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Tudor's Gala Performance (Who to cast as leads today?)


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#1 Natalia

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 05:05 AM

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 smile.png

 

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. smile.png



#2 FauxPas

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 07:17 AM

That ABT casting doesn't quite hit it on the head for me, I would suggest:

 

Russian: Vishneva is too soulful and delicate.  Gillian could do it but Boylston is a good match too.  Semionova maybe.  The best would have been Irina Dvorovenko - fabulous comedienne.  Over a decade ago she was to do it at City Center and was photographed in the costume for the brochure - but never performed it due to injury.

Italian:  Actually Veronika Part could nail this and if Vishneva were to do this ballet then Italian is her part.

French: Xiomara Reyes



#3 Natalia

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 07:43 AM

I love it, FauxPas.  Oh, I think that Part is too 'beautiful and delicate' for Italian, although she certainly has the height! Xiomara for sure as the French - great catch! Kajiya could also succeed as French. To me, Vishneva is more 'pushy and vulgar-ish' (in all the right ways for this smile.png ) so would be better for the first (Russian)...and she is the most muscular ("ripped") of all ABT females, IMO...delicate? Semionova has too sweet/young a face for Italian but, again, has the height.  I see your points, though.

 

I completely agree -- Irina would have been picture-perfect for Russian - or Italian. What a shame that we didn't get to see her in it.

 

C'mon ABT - time to schedule Gala Performance for the fall season or a mixed bill at the Met. Guaranteed hit, especially with today's roster of possible interpreters. We've seen Lilac, Elegies, Pillar and Leaves often enough in the past 10 years...time for Gala. But please do not cast Hee Seo in this...hint-hint!



#4 FauxPas

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 08:59 AM

Natalia, you and I seem to see Part and Vishneva very differently.  Vishneva is very thin and you see every muscle.  But she has long delicate muscles and a very willowy movement style.  I don't see her as an allegro powerhouse - more an adagio dancer in the Makarova line.  Also I find Vishneva "over the top" with her very emotive performing style but not pushy or vulgar in any way.

 

Part is certainly beautiful and is capable of delicacy of movement but physically Vishneva is more the delicate type.  Part is rather statuesque (perfect quality for Italian Ballerina) and solid and weighted.  I don't think Part is the "ethereal" type ballerina - hence her not dancing Giselle with a major ballet company just her Myrtha.  BTW: Tudor said in an interview that the Italian Ballerina was inspired not by a particular ballerina but by classical Italian architecture - Palladian columns and Romanesque arches etc.

 

Interesting interview in the Times from 1998 about Gala Performance (BTW: I saw this cast - the then promising Melamed was very good replacing Dvorovenko):

 

http://www.nytimes.c...life-roles.html

 

Hee Seo actually would not really work well in any of these roles but would be suitable (and has been I think) in stuff like "The Leaves are Fading" - soft lyricism is her forte.



#5 sandik

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 02:48 PM

I've only ever seen this on film, so my opinions may be skewed by that, but thinking of my home company (Pacific Northwest Ballet) I'd be curious to see Carrie Imler as the Russian, Laura Tisserand as the Italian (it seems like a cousin to the diva role she performs in Wheeldon's "Soiree Musicale"), and Leta Biasucci or Angelica Generosa as the French dancer.



#6 Natalia

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 06:32 PM

Faux Pas, that's the beauty of being a ballet lover - we can see dancers differently and nobody is truly right or wrong! I love Vishneva's Kitri, for ex. I see her more as virtuosa and gutsy gal, although her A2 Giselle is sublime. I just remember when she was 'softer' and less muscular, which is perpetuated by her 'Beauty in Motion'-type modern projects.

 

Back to Gala Perf...

 

Thanks for the link to the '98 review!

 

Atm711 posted thoughts on possible castings in the other thread, so I copy them here:

Posted Today, 01:49 PM

With visions of the original Ballet Theatre cast still in my head, of the current Company I would like to see Gillian Murphy as the Russian and Veronika Part as the Italian (my perfect choice .would be Lopatkina).  The interpretation of the French Ballerina is dated--it was always a weak part of the ballet (even when Janet Reed did it).

Yes - Lopatkina as the icy Italian ballerina. She does comedy very well, too, e.g., the comic 'Grand Pas de Deux' that she dances at galas with Igor Kolb (the one with the red purse).




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