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Nijinska's Les Noces

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#16 rg


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Posted 04 March 2002 - 10:03 AM

'picasso et la danse' translated so that the commentary was in english and entitled 'picasso and dance,' has been shown here and there, certainly in canada. the cassette was marketed, if mem. serves, in PAL format, (maybe jane s. could confirm/deny this) and was even promised in NTSC here in the USA but it never came out so far as i can tell. perhaps it will be released on DVD sometime, or maybe in PAL dvd it already it.

#17 Estelle


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Posted 04 March 2002 - 10:09 AM

Oops, I should have written that it hasn't been available commercially *in France*.

I'm curious: what did the PAL tape include? The French program also included Petit's "Le rendez-vous", but that one was never shown on TV, as far as I know.

Still about Nijinska: the POB danced "Les Biches" one season in the early 1990s, but hasn't been danced it since then.

#18 rg


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Posted 04 March 2002 - 10:56 AM

picasso/danse has consistently included, so far as i know, both 'train bleu' and 'tricorne' (i've never known 'rendez-vous' to be included on a commercial tape, PAL or otherwise). the work was, however, included in a triple bill that the POB toured to washington, d.c. as follows:
suite en blanc
but none of these has been made available on any commercial video i'm aware of.

#19 Paul Parish

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Posted 07 March 2002 - 12:24 AM

Hello, DGH -- I wonder who you are. I saw you dance in the Oakland Ballet's incredible performances of Les Noces in 1981 in Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. The building seemed to be exploding; the effect of the ballet was so tremendous. (The next day I bought Nijinska's Early Memoirs, which had just come out -- a very important book.)

The four pianos, percussion, and choir made a noise like I'd never heard before -- the score is just as powerful as the Rite of Spring -- and the impact of the sforzandi, the sudden incredibly violent attacks of sound, were like an earthquake.

The choreography lived up to it -- and the dancers were unbelievably committed, focussed, thrilling, possessed. It was probably the most exciting experience I've ever had at the ballet --literally exciting. They use toe shoes like tap shoes or Irish clogs and are HITTING the floor with them; the steps are bourrees, I guess, but htey're not light, they're heavy. EXTREME taqueterie.

ALso, the rest of the program was not so great, so the power of the ballet, and of their dancing, came as a surprise -- WHAT a surprise!!! I'd had NO IDEA you could do that with ballet (which, I think, is what the poster was referring to when she said ballet is not all about tutus....)

In Oakland Ballet: the First 25 Years, by the late Bill Huck, he lists the Oakland Ballet premiere as Sept 25, 1981; some of the 36 dancers: Johanna Breyer (bride), Mylene Kalhorn, Philip Sharper)(groom), Lance James [who, incidentally, was a great Billy the Kid, in a production that Loring himself preferred to all others], also Erin Leedom, Joy Gim, Mario Alonzo, and Michael Lowe. [I had just started taking adult beginner classes, and my teacher, Ginger Megley, took the tiny part of the bride's mother -- but had a piercing solo, kneeling down, in which she wails over what her daughter has in for her....]

Choreologist, Juliet Kando from the Royal Ballet; production overseen by Irina Nijinska.

It was big news all over the country. Huch quotes Walter Terry, who saw it performed at the Spoleto Festival:
"To see the Oakland Ballet dance Bronislava Nijinska's Les Noces is an enthralling, bewitching, riveting experience....

"I recall [Terry continues] the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo restaging many years ago without much pleasure, and the more recent revival by Britain's Royal Ballet with great disappointment. Jerome Robbins's wholly new version [for ABT] made many of us think that Nijinska's original was obsolete. But no more. The Oakland Ballet has resurrected a masterwork of the Diaghilev era....

"It is not simply that the Oakland Ballet has reproduced an innovative and once controversial work with care and historical accuracy. [Terry continues] To the contrary, the company dances it as if it were new, as if the dancers were relishing its primitive energies for the first time.... The company is neither as large nor as technically polished as the Royal Ballet but its crudities are assets in this production."

{Huck goes on to say the following:
"Irina Nijinska, the choreographer's daughter, who had come to Oakland to oversee the new production, said the same thing but more succinctly: 'I knew they would dance it well. A company that strives only for classical perfection lacks the heavy character movement needed for Diaghilev ballets.'"

And I remember Joan Acocella saying something like that to a class she showed Oakland's Les Noces to in Berkeley.

The Oakland Ballet also commissioned the reconstruction of Nijinska's Le Train Bleu and of Bolero (originally made for Ida Rubenstein, refashioned a bit later when a more -- ahem--accomplished dancer took the part). Le Train Bleu was very light, but they made it charming (unlike Les Biches, which required a more elegant line and better entrechat-quatres than they could muster, as well as 3 hunky guys who could do perfect entrechat-sixes.... though Julie Lowe was lovely as one of the Lesbians, and Erin Leedom was brilliant as the page boy: she did unassisted pirouettes ending in sous-sus like a knife quivering in the floor, which completely erased my memory of Laura Connor, whom I'd seen do it at Covent Garden; Monica Mason, on the other hand, as the hostess, i can still see her playing with those pearls as her feet toyed with the floor.

I reviewed both Bolero and Train Bleu for Bay Area papers and will post those reviews if anyone wants to see them.

About televising Les Noces: I've noticed that tap comes through on film much better than ballet -- the Nicholas Brothers, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers lose only a fraction of the excitement they must have generated in person, whereas Baryshnikov, Tallchief are NOTHING LIKE as exciting as I know from my own experience (well, at least with Baryshnikov) they were on stage. Just speculating, but I THINK this is because with tap you can HEAR the weight -- Les Noces ought to videotape well, since it is a percussive dance with the weight sent down rather than pulled up.

[ March 07, 2002, 12:44 AM: Message edited by: Paul Parish ]

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