also revised when Balanchine changed the name and MCB is doing the original 1941 version?

#13 Helene

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 04:11 PM

According to "Choreography by Balanchine" (Catalogue), for

1973: 382 TSCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO No. 2 (briefly called PIANO CONCERTO No. 2

NOTE: Originally presented by American Ballet Caravan, Rio de Janeiro, 1941, titled Ballet Imperial. While the choreograpy is essentially the same as the Sadler's Wells (Royal Ballet) presentation of 1950, the Imperial Russian decor and tutus of the 1964 New York City Ballet production were replaced in 1973 by simple chiffon dresses and a plain backdrop.

1964: 349 BALLET IMPERIAL (from 1973 called TSCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2)

NOTE: Originally presented by American Ballet Caravan, Rio de Janeiro, 1941. This production used the original choreography with minor revisions and an augmented corps de ballet.

1941: 194 BALLET IMPERIAL (from 1973 called TSCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2)

REVISIONS: 1950, Sadler's Wells [later Royal Ballet]: Pantomime deleted and new pas de deux added in second movement; somewhat different groupings in third movement; new scenery and costumes by Eugene Berman.

NEW PRODUCTIONS BY BALANCHINE COMPANIES: New York City Ballet: 1964, 1941 version with augmented corps de ballet and minor revisions, with new scenery by Rouben Ter-Arutunian (based on the 1941 production) and new costumes by Karinska; 1973, 1950 version (titled Piano Concerto No. 2, then Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2), staged without scenery, with new costumes by Karinska (classical tutus replaced by chiffon skirts), and lighting by Ronald Bates.


There are two strains of the ballet:

1941 -> 1964, "with augmented corps de ballet and minor revisions" (The version Francia Russell notated and stage for PNB and I'm guessing for the Mariinsky Ballet as one of the first two ballets -- the other was Suzanne Farrell's staging of "Scotch Symphony" -- officially staged for the company.)

1950-> "1973, with deleted pantomime and new pas de deux added in second movement; somewhat different groupings in third movement." (What NYCB performs now.)

#14 California

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 04:28 PM

I wonder if those who saw the MCB version in the theater still have the program notes. Do they explain why they use the name Ballet Imperial? Of the different versions in Helene's message, which are they doing? Presumably Villela leaned toward versions he himself performed at NYCB. Any information on this?

#15 jsmu

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 07:32 PM

cubanmiamiboy, I agree; this ballet desperately wants tutus and columns. The fact that Balanchine often changed his ballets in later years does not mean that the changes were always better (Mendelssohn, for example, was always dissatisfied with the Italian Symphony finale--the greatest finale he ever wrote!--and thank god he never tinkered with it.) ; in fact they were sometimes much worse (the horrendous deletions from Apollo being Exhibit A.) If there is any ostentation anywhere in this work of art, it is in the mediocre (for Tchaikovsky) score which Balanchine turned into a masterpiece--and it is most certainly present there. The grandeur of formal costumes is necessary for that and several other reasons; there are tons of great Balanchine ballets in just this kind of nondescript little chiffon schmattas (sigh) and they are fine that way (Allegro Brilliante, etc, etc.) The PNB costumes ain't Karinska, that is for sure, but they are still better than chiffon here.


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