Quiggin

Wheeldon's Cinderella for SFB and HNB

7 posts in this topic

Joan Acocella has some thoughts on Cinderella – and Wheeldon – at the New Yorker. She ends with

And that is symptomatic of Wheeldon’s oeuvre. How talented he is, and how withholding! Or, let’s not be sentimental. Maybe he’s not withholding anything—maybe it’s just not there. In any case, you never know where his heart is.

Before she had commented on all his [endless] high flying leaps – "But I think Wheeldon is actually much more impressive in the smaller, classroom steps—cabrioles, sissones—that he knows so well."

I kept thinking of Carousel and how effective that was, with its much simpler means.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/10/wheeldons-anti-sentimental-cinderella.html

Share this post


Link to post
Before she had commented on all his [endless] high flying leaps – "But I think Wheeldon is actually much more impressive in the smaller, classroom steps—cabrioles, sissones—that he knows so well."

I noticed that as well, and it reminded me of Ratmansky (had just watched clips from his Foreign Lands) -- I've often thought that the real challenge in working with the classical vocabulary is knitting together the terre a terre steps.

Share this post


Link to post

From Gia Kourlas' http://www.timeout.com/newyork/dance/sarah.van.patten-talks-about-san-francisco-ballet?pageNumber=1 with Sarah van Patten in "Time Out New York" linked by pherank in the Sarah Van Patten thread in the "Dancers" forum:

Time Out New York: How did he direct your Cinderella?
Sarah Van Patten:
Because it’s a joint production with Dutch National, he choreographed parts on us and parts on them, so both of the companies could really feel like it was their own. I did a lot of the creating of Edwina, but I was also in the studio a lot for Cinderella. I got to be there for the evolution of both parts. What was great—especially for me—was to really have the severe character differences and to really hear the background of his thought process on the different characters. For every step—every kind of movement or gesture—he’ll talk it out: “This is what’s going through your head.” He’d have a whole conversation going during a variation or during a scene, and that’s what made the process really enjoyable, especially for a part like Edwina, where you’re being comedic and loud with all of these big movements. And the same for Cinderella. He really talked through a lot of the choreography; that makes the story feel real. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Thanks everyone for these very interesting points of view. Sarah van Patten's comments give me some new and sympathetic insight.


I've seen very few of Christopher Wheeldon's works but what's always impressed me very much, and it's a common sentiment, is that it's the almost 'ethereal' pas de deux (duets) that he creates so well. Polyphonia perhaps contains his most famous. I've seen his Liturgy twice, performed by the Miami City Ballet with the wonderful Haiyan Wu, and I was enchanted.



Here is a lovely duet, After the Rain with Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall.




And perhaps illustrating what Quiggin and sandik have written, is a brief solo from Polyphonia that I saw (first two minutes of video).




Share this post


Link to post

I think people might enjoy this long Polyphonia rehearsal clip with Wheeldon, ballet master Christopher Saunders, and Royal Ballet dancers:



I guess one of the obvious points to make about this segment would be that it is really difficult to get a large group of pairs to actually move in unison through a long course of steps. So you get a good sense of what a choreographer is up against in rehearsals.

Share this post


Link to post
Here is a lovely duet, After the Rain with Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall.

And here's another take on After the Rain, with Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith (camera views are professionally shot/edited):

Share this post


Link to post

There is also a wonderful rehearsal – in the Royal Ballet series that Pherank posted from – of Christopher Wheeldon working with dancers on Aeternum. The choreography with James Hay is fantastically clean and so architecturally pure (like the modeling in a Juan Gris painting), while the choreography in the duet between Claire Calvert and Thiago Soares is nicely balanced between two players – for example when the man folds the woman's leg from behind, and then the woman does the same for the man.

Regarding Cinderella as a whole – its outer shape – Robert Johnson in the Star-Ledger thinks that Wheeldon, by not following Prokofiev's scenario and musical cues, fiddled too much with the dramatic arc and left the ballet a little tame. Gone is pressure of the clock bearing down on Cinderella – it seems to be a minor annoyance – and gone are the time dwarfs who warn Cinderella "her charms will not last." Johnson notes that "Prokofiev, who wrote Cinderella in trying circumstances, understood this admonition too well." And Benjamin (whose role seems almost to eclipse that of the Prince) is added at the expense of other characters – of which that of the dancing master is "the greatest loss."

Concluding the ballet with a marriage celebration, Wheeldon tries to jump-start Prokofiev’s understated ending. A thrilling pas de deux would have said much more, while after a whole evening of theatrical fireworks even a royal wedding seems tame.

Maybe with something of the quiet intimacy of the dances posted in the videos above.

http://www.nj.com/entertainment/arts/index.ssf/2013/10/time_warp_san_francisco_ballets_cinderella_fails_to_heed_the_clock.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgthYy5AJls

Share this post


Link to post