Symphony in 3 Movements at SFB
Posted 30 August 2001 - 10:41 AM
How do other companies do it? Has NYCB's version always been edgy?
(I'm not criticising SFB, as it worked quite well done this way, I was just rather taken aback!)
Posted 30 August 2001 - 10:55 AM
I thought there was a bobby-soxer element to the ballet, vague references to the period of the score. I loved it when SFB danced it in D.C. last year and though I didn't think it cheerful, I did think they looked -- deliberately -- like kids and, now that you mention it, had an odd sense that it made the ballet more a period piece. It didn't bother me. (I loved the structure of the ballet. I hadn't seen structure clearly back in the 1970s, so in a way it was a new piece for me.)
Sorry -- that's a lot of rambles and impressions. I'm sure someone else can do better
Posted 30 August 2001 - 08:10 PM
Posted 31 August 2001 - 04:06 PM
I hope this is somewhat illuminating. In general, Balanchine did not care for too much emoting - one was supposed to dance how one felt, and match the mood of the piece but he did not encourage "selling it" as sometimes happens too often these days.
Thanks Doug - for calling this to my attention.
Posted 01 September 2001 - 11:46 AM
all the dancers' parts (and the dancers themselves seemed aptly 'driven' by their music, which at times thunders rather forcefully and at others gets more casual sounding. i saw s.f.b. do fine perfs. of the ballet at kenn.cent. and don't rem. an overabundance of bright, smiling faces, so i wonder if the uk perfs. took on a diff. tone for some reason. if ever there was a monument to balanchine's 'just dance the steps' advice it might be 'sym in 3' tho' it still applies to the rest of his canon. it's prob. always good to recall how often when g.b. made a ballet he was stretching/extending what his co. could do at the time and that the dancers, early on, were there, 'reaching' to the new limits, then when what the choreographer accomplished got folded back into the co's technique/expertise a kind of glibness can possibly take over. 'agon' is prob. the best example of a ballet stretching/extending its original cast, thus leaving later, more 'attuned' casts in the position of trying to find the original 'tension' without 'emoting' it. or something.
bottom line: if s.f.b. seemed to cheerily, cheerleading the first mov. of this ballet, something's gotten lost 'in the translation.'
Posted 02 September 2001 - 03:19 PM
The thing that was different, though, was that I was sitting at the far right hand side of the theatre (cheap seats) and I won't do that again for this ballet. When the curtain goes up on the famous diagonal, you see a line of dancers at right angles to your line of vision, looking straight at you - your brain knows it's a diagonal really, but you get nothing like the same impact. (Maybe that's another thread for sometime - which ballets look best from which side?)
Posted 02 September 2001 - 03:25 PM
Interesting point. I too wondered about the smiling and was very surprised seeing Symphony in 3 as a happy ballet, but that is what it was. They all seemed to be bouncing about so that it looked like a divert almost - and it did bother me a bit, cause obviously that is off.
Posted 02 September 2001 - 03:37 PM
Posted 02 September 2001 - 04:19 PM
You are truly an inspiration and we are fortunate to have you around on this board !
Posted 02 September 2001 - 05:35 PM
I spoke to somebody, who was in it with SFB and this person insisted that they were not given instructions of any kind when the piece was set (by Richard Tanner): certainly not to smile or anything as specific as that.
Posted 02 September 2001 - 06:58 PM
I really don't remember them overdoing it in D.C. (Not questioning Jane or Alexander's view at all; both sound very concrete. But it's a difference.)
[ 09-03-2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]
Posted 08 September 2001 - 08:54 AM
The various reviewers in the British press seem to have all sorts of reactions to the music, some of them a bit odd, judging by the adjectives they use. The 1st movement began in 1942 as a piece for solo piano and orchestra, inspired by a film on China’s ‘scorched earth’ tactics. The 2nd movement uses music intended to accompany the ‘Apparition of the Virgin’ scene in Werfel’s film ‘The Song of Bernadette’ – Stravinsky was to have provided the film score, but the project did not come to fruition as far as he was concerned. The 3rd movement is said to have been inspired by wartime newsreels. Stravinsky conducted the first performance in New York in January 1946 (he had become an American citizen a month previously). He wrote at the time that the music had ‘no programme’ but that there might be found in it impressions affected by ‘this arduous time of sharp and shifting events, of despair and hope, of continual torments and, at last, cessation and relief’.
Balanchine of course took the music as he found it, using it without any narrative, and revelling in its complexity and variety, its propulsive drive and its intensity. According to some notes I have found, he said that he wanted his choreography ‘to catch the music and not lean on it, using it instead for support and time-frame...’. Stravinsky, for his part, had declared that ‘in classical dancing I see the triumph of studied conception over vagueness, of the rule over the haphazard… I see in it the perfect expression of the Apollonian principle’. I guess that you can read all sorts of things into this piece, especially given 'that beginning' ("Amazonian Rockettes with attitude" the programme told us!). But nothing should interfere with appreciation of its design should it? - the Apollonian principle.
Posted 24 March 2002 - 06:08 PM
The smililng SFB dancers... Their default face is to smile; the sweet thing about it is that -- as with the Cunningham dancers -- they smile when they see each other. Maybe in Symphony in 3 they're smiling because they're nearly colliding with each other and acknowledging each other as they race by.
In the first movement, what they're really doing is counting -- the leads in pink have one set of counts (in 5s, I think), the girls in black are I think in 7s, and the gilrs in blue are counting some different meter altogether. Julia Adam told me this (she danced one of hte leads).
They also present a heftier profile than City ballet dancers would-- this rather healthy look could make them look like cheerleaders by comparison to the more haggard creatures one is used to.
(I tried to introduce a smiley here, but it didnt happen......)
I agree, when I first saw the ballet (danced by City Ballet on tour to Berkeley in 1988), it looked like warfare to me - -something about hte first-movement principals made me think of a lion jumping onto a horse's back.... I was very excited and confused by it. SFB made it exhilarating, especially when Lucia lacarra did that manege of pique turns amidst all that hubbub, it was like bumper cars, and it didn't FAZE her....
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