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R&J lecture - January 19


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#1 sandik

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 04:04 PM

Doug Fullington hosted another of the company’s lectures on January 19, this one on the designs for their upcoming performances of the Jean-Christophe Maillot Romeo et Juliette. They first performed this version of the ballet in 2008, not long after Peter Boal became artistic director, and then repeated it in 2009, but both of those runs used sets and costumes rented from Maillot’s company in Monte Carlo. For this run, PNB committed to building their own copies of the original designs by Jerome Kaplan and Ernest Pignon-Ernest. – it’s a little like buying a house after being a renter.

Technical Director Norbert Herriges spoke about building the sets, which are quite spare but need to be highly mobile as they shift during the performance many times, acting as projection screens as well as the traditional ‘walls and doors.’ Apparently they made a couple of fine-tuning changes to the designs, taking advantage of the experiences that the Monte Carlo company has had while touring their production. One of the changes was to shift a major panel from a lightweight fabric stretched over a frame to a more solid material – Carla Korbes, who was also on the panel, was thrilled at the news since she stands next to this set piece while she is at the top of a very tall and narrow ramp (the balcony for this production) and said a solid wall would feel much more stable. Since the company is taking this production to NYC with them right after they close the run here (they close here on Sunday February 10 and open the Romeo at City Center on Friday February 15) they have to pack and ship everything (in trucks, not flying) and then load it all into the theater on a super-tight schedule – he spoke about the difficulties in moving between theaters.

Herriges brought a number of shop drawings with him, but honestly, it was hard to compete with the Costume Shop Manager Larae Theige Hascall and Design Assistant Mark Zappone – they had several costumes and props with them, and spoke at length about the challenges of dressing dancers and the specifics of these costumes. For those of us who do a little sewing, it was such a treat to see the workmanship in these pieces – we were geeking out about linings and custom crochet.

Often when someone looks for fabric to copy or replace a costume, the original fabrics will no longer be available – Zappone sounded thrilled and surprised that so much of the original material was still available, though there are several substitutions in this new production. The designs have multiple influences, from the Renaissance through the 1920s and beyond, so there’s a wide variety of construction techniques and structural choices in making clothing that moves for these characters.

We didn’t really hear anything specific about costs, except that a project like this is quite expensive. PNB is sharing this production with the Atlanta Ballet, who will be premiering the work next year, but the PNB shops did all the actual work – Atlanta is sharing costs, but not construction. There is also the potential to lease the production (and make back some of the investment) in the same way that PNB leased from Monte Carlo. I’m not aware of any other companies in the US who are planning to stage this work, but with the exposure they will get at City Center perhaps that will change.

Zappone was very articulate, and very amusing – everyone snickered at his comment on the difference between designing for opera and for ballet (working for the opera “is like dressing a tree”) and his description of certain fittings where a dancer would like a small change made that really won’t be feasible (the fitter will put a pin in the costume while the dancer is there, and then take it out again later – this is called a “French Alteration,” except in France, where it is called an “English Alteration.”) Hascall commented on the challenge of working with Kaplan, saying that it was “easier to work with dead designers.”

Apparently the company is considering hiring Jerome Kaplan to make new designs for their Giselle – which sounds like they hope to bring it back relatively soon.

Carla Korbes spoke about the rehearsal process – this is the third time that she’s prepared the role of Juliette, though only the second time to perform. She’ll be dancing with Seth Orza this time (she was paired with Lucien Postelwaite before) and that Orza is “diving into the role – his ears are open.” She’s known him since they were students together at SAB, and is very comfortable working with him.

If I understood her correctly, she believes that this time around she’s getting closer to the musicality that the stagers want, but that she feels the emotional depth was already a part of her performance. When she was asked to characterize the style, she said that Maillot has made “beautiful pedestrian movement” as well as using more conventional vocabulary, and that the simple stuff was often the hardest to master.

#2 SandyMcKean

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 05:26 PM

sandik,

I was out of town and had to miss this lecture. Thanks so much for taking the time to reprise it for us!

#3 Jayne

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:23 PM

Since the company is taking this production to NYC with them right after they close the run here (they close here on Sunday February 10 and open the Romeo at City Center on Friday February 15) they have to pack and ship everything (in trucks, not flying) and then load it all into the theater on a super-tight schedule – he spoke about the difficulties in moving between theaters.

Pray there are no storms during the interim time.

PNB is sharing this production with the Atlanta Ballet, who will be premiering the work next year, but the PNB shops did all the actual work – Atlanta is sharing costs, but not construction. There is also the potential to lease the production (and make back some of the investment) in the same way that PNB leased from Monte Carlo. I’m not aware of any other companies in the US who are planning to stage this work, but with the exposure they will get at City Center perhaps that will change.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal also perform this version. I don't know if they own their sets or rented from Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo.

The Executive Director of Atlanta Ballet, Arturo Jacobus, has ties to PNB, he was President of PNB 1993-2002 left to become Executive Director of San Francisco Ballet. So it makes sense that they could make this business arrangement work.

PNB also shared the costs for Glazunov / Caniparoli "Seasons" with Louisville Ballet. And of course the Balanchine new designs for Coppelia were shared between SFB, PNB and Boston Ballet. I'm all for this sharing, the cities are far enough apart that they are not competing for audience members or donors, and if the financial savings keeps the companies financially sound, all the better.

#4 sandik

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:59 PM

PNB is sharing this production with the Atlanta Ballet, who will be premiering the work next year, but the PNB shops did all the actual work – Atlanta is sharing costs, but not construction. There is also the potential to lease the production (and make back some of the investment) in the same way that PNB leased from Monte Carlo. I’m not aware of any other companies in the US who are planning to stage this work, but with the exposure they will get at City Center perhaps that will change.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal also perform this version. I don't know if they own their sets or rented from Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo.


I didn't know this -- I wonder when Pittsburgh got their production. James Moore, who dances Romeo with Kaori Nakamura, came to PNB from Pittsburgh...

edited to add -- they premiered their production in 2009

PNB also shared the costs for Glazunov / Caniparoli "Seasons" with Louisville Ballet. And of course the Balanchine new designs for Coppelia were shared between SFB, PNB and Boston Ballet. I'm all for this sharing, the cities are far enough apart that they are not competing for audience members or donors, and if the financial savings keeps the companies financially sound, all the better.


The gods know everyone borrows and rents (we rented the sets and costumes from Houston for the Giselle in 2011, rather than trying to build a new production while they staged it from scratch as well) -- I'm wondering now what the fate of the Ming Cho Lee set and costumes for the Kent Stowell R&J might be.

#5 Helene

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 06:06 PM

Thank you so much for your report on the lecture for those of us who couldn't be there :flowers:

#6 Helene

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 10:07 AM

The gods know everyone borrows and rents (we rented the sets and costumes from Houston for the Giselle in 2011, rather than trying to build a new production while they staged it from scratch as well) -- I'm wondering now what the fate of the Ming Cho Lee set and costumes for the Kent Stowell R&J might be.

Not just the sets and costumes, but the choreography and the production. At the end of Marina Harss' new interview with Nancy Reynolds, Reynolds says,

Who do you think are the interesting choreographers of our time?

Probably Wheeldon, Ratmansky, and Morris Ė not very original choices! James Kudelka and Alonzo King have done interesting things in the past although Iím not familiar with their recent work. But I donít think we know enough about whatís around us. Kent Stowell did a gorgeous Romeo and Juliet Ė to Tchaikovsky, by the way Ė and a wonderful Nutcracker with designs by Maurice Sendak. (Full disclosure: heís a personal friend). I think Trey McIntyre is very talented. Iíd like to see more work by Aszure Barton, and Iím curious about Pam Tanowitz. Then thereís someone called Paul Vasterling in Tennessee who I hear is good. But these last named are not widely recognized because the big companies mainly assign choreography to their own or turn to well-known outsiders. They should sit and watch lots and lots of videotapes. Iíll bet there are good people working out there who most of us donít get a chance to know about.


http://dancetabs.com...ation-director/

I've always loved this production, set to a beautiful compiled and arranged score to Tchaikovsky, and not the usual suspect excerpts.


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