Jump to content


Video of Ballet Imperial...Balanchine


  • Please log in to reply
49 replies to this topic

#16 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,222 posts

Posted 27 November 2012 - 09:20 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?


I believe you are technically correct - MCB 'should' be using Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 for the name, but Ballet Imperial is a great name that people have always reponded to. Balancine was in the habit of switching from poetic name to whatever the name of the music happened to be, when he reached a point where he seemed satisfied with his choreography. So the choreography truly becomes one with the music.

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.


I agree JSMU - sometimes the particular costume really matters, and relying on a stripped-down approach only goes so far. As Balanchine's method became more and more concerned with pure dance, the black and white leotards and white chiffons became the norm. It's not really one of my favorite things about Balanchine - it just happens to be.

#17 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,512 posts

Posted 27 November 2012 - 09:50 PM

California, IIRC, Villella responded to your question in one of his pre-performance talks when someone in his audience asked it that MCB calls the ballet Ballet Imperial instead of Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 because Ballet Imperial is an easier name to sell. (I've been looking all over BA! without being able to find any of my accounts of these talks.)

If you have a look at the video in pherank's first post (while you can, it may not remain), I think you'll see that second-movement pas deux begin about 20 minutes into the video, where the boy stands downstage, back to us, and she enters upstage and comes down to him between columns of corps. I never saw the earlier versions of the choreography or the costumes and find this version wholly satisfying, but then, as I've just said, I don't really know what I'm missing.

Edited to answer California explicitly, what we see here is what MCB has been doing - or most of it, acknowledging the gaps in the video - in the several years since they mounted this ballet, the 1973 version, as regards both choreography and costumes.

In the case of Apollo and to a lesser extent, Emeralds, for example, I'm less happy with the later version than with the earlier, which in the case of Apollo Suzanne Farrell prefers to present with her troupe. In the case of Valse Fantaisie, I like the middle version (1953, danced recently by MCB) better than the last, 1967 setting, but these are really different ballets to the same music.

Even so, I hesitate to generalize about Balanchine's revisions; I gather the first version of La Source was too strenuous and it was made successful only by insertion of some corps material, for example. And in tinkering with his distillation of Swan Lake, he eliminated the synchronized little dance for the four cygnets which has always seemed to me mechanical when I see it in traditional productions. The two minutes pas d'action fight of the Prodigal's servants, shown recently by TSFB and included in the MCB version of Prodigal Son, looks weak to me; and the restored divertissment in La Sonnambula, staged by Frederic Franklin in Cincinnati a few years ago looked like weak choreography to weak music.

Edited by Jack Reed, 28 November 2012 - 08:46 AM.


#18 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,239 posts

Posted 27 November 2012 - 11:55 PM

I've seen a video of the '67 version of Valse Fantaisie, and I definitely prefer the earlier 53 one. As per Apollo, it looked to me as if I had gotten late to a dress rehearsal.

#19 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 28 November 2012 - 07:43 AM

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?

The program contains no reference to title or costume differences. I agree with Jack -- Villella knew the BT name would sell better in his markets.

As to the costumes, I seem to be the only one here who prefers the leaner, simpler updated version. This interests me, since I enjoy opulence and spectacle on certain ballets as much as the next guy. I will have to think about this, but I suspect my preference for LESS in decor has to do with the quality of movement and the definite classical or late-classical. impression I receive from the music. This score is not Swan Lake or even Sleeping Beauty.

#20 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,512 posts

Posted 28 November 2012 - 08:11 AM

... I agree with Jack -- Villella knew the BT name would sell better in his markets.


But how did he know that?

As to the costumes, I seem to be the only one here who prefers the leaner, simpler updated version.


No, I prefer them too, especially considering the "speed" of movement:

I will have to think about this, but I suspect my preference for LESS in decor has to do with the quality of movement and the definite classical or late-classical. impression I receive from the music. This score is not Swan Lake or even Sleeping Beauty.


Nor is it Theme and Variations - I mean the last movement of the same composer's third Suite for Orchestra. Here I want to see tutus, but not the big floppy pancake ones ABT performs that ballet in, as though it were SB, but the shorter stiffer ones NYCB did.

#21 MakarovaFan

MakarovaFan

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 461 posts

Posted 28 November 2012 - 11:41 AM

Many thanks, pherank, for posting this glorious performance! Posted Image Watching it I was transported back to the early '80's when I saw NYCB dance Ballet Imperial with a glittering Merrill Ashley in one of the lead roles. What a gorgeous and fiendishly difficult looking ballet! Kudos to Eddie Villella for prepping his dancers so beautifully.

#22 jsmu

jsmu

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 173 posts

Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:20 PM

MakarovaFan, nothing since could come close to equalling Ashley, Lavery, and Nichols in TPC#2. I hope you saw Nichols as the second ballerina (she was later one of the greatest exponents of the prima role)--unforgettable in the pirouettes with arms en couronne near the end of the first movement pas de trois. In those days ballerinas often 'graduated' from the soloist to the principal role in this ballet (as more recently with Reichlen and Bouder.)

pherank, you are correct; it should be TPC#2 in this version. Chiffon, no mime, and no double saut de basques equals TPC#2, lol. It's one thing to have Agon or The Four Temperaments in black and white--for those lean 'modern' lines it is almost imperative. One of Balanchine's great flops was the restaged Les Sylphides of 72 which he called 'Chopiniana;' it had dreadful little leotards and short skirts, lending to the slow sustained lifts an air of 'indiscreet revelation' as a critic pungently observed at the time.
von Aroldingen was one of the principals and recalls that there was a beautiful costume made--white, three layers/tiers, flouncy--which she tried on and loved. She further said that 'all those slow landings with NOTHING ON were VERY DISTURBING!'

cubanmiamiboy--yes. although Balanchine saved some gorgeous steps from the divine 1953 Valse-Fantaisie (the manege of pas couru-grand jetes; the releves in arabesque...) unless one sees someone like Paul, Ashley, or Nichols in the 1967 version it is nowhere near as marvelous. Melinda Roy was also great in this--jumping was, of course, her thing. that manege was jaw-dropping when she did it--she almost didn't touch the ground.

#23 pherank

pherank

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,222 posts

Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:22 PM

Many thanks, pherank, for posting this glorious performance! Posted Image Watching it I was transported back to the early '80's when I saw NYCB dance Ballet Imperial with a glittering Merrill Ashley in one of the lead roles. What a gorgeous and fiendishly difficult looking ballet! Kudos to Eddie Villella for prepping his dancers so beautifully.


I'm happy to have been of service. ;)

MCB has 3 other videos of Imperial Ballet that are short segments (and professionally shot), but at least they are longer than the ususal 40 second segment. SOME companies understand the improtance of advertising the work in a meaningful way - if I saw clips like this on a ballet company website, I would definitely want to go see the actual performance. The 40 second 'commercials' show nothing of use.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDBByeE2-2o

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6r3CO1v_Lc

#24 rg

rg

    Emeralds Circle

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,439 posts

Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:34 PM

while Balanchine was head of NYCB when the Sylphides/Chopiniana mentioned above was presented, it was not credited to Balanchine but to Danilova.

as follows:

Sylphides Chor: Aleksandra Danilova after Mikhail Fokin; mus: Frédéric Chopin. Original title: Chopiniana. Perf: New York City, New York State Theater, Jan 20, 1972, New York City Ballet.

#25 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,153 posts

Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:38 PM

The second ballerina role was my introduction to Ashley Bouder, and it was clear where she was heading. The first second ballerina I saw was Maria Calegari in 1982 -- Kyra Nichols was the lead -- and she did the lead role in 1986.

I was lucky to have seen Miranda Weese in the NYCB version (with Philip Neal) in 2004, and then in "Ballet Imperial" with PNB in 2007 (with Casey Herd), and then the Third Movement in 2008 for Casey Herd's farewell performance. (He moved to Dutch National Ballet.)

#26 kfw

kfw

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,272 posts

Posted 28 November 2012 - 03:58 PM

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.

#27 jsmu

jsmu

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 173 posts

Posted 28 November 2012 - 07:56 PM

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.

#28 Jayne

Jayne

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 870 posts

Posted 28 November 2012 - 08:55 PM

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.

#29 leonid17

leonid17

    Platinum Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,413 posts

Posted 02 December 2012 - 06:39 AM

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

#30 rg

rg

    Emeralds Circle

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,439 posts

Posted 02 December 2012 - 12:14 PM

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?


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):