pherank

Video of Ballet Imperial...

50 posts in this topic

I thought we already had a thread about the videos from this tour, but I don't see it now. So . . .

Theme and Variations is here.

Square Dance is here.

And In the Night is here.

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Yes, Balanchine and Danilova worked extremely closely on many projects, including the Coppelia of 1974.

It is very likely that Balanchine chivalrously downplayed his contribution to the 'Chopiniana' in deference to Danilova,

who after all had been not only one of his first ballerinas but his common-law wife.

It is, however, impossible to imagine the dreadful costumes having been Danilova's idea; one of her favorite words was 'perfume,'

one which she used constantly in coaching, and there was nothing perfumed about the little exercise outfits this show was presented in.

It is also hard to imagine Balanchine thinking such unflattering and brief excuses for costumes were a good idea

in a ballet often thought to epitomize the Romantic ballet; probably von Aroldingen was right and, as usual,

there was not enough money. That, supposedly, was why we were never given Balanchine's Sleeping Beauty.

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the video, and subsequent discussion, are jewels on this board. Thank you, thank you - I have enjoyed watching and reading all of it. MCB just looks so *fresh* when they dance it. I love the swing of the "nighty" costumes, but I also adore Martin's costumes. I've had a long week, and this is a lovely tall, glass of cool water to refresh my thirsty soul.

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did the Royal Ballet never dance this concerto in shifts?

maybe it was then called TCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO. 2 (as in recent NYCB parlance)?

or maybe it didn't happen at all?

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I shivered with shock when I saw the dancers were not wearing tutus.

For me it means a loss of grandeur.

This review by Clement Crisp tells the story as it should be told.

http://www.ft.com/cm...00779e2340.html

I can't say that I'm terribly bothered by Balanchine's remakes and redos, which always tended towards reduction and minimalism. That's just the way of the artist, and it's up to the rest of the world to take what they can from the different versions. It does bother me when it is assumed by the 'authorities' that the last known version is THE version and all others should be shunned. That's a total misunderstanding of creative process and art in general.

My issue with the costumes in this particular version of Ballet Imperial is that the movement of the long chiffon dresses is often counter to the actual dance movements. I think a small diameter, stiff tutu would be appropriate: dividing the dancer's body horizontally, and revealing, not disguising, the particular movements in BI. There is an article on tutus that I remembered when thinking about all this. I think that Lopotkina's comment fits well:

"My favorite tutu is the one I wear in the Pavlova and Cecchetti scene from Neumeier’s The Nutcracker. It’s a classical tutu, one that would have been worn by late 19th-century ballerinas in rehearsal. It was copied by Maryinsky tailors from Pavlova’s costume. It is light as air and it’s easy to move in. The classical steps come out better; all the positions line up logically and beautifully."

--Lopotkina

http://www.dancemaga...y-Favorite-Tutu

The caveat being, (and I think I mentioned this earlier), that running beneath the arms of the other dancers could not be performed well in large, stiff tutus. Perhaps that wasn't part of the original choreography?

But anyway, it's not a huge deal to me, though I would very much like to see the older version performed to compare the two.

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The Catalogue, which doesn't give great detail, said that groupings in the 3rd movement were changed in the 1973 version, based on the 1950 version for the Royal Ballet, which had tutus.

The version Russell staged for PNB has tutus and, I'm almost sure, choreography where they go past and under each other.

When I see the ballet in tutus, it looks to me like a formal ballet with touches of modern, and when I see it in chiffon shifts, it looks to me like a neo-classical ballet with tributes to a more formal ballet. Either way, it always strikes me as lyrical, which is one of the reason I think Somova looked lovely in the second movement.

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When I see the ballet in tutus, it looks to me like a formal ballet with touches of modern, and when I see it in chiffon shifts, it looks to me like a neo-classical ballet with tributes to a more formal ballet.

An excellent distinction. Thanks, Helene, for putting it so simply. You make me look more closely at my preference for non-tutu in this work.

That makes sense when I consider that my introduction to ballet, other than some Swan Lakes and a bit of the old Ballet Theater repertoire, was Balanchine as neoclassicist, especially with Stravinsky. Perhaps we tend to prefer, even in maturity, the aesthetic that we learned to love in our younger days..

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RE: Mme. Hermine's excellent video find - it is almost as if we are dealing with two different ballets, even though the changes are largely 'superficial'. But the traditional costumes, and painted backdrop, instantly add to the 'message' of the music and the choreography. I like both versions, and am happy that we can have both - it wouldn't be as good to be forced to view only a single approved version.

In the search for MORE of this video footage (and I'm sure there is more somewhere in this world), I ran into this page:

http://www.rohcollections.org.uk/work.aspx?work=620

But what exactly does "performances online" mean?

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pherank:

it is almost as if we are dealing with two different ballets

But the second is not Balanchine's – he would be rather embarrassed. It looks like a parody, a scene from a Rene Clair film, perhaps Entr'acte. It has no propulsion, no wit.

Balanchine was always deconstructing formalist ballet, adding strange steps and accents and reversals, little jokes, doing what was least expected – look at the first three acts of Brahms-Schoenberg. This puts back in all the mannerisms Balanchine took out.

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But what exactly does "performances online" mean?

It means the website carries details of the casting etc for each of those performances, taken from the nightly programme sheet. No video, I'm afraid.

The RB Ballet Imperial clip is taken from the gala reopening of the Royal Opera House in 1999 and there may be a few more seconds of it but that's all - it was a programme of short extracts from significant works from the past repertoire.

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But what exactly does "performances online" mean?

It means the website carries details of the casting etc for each of those performances, taken from the nightly programme sheet. No video, I'm afraid.

The RB Ballet Imperial clip is taken from the gala reopening of the Royal Opera House in 1999 and there may be a few more seconds of it but that's all - it was a programme of short extracts from significant works from the past repertoire.

Ah well, no treasure trove to hope for. If the clip was from a gala performance, then you are right, there won't be much more footage.

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But the second is not Balanchine's – he would be rather embarrassed. It looks like a parody, a scene from a Rene Clair film, perhaps Entr'acte. It has no propulsion, no wit.

Balanchine was always deconstructing formalist ballet, adding strange steps and accents and reversals, little jokes, doing what was least expected – look at the first three acts of Brahms-Schoenberg. This puts back in all the mannerisms Balanchine took out.

Quiggan, I know what you mean, especially after a second viewing. For example: you say "It has no propulsion." This is an almost heavy ' --"imperial" in a bad sense -- version of what we saw MCB doing in Paris.

I could recognize the familiar the choreography, but saw little of what makes the choreography "dance" the way MCB achieves.

Towards the end of the clip there's a bit in which the ballerina pirouettes to the right/ then to the left. This is repeated, until all the women on stage are doing it. The lines of dances are straight; everyone faces downstage. Because the choreography at this point is relatively static (in terms of use of stage), the Royal version does work here.. However, anything requiring swift alterations in direction, shifts from jump to turn, etc., was performed without Balanchine qualities.

The RB's design also sabotages this wonderful work. I realize this is a small-screen video, but the set seems dark, over-decorated, cave-line, claustrophobic. I had the sense that the set was slowly closing in on the dancers, who might -- before the end of the ballet -- be swallowed whole and digested.

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But the second is not Balanchine's – he would be rather embarrassed. It looks like a parody, a scene from a Rene Clair film, perhaps Entr'acte. It has no propulsion, no wit.

Balanchine was always deconstructing formalist ballet, adding strange steps and accents and reversals, little jokes, doing what was least expected – look at the first three acts of Brahms-Schoenberg. This puts back in all the mannerisms Balanchine took out.

Quiggan, I know what you mean, especially after a second viewing. For example: you say "It has no propulsion." This is an almost heavy ' --"imperial" in a bad sense -- version of what we saw MCB doing in Paris.

I'm glad he didn't decide to strip down T&V...And considering that Symphony in C was just in the process-(off wth the sets and costume colors, you oldies!)-I wonder if it would had ended up also sans tutus at one point. Glad it didn't happen either.

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I could recognize the familiar the choreography, but saw little of what makes the choreography "dance" the way MCB achieves.

The Miami Paris video, photographed from an upper tier, really shows off the brilliant structure of this ballet – as opposed to Apollo, Rubies and Concerto Barocco, whose triple layering is better seen straight on. Yes, much of the ballet is lost in 19c costumes of Seligmannesque heft.

In the Miami/Paris Ballet Imperial there are two extraordinary solos for women which are set to agitated piano passages and which wouldn't work in tutus. There's a brilliant cadenza beginning at 4:45 which ends in a series of hard grand jetes around the stage, usually done by men (or maybe by Muriel Maffre or Tina LeBlanc in Sylvia). And there's another beginning at 10:00 with the woman running around half on-point, half off-point, while the man stands in place watching. These are mad person Maria Callas scenes.

Balanchine, like the one-shoe-off, one-shoe-on soloist – or the Helgi Tomasson/Gonzalo Garcia part in Baiser de la fee – is always doing two things at once. He is deconstructing and modernizing – and fleeing from – the old St Petersburg school and at the same time demonstrating its charms.

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I could recognize the familiar the choreography, but saw little of what makes the choreography "dance" the way MCB achieves.

The Miami Paris video, photographed from an upper tier, really shows off the brilliant structure of this ballet – as opposed to Apollo, Rubies and Concerto Barocco, whose triple layering is better seen straight on.

Agree entirely.

(1) Watching Apollo last weekend from 4 different locations, it actually amazed me how inadequate a sideview (one level up) was. This is a work meant to be seen from the front.

(2) Love that phrase "Seligmannesque heft." The Royal's costumes are the Goodyear blimps of tutus, as its set is a version of the Belly of the Whale..

(3) Regarding "desconstruction." It's interesting that essentially the same point was made in by Lourdes Lopez in a lecture/demonstration at the MCB studios. There, however, the point was made in terms of an extended comparison of "classical" and "neoclassical." This relates to your point about Balanchine's "doing two things at once." For example:

He is deconstructing and modernizing – and fleeing from – the old St Petersburg school and at the same time demonstrating its charms.

There are many charms to 19th century reconstructions -- or, perhaps more accurately, to modern attempts to re-capture in some way the glamour and look of what are imagined to be original productions. That's not a bad thing. But I have to wonder about an aesthetic that tries to impose that look on what are, essentially, quite different works. To me, it's equally -- in my feeling, MORE -- important to retain a living sense of what 20th-century "neoclassicism" was and is, and how it revitalized and possibly saved a dying art form.

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(1) Watching Apollo last weekend from 4 different locations, it actually amazed me how inadequate a sideview (one level up) was. This is a work meant to be seen from the front.

(2) Love that phrase "Seligmannesque heft." The Royal's costumes are the Goodyear blimps of tutus, as its set is a version of the Belly of the Whale.

Agreed. Many key poses in Apollo have a flat aspect, tableau quality to them - befitting the ancient Greek subject matter. Seeing things from the sides would reveal too much of the 'seams' (especially regarding the sunrays arabesque pose). I've decided that the balcony view shown in the video of the MCB is a pretty excellent viewpoint for this particular ballet. The camera work is a little shaky at times, but I'm just happy the event was captured.

I'm not sure the Royal ballet dancers would want to be thought of as the 'Michelin Man' dancers, but I can agree that the RB version certainly looks dark (in this video), and there's a certain careful, deliberate quality to the dancing, rather than the sort of buoyant, exuberant feel that really engages an audience. But it's a short clip, and who knows how things went later in the season (assuming that this is just a taste of what was to come for RB ticket holders).

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... a dying art form.

Right along "Apollo's Angels" lines, bart..? happy.png (That funeral has been predicted since forever, I guess...)

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Cristian, please consider that phrase in the context in which I wrote it.. The complete sentence reads like this:

To me, it's equally -- in my feeling, MORE -- important to retain a living sense of what 20th-century "neoclassicism" was and is, and how it revitalized and possibly saved a dying art form.

I was talking about Balanchine's development of neoclassiscism, something which began as long ago as the late 1920s. I was NOT talking about what might happen at some point in the future, as your reference to Jennifer Homans' book implies.

I can't think of anyone who would disagree with the idea that classical ballet in the 1920s and for a long time afterwards was in a very bad way in western Europe, almost non-existent in the Americas, and surviving precariously in the Soviet Union. This decline had definitely been turned around by the 1970s in most of the western world. My point was that Balanchine's neoclassicism -- which honored his love of classical ballet while refusing to be satisfied with merely repeating it -- was one of those factors responsible for that revival. Is this really controversial?

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Cristian, please consider that phrase in the context in which I wrote it.. The complete sentence reads like this:

To me, it's equally -- in my feeling, MORE -- important to retain a living sense of what 20th-century "neoclassicism" was and is, and how it revitalized and possibly saved a dying art form.

I was talking about Balanchine's development of neoclassiscism, something which began as long ago as the late 1920s. I was NOT talking about what might happen at some point in the future, as your reference to Jennifer Homans' book implies.

I was joking, bart...happy.png It is perhaps that the whole "dying" scenario has been repeated and predicted for so long by so many that we-( I )- can get a little defensive-(let's watch the "dying" corpse as much as there's still some life within it!)-that I actually and definitely tend to oversee Mr. B's unique contribution to such work, which still even after his own death, keeps inflicting life into our venerated art form. But you know me by now, right...? flowers.gif

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I wanted to add this comment by Mary Ellen Moylan from I Remember Balanchine about the demands of the role in Ballet Imperial.

I don't think I have ever danced a more difficult ballet in my entire career than Ballet Imperial. One of the reasons was because the very first entrance onstage is to a piano solo. It requires turns on a dime and stop, and great control and speed. There is no preparatory warm-up with the audience. You come bursting in, and you don't have a way to meet your public.

She was also doing Balanchine's Rosalinda in which José Limón was her partner. "After the performance of Ballet Imperial I put on my cloak, left my makeup on, and tore down in a taxi to Forty-fourth Street Theater to appear in the second act of Rosalinda."

Moylan followed Marie-Jean in the role. "She was spectacular. I thought she was just it – perfect. I adored her. Talk about role models – to me she was the perfect ideal of Balanchine."

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