miliosr

1978 . . . and Today

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Posted (edited)

The Bejart Company also did a revival of "Parade," in the 1960s. Unfortunately only the original manager's costume survived and was last seen in a Diaghilev exhibition Richard Buckle put together in 1955. The costumes for the Joffrey revival were said to be reasonable facsimilies but not to have the impact of Picasso's originals. I wonder if the costumes and sets Robert Rauschenberg did in the 1970s for Cunningham and other companies had some of the dazzling effect of those in "Parade" in 1917 (when e e cummings and Marcel Proust were in the audience)? 

 

Regarding the continuity of SF Ballet's programs, they are still perhaps a mix of NYCB and ABT heritage, and in a triple bill you might say the Tomassons take the place of the Christensens, the Possokhovs stand in for the Smuins and there's kind of a Tudor freelance third place. The relation to the audience to the company remains the same, sometimes conservative, sometimes up for something brilliantly new or well revived – like Symphony in Three Movements or the Shostakovich Triology (which thanks to Allan Ulrich's enthusiastic reviews was given a second year's showing).

 

 

Edited by Quiggin

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1 hour ago, Quiggin said:

 

The relation to the audience to the company remains the same, sometimes conservative, sometimes up for something brilliantly new or well revived – like Symphony in Three Movements or the Shostakovich Triology (which thanks to Allan Ulrich's enthusiastic reviews was given a second year's showing).

 

 

I seriously hope Ulrich's review was not the only reason it was brought back. Does audience response count for nothing? I think it does given that Myles Thatcher's Ghost in the Machine was given the last open slot in the 2018 season - not Yuri's latest ballet or Arthur Pita's. (OK, the dancers likely had a lot of say in choosing Thatcher, but audience reviews were definitely favorable).

 

It's interesting that Yuri has no ballets slated for next season. I know that I mentioned before that it would be 'gentlemanly' for him to step aside for the New Works Festival and let others have a chance. I wonder if he's scheduling more work for the Bolshoi, or where?

 

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Posted (edited)

7 hours ago, pherank said:

 

I seriously hope Ulrich's review was not the only reason it was brought back...

 

 

My impression was that Ulrich brought the question up more than once and kept it before the public. I didn't remember him before that advocating so strongly for a work of art – outside of his opera and classical reviews for the Financial Times. To me it seemed a great example of what good arts journalism can do. Also it seemed that was so unusual a work for SF Ballet that they didn't quite know what to do with it - how to promote it, etc.

 

Ulrich:

 

Quote

Regrettably, only this last section of "Shostakovich Trilogy" will be revived in 2015, unless Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson changes his mind. So see it complete, now.

 

Edited by Quiggin

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2 hours ago, Quiggin said:

 

My impression was that Ulrich brought the question up more than once and kept it before the public. I didn't remember him before that advocating so strongly for a work of art – outside of his opera and classical reviews for the Financial Times. To me it seemed a great example of what good arts journalism can do. Also it seemed that was so unusual a work for SF Ballet that they didn't quite know what to do with it - how to promote it, etc.

 

Ulrich:

 

 

 

I was very grateful that they brought it back -- that was my opportunity to see it, and now I'm scheming to someday see it again.

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11 hours ago, Quiggin said:

The Bejart Company also did a revival of "Parade," in the 1960s. Unfortunately only the original manager's costume survived and was last seen in a Diaghilev exhibition Richard Buckle put together in 1955. The costumes for the Joffrey revival were said to be reasonable facsimilies but not to have the impact of Picasso's originals. I wonder if the costumes and sets Robert Rauschenberg did in the 1970s for Cunningham and other companies had some of the dazzling effect of those in "Parade" in 1917 (when e e cummings and Marcel Proust were in the audience)?

 

 

It's always exciting when a choreographer and a designer have a strong collaboration (thinking of Graham and Noguchi, and Rauschenberg and Brown).  In the case of the Joffrey revival -- I always wonder if the difference between a restaged work and an original work lies as much in the gestalt of the times as it does in the faithfulness of the reproduction. 

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San Francisco Ballet visited again in 1980 and Arlene Croce mentioned these works in her November 3rd review:

 

Michael Smuin -- A Song for Dead Warriors (1979)

Michael Smuin -- Mozart's C-minor Mass (1978)

Robert Gladstein -- Chichester Psalms (1980)

Lew Christensen -- Scarlatti Portfolio (1979 but Croce thought it looked like it came from 1950)

William Christensen -- Nothin' Doin' Bar (1950 but Croce thought it looked like it came from 1938)

 

She also mentions John McFall and Tomm Ruud but doesn't list any of their works by name. Croce had high praise for a new ballerina by the name of Evelyn Cisneros (who, of course, would go on to have a distinguished career spanning both the Smuin and Helgi Tomasson regimes) and described the San Francisco Ballet as, "a big, brash, variously accomplished but raring-to-go ballet company."

 

Interestingly, Cisneros may have ended up being the one point of continuity between the Christensen brothers, Smuin and Tomasson.

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4 hours ago, miliosr said:

Interestingly, Cisneros may have ended up being the one point of continuity between the Christensen brothers, Smuin and Tomasson.

 

Hadn't thought of that, but you've put your finger on something.  I've been thinking recently about the transition between directors here at Pacific Northwest Ballet, and even more than repertory, it's been the dancers that have really seemed significant.

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Tomasson was hired specifically to break from the Smuin regime, so it’s not surprising that many of the works from that era fell by the wayside.  And of course many ballets from a given era won’t survive. Probably quite a few of Tomasson’s house ballets won’t remain in repertory once he’s no longer around. However, I would expect more aesthetic continuity between Tomasson and his successor than between Smuin and Tomasson.

 

I remember rather liking Smuin's R&J, although I haven't seen it for many moons and don't know if that impression would hold up.

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Almost all of Kent Stowell's works have been gradually dropped by Peter Boal's regime.  I don't have my data with me, but I think the only short(ish) Stowell ballets performed under Boal have been "Carmina Burana," and maybe "Hail to the Conquering Hero," and possibly "Firebird."  Gradually the full-lengths have been dropped and/or replaced, leaving only "Swan Lake."

 

But it's not just the Stowell rep that has been dropped:  we've lost the Tetley "Rite of Spring," a star vehicle for Jonathan Porretta and Batkhurel Bold -- our "Rite" has been Fenley's solo "State of Darkness" -- and, IIRC, another Tetley, Tudor's "Dark Elegies," the one-act "Paquita," and some Balanchine ballets we saw under R&S, like "Mozartiana," "Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet," "Tchaikovsky PDD," for example.  I know I'm missing a bunch.

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48 minutes ago, dirac said:

 

I remember rather liking Smuin's R&J, although I haven't seen it for many moons and don't know if that impression would hold up.

 

I remember that R&J -- it was an early Dance in America broadcast.  There was a moment in the first scene, where a young child is killed during the first big fight scene -- the mother rushes downstage center with him in her arms and everything stops for a heartbeat.  Smuin is sometimes criticized for being too theatrically blatant, but of all the productions I've seen, that moment has stayed with me.

 

Some photos from different SFB productions

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1 hour ago, Helene said:

But it's not just the Stowell rep that has been dropped:  we've lost the Tetley "Rite of Spring," a star vehicle for Jonathan Porretta and Batkhurel Bold -- our "Rite" has been Fenley's solo "State of Darkness" -- and, IIRC, another Tetley, Tudor's "Dark Elegies," the one-act "Paquita," and some Balanchine ballets we saw under R&S, like "Mozartiana," "Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet," "Tchaikovsky PDD," for example.  I know I'm missing a bunch.

 

The company had a good relationship with Tetley (among other elements, he liked Patricia Barker in his works) -- they danced Voluntaries and Alice in Wonderland as well as his Rite.  They did Tudor's Lilac Garden as well as Dark Elegies.  They also did a number of Paul Taylor works (Roses and Company B, off the top of my head)

 

There are only so many weeks in a season, and there are many works that Boal has brought to Seattle that we are fortunate to have seen.  I've been thinking lately (following along with some of the discussions here on BA of other companies' rep) that part of my frustration with these losses have to do with the shift in the art form itself rather than any one AD's decisions.

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I'm sure it was "Voluntaries" that I saw.  I moved to Seattle after "Lilac Garden" and "Alice," but I got to see National Ballet of Canada perform it in NYC, with Karen Kain and the young Rex Harrington.  I don't remember seeing any Taylor in Seattle, but that could be my memory.

 

I miss seeing Tudor and Tetley.  Unfortunately, there are few companies keeping the lifeline going, unlike Balanchine and, to a lesser but still strong extent, Robbins.

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In a sense, A.D's have an 'embarrassment of riches' to work with, but they do, as a group, tend to follow trends in the art and worry little about budgeting for ballet history lessons (revivals). For the audience, the concerns are obviously a little different, but if one happens to not like the work of certain current choreographers, then the "ballet now!" repertoire might seem like a hard slog, or worse, a downturn for the art form. I imagine most art forms are said to be dying every 20 years or so (only to mysteriously rebound).

 

At SFB under Tomasson, there is always at least one Balanchine revival, and often a Robbins revival per season. Ballet Russes ballet revivals are much fewer and far between. Ashton or Tudor? Very few, and getting fewer.

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They do, but you don't want to have to rely on a Mahler to revive Mozart or a Bernstein to revive Mahler, or out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

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9 hours ago, Helene said:

They do, but you don't want to have to rely on a Mahler to revive Mozart or a Bernstein to revive Mahler, or out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

 

And the problem with those kind of revivals is that they depend on notated materials, which we have less of...

 

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For that period, at least there are some videos, a few PBS, and others in company libraries, usually single-camera affairs that, hopefully, have been transferred to digital, but that also has it's limitations.

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As much as I love heritage film and video, it is the record of the performance, not a documentation of the work.

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That is very true, but it's also what stagers say they go back to, when they need to confirm something.

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3 hours ago, Helene said:

That is very true, but it's also what stagers say they go back to, when they need to confirm something.

 

This is because very few stagers can read a notation system. 

 

Though there are people who stage from notation that use video to support the process. 

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Posted (edited)

On ‎7‎/‎11‎/‎2017 at 0:09 PM, dirac said:

Tomasson was hired specifically to break from the Smuin regime, so it’s not surprising that many of the works from that era fell by the wayside.  And of course many ballets from a given era won’t survive. Probably quite a few of Tomasson’s house ballets won’t remain in repertory once he’s no longer around. However, I would expect more aesthetic continuity between Tomasson and his successor than between Smuin and Tomasson.

With the exception of the Balanchine works in repertory, most everything else has gone under Tomasson. In making the break with Smuin classicism (which was M-G-M classicism in another form), Tomasson discovered there was not much to return to (from a repertory standpoint) as far as Christensen classicism was concerned. (Ironically, something like the recent Salome is a lot closer to Smuin than it is to any of the Christensen brothers.)

 

Many of the choreographers who are riding high today in repertories around the world will be in for the shock of their lives when they realize their fates will be similar to those of Ashton and Lifar and Massine and Tudor than they will be to Balanchine and Robbins.

Edited by miliosr

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It's been very interesting watching the gradual aesthetic shift at PNB -- it's been more incremental than I remember the change at SFB, but the end result is not so very different.

 

Wondering if the fact that Smuin went on to found a stand-alone company had any affect on SFB.  I don't recall off the top of my head if Smuin restaged very much of his earlier work for his company -- anyone here remember more details?

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On 6/12/2017 at 7:44 PM, pherank said:

 

 

If one wants to get a sense of where ballet is now, and where it is headed - best to keep searching - it won't be found at the Moscow International Competition.

 

 

Petipa laid out the molds...and they came to stay forever.✊

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On 7/12/2017 at 7:02 PM, sandik said:

 

This is because very few stagers can read a notation system. 

 

Though there are people who stage from notation that use video to support the process. 

In the latest Ballet Review Jean-Pierre Frohlich has some cogent things to say about the limitations of video. It's a valuable tool, but only one tool.

 

Thank you for those photos of the SFB R&J, sandik.

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38 minutes ago, dirac said:

In the latest Ballet Review Jean-Pierre Frohlich has some cogent things to say about the limitations of video. It's a valuable tool, but only one tool.

 

Thank you for those photos of the SFB R&J, sandik.

 

Good to know -- I have my copy, but haven't had a chance to read it yet (too much work).  Will move it to the top of the pile!

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