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Favorite Ballets Russes Choreographer?


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Poll: Favorite Ballets Russes Choreographer? (0 member(s) have cast votes)

Favorite Ballets Russes Choreographer?

  1. Fokine (11 votes [39.29%])

    Percentage of vote: 39.29%

  2. Nijinsky (5 votes [17.86%])

    Percentage of vote: 17.86%

  3. Massine (1 votes [3.57%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.57%

  4. Nijinska (3 votes [10.71%])

    Percentage of vote: 10.71%

  5. Balanchine (to 1929) (8 votes [28.57%])

    Percentage of vote: 28.57%

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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 04 May 2002 - 07:02 AM

In the Ballet Time Traveler poll, the Ballets Russes is the favorite destination (it's been consistently ahead since the beginning.) Most people have said their motivation is curiosity and wanting to be part of such an exciting period.

I wondered which choreographer of that era was your favorite? Fokine, Massine, Nijinsky, Nijinska, Balanchine (the 1920s Balanchine ONLY) for these purposes. Please answer this any way you like -- the one you're most curious about, the one you think was the greatest, the one you like the best, or think you would like the best.

#2 glebb

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Posted 04 May 2002 - 07:20 AM

Great one!

'Les Sylphides' was the first ballet I ever saw, so part of me thinks Fokine has to be the greatest. But then there's 'Apollo' and 'Prodigal Son'. Those are amazing too!

I have seen and even learned three Nijinsky ballets (or at least what we think they might have been).

I've been a part of Massine ballets, and they are quite fun to do.

I'll be learning Nijinska's 'Les Noces' next year, so I am most curious about her.

But I guess it's a Fokine/Balanchine tie, for me. :)

#3 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 04 May 2002 - 11:54 AM

Nijinska. Simply because of Les Noces.

#4 Ari

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Posted 04 May 2002 - 12:48 PM

I chose Nijinsky as the choreographer whose work I'd most like to see in its original form—that is, the actual original performances. Of all the choreographers listed, he is the one whose work has been the least well preserved (if it can even be said to have been preserved at all), and I'd like to see for myself what all the fuss (both negative and positive) has been about.

#5 Paul Parish

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Posted 04 May 2002 - 09:55 PM

I'm ....... hmmmmmm, how to put this -- I'd LOVE to know what Scheherezade was like when it was new..... choreographing that kind of movement for groups, how in the world did he get the rhythms set and estabish the ensemble.......

Having seen several different versions of Petroushka, I'd have to say the BIG difference between them was how organic the crowd movement seemed in Oakland Ballet's version..... the episodes each had their shape, their natural growth and subsiding, like waves -- like in Debussy's La Mer, the vagueness ("vague" is french for "wave") of it was what was wonderful, it wasn't fixed but it was FAR FROM being a mess.... like in Mahler's music, too, or Wagner's, there was a whole aesthetic built on this oceanic "flooding" movement, they were trying to imitate a complex natural phenomenon, and Fokine was far-gone in it -- Art Nouveau was very much about that --I wish I'd experienced it when the practitioners were in their prime.......

#6 Manhattnik

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Posted 06 May 2002 - 01:37 PM

I guess I'm the only one who'd like to see more works by poor ol' forgotten Massine. Ah well, that's always me. Odd man out....

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 06 May 2002 - 02:19 PM

Thank you, Manhattnik. I was worried that Massine would feel hurt, and I think he had quite a temper :D I would love to see more Massine. I saw the Joffrey's revival of "Les Presages" and thought it very interesting. I don't think it was as successful as their revival of other Ballets Russes works -- I would love to have seen the Bolshoi, around 1950 or 1960, do it. You need men who think it's just another day at the office to bound on to the stage as THE HERO. The Joffrey dancers gave one of the most sincere performances I've ever seen -- I think they were very well coached and they were trying as hard as they could to do the work justice. But it's just not an American work :)

I'd also like to see Choreartium -- any of his early symphonic ballets. The Paris Opera's revival of Symphonie Fantastique was very interesting -- dated costumes, and we're not used to animals bounding about on stage, but still interesting.

#8 atm711

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Posted 06 May 2002 - 02:59 PM

I chose Massine---oh to see 'The Good-Humored Ladies' and 'La Boutique Fantasque' --and while I'm at it--I'll take a couple from the 1930's--'Le Beau Danube' and 'Gaite Parisienne'. NO ONE can do ballets like these today. I've always been intrigued with the photos of 'Rouge et Noir' with Markova and Youskevitch, so I'll ask for that, too.--and one more request---performances by Danilova and Massine.

#9 Manhattnik

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Posted 07 May 2002 - 02:00 AM

When Massine died, the Dance Collection did a tribute to him, showing many films of his works. I remember being struck by the the rapidity and invention in "Good Humored Ladies," which was shown in a film of a 1960's revival by the Royal Ballet. I'd really love to see this performed onstage, if anybody remembers it now. I did love ABT's recent revival of Gaite Parisienne.

#10 Dale

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Posted 07 May 2002 - 03:29 AM

I chose Balanchine because it is the work I've seen from this time period. I do like the Fokine rep, but not as much as Apollo or Prodigal Son. The only Nijinska I've seen is Les Noce, which I enjoy. But I'd love to see Chopin Concerto with Danilova and Tallchief, but that is not from this time period. Now, Nijinski's work has left me cold (I saw the reconstructions several times at the Joffrey). Unfortunately, I've hardly seen Massine (only Gaite Parisienne at ABT and on a short Danilova tape, and a snatch of Good Humored Ladies), so I would definitely list him as the choreographer I'd most like to see works from this era. From what ATM711 wrote and from what I've read, Massine's works were very dependant on those whom originally performed them. Not that the ballets themselves are not strong enough, but that a certain art of performance recquired for Massine's works is missing from today's dancer.

#11 atm711

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Posted 08 May 2002 - 03:26 AM

Dale--I did see 'Chopin Concerto' performed by the Denham BR, but at the time it paled in comparison to the Balanchine we were seeing.

#12 Jane Simpson

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Posted 08 May 2002 - 07:31 AM

So far as I remember, the RB's revival of The Good Humoured Ladies was absolutely slated by the critics, who thought that most of the dancers hadn't a clue about the style and that the ballet had lost almost all of its charm - so if today we think it looks good, how much better must the original have been?

#13 Alexandra

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Posted 08 May 2002 - 09:25 AM

Originally posted by Jane Simpson
So far as I remember, the RB's revival of The Good Humoured Ladies was absolutely slated by the critics, who thought that most of the dancers hadn't a clue about the style and that the ballet had lost almost all of its charm - so if today we think it looks good, how much better must the original have been?


Good point, Jane. I often think of this with Bournonville ballets. I've seen several generations now, either live or on video, and there's something about the structure that holds, and the fact that the dancers, even when they're clowning or hamming or ill coached, are so alive on stage, and so practiced in making something out of nothing that they'll give a performance -- and people who haven't seen a better version find something to like in it. I can chart the ups and downs of the Bournonville rep since the 1950s, but not before that -- I'm sure even what I think of as fine performances are quite different from the originals.

The same thing is happening -- has almost completely happened -- with Ashton. I once agreed with the school of though that Balanchine was "dancer proof" but I've seen a few performances (NOT by NYCB) that proved that even something with a rock solid structure built to withstand problematic interpretations can become frayed.

What DID Fokine and Massine ballets look like? (Or, since she's the same time frame, Isadora's dances? I've just been reading some firsthand accounts of her early performances where the writer catches the breathlessness of what it must have been like to watch her.)

Should we even bother? (In pessimistic mode). I was struck a few years ago to hear a comment by a Ballets Russes ballerina who said, considering the state of the ballet world today, and how ballets that she knew now looked, she was glad Massine's ballets were dead. She'd rather remember them as they were.

There's a very good case that can be made that ballet is only great when it is new and fresh and lived in -- alas, that wouldn't leave us very much to look at, would it?

#14 Paul Parish

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Posted 09 May 2002 - 08:13 PM

What DID Fokine and Massine ballets look like? (Or, since she's the same time frame, Isadora's dances? I've just been reading some firsthand accounts of her early performances where the writer catches the breathlessness of what it must have been like to watch her.)

I remember being really struck in reading Kchessinska's autobiography, her response to Isadora DUncan --

Kchessinska's book is most ly about all the applause she got and the dinners she ate and hte wine she drank, BUT she says when she first saw Isadora, she got so excited she jumped up on her chair and cheered...... and that made me really wish I'd seen HER


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