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Christopher Wheeldon Takes On Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron"An American in Paris" - new Broadway production


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#121 sidwich

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 01:11 PM

It's a charming homage to Kelly, but besides the obvious challenges by his different body type, I think Fairchild lacks the crispness in his phrasing necessary to make a piece like sing.  In order to make a jazz-influenced piece like this work, it takes a real consciousness of the groove of the music, and Fairchild doesn't quite have a firm grasp on it, so the accents aren't really landing with real impact.  It makes me wonder how he'll do on the tap pieces in An American in Paris.

 

In case anyone wants to compare, here in Gene Kelly in Ballin' the Jack:

 



#122 Buddy

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 03:51 PM

 

None of this may make much difference in the new version of "An American in Paris," which will be staged by a ballet choreographer and danced by two ballet dancers, which may shift the show's balance decisively toward ballet.

 

 

This is a very good and highly interesting point, dirac. I’m intrigued by this possibility of bringing an increased ballet aesthetic and sensitivity to the ‘broadway stage.’ 

 

Sidwich, thanks for Gene Kelly’s original version. In this particular work I actually see a lot less difference than I would have expected between the feel what Gene Kelly did and what Robert Fairchild is doing . I’m rather fond of the grace and fineness of Robert Fairchild’s take. No, it’s not what I would strongly and literally associate with Gene Kelly, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be very successful.



#123 mimsyb

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 04:22 PM

It’s also interesting to see how Fairchild’s intense classical training lends a different accent to his (charming) rendering of Kelly’s choreography (as staged by Woetzel).  His feet are distinctly pointed when it’s not really called for, his turns and poses just a shade too precise when they should look tossed off. He could also work on prop use – the hat could play a bigger role here.

I have to agree with these observations.  Fairchild is indeed, a fine technician, but as of now doesn't possess that extraordinary improvised look to the dancing that Kelly brought to everything he did.  Yes, Kelly was "choreographed" also, but somehow it did always look "tossed off".  As if he just decided that moment to "dance".  That was his "joy".  His smile told it all!  His legs weren't always straight, his toes weren't pointed like ballet dancers tend to do.  His upper body at times looked like he drove a truck rather than danced piroettes.  His approach to the music didn't seem to be from counts or beats, but rather from some internal relationship he had with the band.  And yes, the hat needs work!  Notice how Kelly has his down over his eyes at a steep angle, almost hiding his face. Except for that smile!   I'm hoping more research and rehearsal will help Fairchild in one way, but in another, I hope he just forgets all he knows about dance and just  lets it happen.



#124 sandik

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 12:36 PM

Thanks for making the compare/contrast easy with these clips.

My initial response is that the thing both dancers share is a deep 'likeability' -- they're essentially personable and engaging. Fairchild has a more finished style (no surprise here) with cleaner attention paid to shape, especially in his limbs. Kelly has a slightly stronger and more free sense of attack, with less concern about shape, but they're both very sunny performers here -- I think that's the element that really stands out.

#125 vipa

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 02:38 PM

Thanks for making the compare/contrast easy with these clips.My initial response is that the thing both dancers share is a deep 'likeability' -- they're essentially personable and engaging. Fairchild has a more finished style (no surprise here) with cleaner attention paid to shape, especially in his limbs. Kelly has a slightly stronger and more free sense of attack, with less concern about shape, but they're both very sunny performers here -- I think that's the
element that really stands out.


I agree Sandik, the likeabilty factor is strong in both. Fairchild will have to make the role his own if it is going to work. Kelly was dancing in a different era. The key imo for Fairchild will be bringing a feeling of spontainaity to it.

#126 dirac

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 07:12 AM

His approach to the music didn't seem to be from counts or beats, but rather from some internal relationship he had with the band.

 

 

That's nicely put, mimsyb.

 

. No, it’s not what I would strongly and literally associate with Gene Kelly, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be very successful

 

 

True, Buddy, and in that respect a literal side-by-side comparison isn't necessarily helpful. But I don't think anyone expects Fairchild to replicate Kelly's style literally. I hope that Fairchild will make his own kind of impact. He has a boyish openness that's already quite different from Kelly. It is, to me, interesting to observe how Fairchild's classical training lends new accents and emphases to a different kind of choreography.



#127 sandik

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 09:04 AM

A question -- I've always looked at American in Paris as a specifically post-war film -- beyond the details of the plot, the characters were all tempered by that global experience.  Any thoughts about how Fairchild will look in that context?



#128 dirac

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 10:14 PM

Fairchild is young but he's not too young to be a veteran. I don't see it as a problem (?)



#129 sandik

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 10:48 PM

I'm not thinking of it specifically as an age thing (though he does look younger to me than Kelly did in the film) but more of a physical thing -- Fairchild seems a bit more slight to me than Kelly.



#130 ABT Fan

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 08:39 AM

I'm not thinking of it specifically as an age thing (though he does look younger to me than Kelly did in the film) but more of a physical thing -- Fairchild seems a bit more slight to me than Kelly.

 

Fairchild is less "beefy" and compact than Kelly was.  I think Kelly will be hard to compare to, in terms of dancing style, but I think Fairchild could do a commendable job.  I can't wait to see it.



#131 meunier fan

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 09:05 AM

I've already got four tickets to see it in two stints in Paris.  I love to see how these things grow into themselves ... and grateful not to have to fly to New York to see the wonderful Mr. Fairchild.  



#132 Buddy

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 03:23 AM

http://www.vanityfai...=social_retweet

(thanks to BalletcoForum)

 

I’ve got my ticket for opening night. I’m excited.

 

(​I might not have internet access, but I'll try to post something within a few days.)



#133 Buddy

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Posted 17 November 2014 - 01:54 AM

More preview articles are appearing. This is from one of them.

 

“With the movie as a "launching point", the original Gershwin score, a big dose of Gene Kelly inspiration and brand new choreography and scenography, "An American in Paris" hopes to get a whole new generation of audiences tapping along. 

 

"Gene Kelly embodied that kind of style, that jazz style and the tap... and the sort of combination of those with ballet and with my more contemporary vision of ballet kind of blends lots of ingredients in making a new cake." [Christopher Wheeldon]

 

“Wheeldon said he wanted to evoke a sense of "the city after the war, after the occupation, rebuilding. I wanted it to feel like Paris... we spent a lot of time in making the neighbourhood.””

 

http://www.thelocal....emiere-in-paris

(thanks to BalletcoForum)

 

Added:

 

This is an article by Gene Kelly's wife and biographer giving some very interesting insight into the making of the movie and expressing her desire that Gene Kelly be given proper recognition.

 

“As Leslie Caron confirmed when asked to comment about Minnelli's role shooting the picture, "Oh, no, it was Gene Kelly behind the camera!””

 

http://www.huffingto..._b_6155522.html

(thanks again to BalletcoForum)



#134 dirac

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Posted 17 November 2014 - 10:20 AM

Thank you for those links, Buddy. I am glad to see Mrs. Kelly fighting her husband's corner, although I note that she isn't his biographer just yet - she's been promising that book for years, and it is long overdue. I don't doubt that Kelly was a dominating presence behind the camera for An American in Paris, but the movie also reflects Minnelli's visual style. Nice to see Kelly giving credit to Alan Jay Lerner's screenplay.




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