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New York City Ballet in Montreal, vols. 1 & 2Orpheus, Serenade, Concero Barocco, Agon, Apollo


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#46 kfw

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 04:06 PM

Rather off%20topic.gif here, but speaking of onstage mishaps, I hope everyone saw the recent New Yorker piece, Pony Up, about the donkey Balanchine cast in Union Jack, and the effort - and apparently it has been an effort! - to replace him.



#47 pherank

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 04:23 PM

Rather off%20topic.gif here, but speaking of onstage mishaps, I hope everyone saw the recent New Yorker piece, Pony Up, about the donkey Balanchine cast in Union Jack, and the effort - and apparently it has been an effort! - to replace him.

 

Yes, that was a great article. The trouble people go to, to preserve 'tradition' - right down to the donkey poops.  ;)



#48 DanielBenton

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 04:29 PM

I was there the night of the donkey mishap in Union Jack.  As I recall, the curtain closed, then the stage director said quite politely over the public address system:  "Ladies and gentlemen, please give us a minute while we clean up our act".



#49 kbarber

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 04:53 PM

Oh, I want to  add that the short interviews with Balanchine in French, are enjoyable as well. I think that's the first time I've seen/heard footage of him speaking French.

If the CBC interviewer is the same one that appeared in the clips in the Tanaquil Le Clercq film, he is... René Lévesque, more famous as being the leader of the Quebec separatist movement and premier of Quebec. (he was a journalist before he went into politics). Just a little bit of Canadian trivia for you!

#50 kbarber

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 04:56 PM

Rather off%20topic.gif here, but speaking of onstage mishaps, I hope everyone saw the recent New Yorker piece, Pony Up, about the donkey Balanchine cast in Union Jack, and the effort - and apparently it has been an effort! - to replace him.

 
Yes, that was a great article. The trouble people go to, to preserve 'tradition' - right down to the donkey poops.  ;)


Maybe NYCB needs an international guest star in the person (?)of Peregrine, the Shetland pony who has been starring in the Royal Ballet's and Birmingham Royal Ballet's Fille mal Gardees for the last 23 years or so, I believe.

#51 pherank

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 06:01 PM

 

Oh, I want to  add that the short interviews with Balanchine in French, are enjoyable as well. I think that's the first time I've seen/heard footage of him speaking French.

If the CBC interviewer is the same one that appeared in the clips in the Tanaquil Le Clercq film, he is... René Lévesque, more famous as being the leader of the Quebec separatist movement and premier of Quebec. (he was a journalist before he went into politics). Just a little bit of Canadian trivia for you!

 

 

Interesting, I'm not certain if the interviewer is credited, and he mostly stands with his back to the camera facing Balanchine (which is a little odd). Balanchine's French is pretty good; however, he forgets certain terms and then jumps into American English to express himself more succinctly. Ah, to be multi-lingual. ;)



#52 kfw

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 06:56 PM

I was there the night of the donkey mishap in Union Jack.  As I recall, the curtain closed, then the stage director said quite politely over the public address system:  "Ladies and gentlemen, please give us a minute while we clean up our act".

 

That must have been pretty darn funny, although perhaps some people in the upper rings couldn’t see what precipitated the interruption. The New Yorker’s article itself, with lines like 

 
My son was petrified. I have pictures. He’s now forty-seven, and Giorgio is dead.

 

had me cracking up laughing.
 
But back to the Volume 1 DVD. I saw Orpheus danced in 1992 and 2012, and I’ve seen the Live at Lincoln Center broadcast with Martins and Aroldingen and read about how the ballet is lost or all but lost on the larger stage, especially without the original cast and Balanchine’s coaching. It’s a ballet I’ve very much wanted to like but have never been entirely taken by until now. Goldner writes that the dance of the Furies is “a silly dance.” Not to me anymore, not on this recording. I’m especially pleased, after having seen all the George Platte Lynes photos, to finally see Magallenes and Moncion in moving pictures. They do not disappoint! 
 
Ironically, I think the black and white filming helps as well. To my mind, the orange of Orpheus’ leotard has always distracted from the gravity of the story. 


#53 pherank

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 10:44 PM

But back to the Volume 1 DVD. I saw Orpheus danced in 1992 and 2012, and I’ve seen the Live at Lincoln Center broadcast with Martins and Aroldingen and read about how the ballet is lost or all but lost on the larger stage, especially without the original cast and Balanchine’s coaching. It’s a ballet I’ve very much wanted to like but have never been entirely taken by until now. Goldner writes that the dance of the Furies is “a silly dance.” Not to me anymore, not on this recording. I’m especially pleased, after having seen all the George Platte Lynes photos, to finally see Magallenes and Moncion in moving pictures. They do not disappoint! 
 
Ironically, I think the black and white filming helps as well. To my mind, the orange of Orpheus’ leotard has always distracted from the gravity of the story. 

 

 

I would have been ecstatic if Le Clercq had been dancing as Leader of the Bacchantes, but I'm finding this version of Orpheus to be engrossing just the same - I think it will grow on me with time. I've watched Serenade, Concerto Barocco and Agon multiple times. I think I agree with what you are saying regarding the black and white presentation - it does force us to focus on other things, since there is no color scheme to be lost in, or bothered by. I find the blurry picture to actually work in Serenade's favor: whenever the dancers turn on pointe their tulle skirts whip about in a grainy, cloud-like blur that I find aesthetically pleasing. Reminds me of the photos of Lillian Bassman.



#54 DanielBenton

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 04:36 AM

I think Orpheus is certainly different from the typical Stravinsky/Balanchine collaboration:  the music is static and often seemingly without momentum, and hence so is the movement - more like a musical drama with movement rather than the type of ballet we are used to seeing.  I think the music is one of Stravinsky's greatest scores and quite beautiful. 



#55 kfw

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 06:14 AM

Orpheus is one of my favorite ballet scores. And I too love the swirling skirts in this recording of Serenade, but there, for me at least, the black and white recording drains some of the ballet’s atmosphere, as does that unfortunately busy backdrop. Does anyone know if the backdrop was a one-time-only, made-for-TV choice? I don’t see it in any photos, although in some you can’t tell. I don't find any written references to it.



#56 rg

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 07:14 AM

with regard to decor for SERENADE, to the best of my knowledge it was performed without decor since 1936, when "Scenery by Gaston Longchamp" was done away with.

a MoMA exhibition a few years back of stage designs included Longchamp's gouache showing the 1935 background, probably commissioned by Kirstein; it was strikingly deco and almost futuristic in its sleek and somewhat spare configuration and uncanny space-defining elements.

the only sense of a setting with NYCB came in the form of 'piece d'occasion' 'unit' set of plexi-tubing (by Philip Johnson) in place throughout the '81 Tchaikovsky Festival, where the movable elements were specially arranged at a strong art-deco-like diagonal for SERENADE.

i haven't yet seen the CBC setting.

it would seem that in most cases Balanchine agreed, or at least didn't object, to some special decor behind his ballets when they were filmed for tv. Peter Harvey, who designed the original JEWELS, was mostly responsible for the sometimes eccentric sets behind the ballet's in the Dance in America/Choreography by Balanchine series. 

 



#57 kfw

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 08:03 AM

Thanks, rg! Looking up “Scenery by Gaston Longchamp,” I see the Oxford Dictionary of Dance says the ballet was indeed performed without scenery after 1936. In the background for this performance there appear to be curtains and swags as well as a painted backdrop of clouds. This scenery is not credited.

 

I've seen a picture of that 1981 Phillip Johnson set somewhere. I didn't know it was rearranged (if I understand you correctly) for Serenade. 



#58 rg

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 08:27 AM

yes, if my none-too-precise memory serves, the movable unit Johnson set, vertically hung plexi-tubing, was arranged and re-arranged for various ballets during the festival. 
Kirstein's 'vision' for the scheme was an "ice palace" tho' i don't recall anyone's really seeing the end result(s) as such once in place. i rem. vividly that when the tubing was unpacked and about to be hung in the background it reeked of whatever those plastic fumes are called and more or less left some stage workers running for the exits until the stuff could be aired out and acclimated to the auditorium.

thus for SERENADE i esp. recall an arrangement that set the tubing at a strong slicing diagonal across the back of the stage against, again if mem. serves, a blue cyclorama - lit by Bates.

btw, can you tell me here, KFW, if the visual description you give above comes from some writing about the ballet or from a photo/illustration?

w/thanx.



#59 kfw

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 08:32 AM

I must not have been clear, rg. I was describing the Montreal television performance. 



#60 sandik

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 10:56 AM

Dance Chronicle ran a series of articles by Peter Harvey about working with Balanchine, and they include his descriptions of the Dance in America projects. 

 

(volume 20, numbers 2 and 3 1997, and volume 21, number 1, 1998)

 

One of the elements he discusses is the difficulty that the television camera has in showing movement that travels through space.  If the camera shows the entire performing space in a fixed shot, it's usually too far away to see the individual dancers.  If the camera gets close enough to see more details, then they either follow the dancers around (making it hard to tell where they are in space and where they've been going) or they focus on a smaller area, looking at the dancers as they pass through, but missing everything that happened before and after they entered the picture.  The compromise is to create some kind of design in the background so that, if the camera follows a dancer around, the passing scenery gives the eyes enough information to be able to locate the performer in the space.




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