As I wrote Here - http://balletalert.i...-april-45-2014/ - the Sarasota Ballet just revived Tudor's GALA PERFORMANCE this past weekend. The Sarasota dancers did a great job with the work, as staged by Sally B. Bliss (head of the Tudor Foundation) and James Jordan. It was the first staging of the ballet in the USA in 10 years, according to Ms Bliss, as quoted in a feature rticle in the local Herald newspaper a week ago. This is incredible, as this ballet was once a 'standard' in the rep of ABT and elsewhere. I first saw it 'live' ca-1988, with ABT at the Kennedy Center; I'll never forget the perfect 'arrogant' depiction of the Italian Ballerina by Susan Jaffe back then.
I'm curious as to what would entail the 'perfect casting' today of the three leading ballerinas, knowing all of the active ballerinas in the world. The three leading roles, in order of their segmentsare:
THE RUSSIAN BALLERINA in bright red (a technical wizard who pushes her technique like crazy, to the point of vulgarity; she milks the applause for all it's worth; originated in 1938 by Peggy van Praagh but perhaps best known for Nora Kaye's portrayal in the 1941 ABT premiere)
THE ITALIAN BALLERINA in dark blue/black with very tall ostrich plumes on head (She's great and she knows it; arrogance personified in her mere walking via high-kicking goosesteps; no smile - EVER! Premiered by Maude Lloyd in 1938-London...but perhaps the greatest one being Alicia Alonso at the ABT premiere in 1941)
THE FRENCH BALLERINA in puffy, flouncy pink with bouncy ringlets in her hair (The cutesy-pie, blowing kisses and leaping everywhere. She's bubbly champagne personified. Gerd Larsen atthe 1938 world premiere in London; Karen Conrad at ABT-1941.)
My ideal all-Russian cast today:
Russian Ballerina - Somova would be perfect...but so would be Osipova!
Italian - Zakharova (she does 'ice queen' very well)...or maybe Olga Smirnova, although she's still too new
French - Obraztsova, of course
Ideal current-ABT cast:
Russian - Vishneva, if around...or Boylston, as a substitute
Italian - Gillian Murphy...absolutely Murphy for that 'ice queen' glare'
French - Sarah Lane
Who would YOU like to see as the three Gala Performance ballerinas today?
I'm also wondering if any of you have recollections of great interpreters of these roles.
Finally - I've read in several places that Antony Tudor had specific ballerinas in mind when he created these caricatures in the late-30s. Ms Bliss was quoted (in same Sarasota Herald article) that Tudor surely had certain famous ballerinas of that era in mind..."He was a very BAD BOY!" Who? I am guessing either the three 'baby ballerinas' (Baronova, Toumanova, Riabouchinskaya...not nec'ly in that order) and/or Alicia Markova, perhaps as 'the Italian'? Just my guesses.