The National Ballet of Anywhere!
Posted 13 May 2002 - 10:21 AM
Also (credit where due), the expression isn't exactly mine, it's been said before.
I'm sure we've all seen the National Ballet of Anywhere. We certainly know their repertory, which at present seems to consist of Onegin, Jewels and Forsythe and Nacho Duato for those cutting edge moments (it used to be In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated and Na Floresta, now it's The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude and Without Words or Remanso)
Onegin seems to separate the National Ballet of Anywhere from the Regional Anywhere Ballet, which substitutes Dracula for it.
Can anyone else help formulate the repertory and artistic policy (!) of the National Ballet of Anywhere?
Posted 13 May 2002 - 10:49 AM
Posted 13 May 2002 - 10:54 AM
I suppose this is globalization, ballet style. Having a Generic Repertory means that today's stars can dance anywhere. There used to be problems with a star from one company "fitting in" another company's repertories. No problem, when neither dancers nor repertories don't have distinctive styles.
Paris still remains comparatively distinctive, despite a polyglot repertory, because its school is so strong. It dances everything with a distinctive style. That used to be said of every company, but the ones that travel the most -- i.e., come to New York and London -- like the Kirov and the Bolshoi were constantly knocked in the head for this. They "don't know how" to dance Balanchine (i.e., they dance it in their native language).
Both the Kirov and Bolshoi have great traditions, of course, and very distinctive styles -- but how long will that continue; they're moving into the Generic Repertory as I type.
I think this is driven by economics -- it's much cheaper not to rehearse things -- by lack of distinctive major choreographers, who MUST create in a specific language and spurn globalglot. And by dancers and audiences. The former want to dance everything -- how dare you put me in a box? -- and the latter want to see their favorite dancers dance everything, and there's no persuasive alternative.
I think Leigh has much of the core repertory. Add to that, a Rethought Swan Lake; the ubiquitous "Sleeping Beauty with More Men in It"; the fauxballet repertory -- Merry Widow, Madame Butterfly. The more contemporary choreographers vary year to year. One year, a lot of companies had ballets by Val Caniparoli, the next, Lila York, the next, Kevin O'Day.
Estelle -- "Manon" is definitely a part of this trend. Romeo and Julet -- another regional/national distinction, perhaps. Most big companies have MacMillan (a few have the Cranko) while smaller companies have a Romeo and Juliet choreographed by the resident choreographer/artistic director.
I remember Clive Barnes complaining in the 1960s that "Swan Lake" was becoming too common. I'm paraphrasing, but "every German ballet company is giving the dancers Swan Lake as it gives them their toe shoes." I didn't understand that when I first read it. How could it be wrong for everyone to dance Swan Lake? Ah, in the immortal words of that great poet, Bob Dylan, "But I was so much older then, I'm younger than that, now."
Posted 13 May 2002 - 05:55 PM
I suppose we could throw in the Token Work from the Previous Regime/Tradition. "Oh, we haven't thrown out Tudor/Bournonville/Ashton, why, just last season we did Dim Lustre/La Sylphide/Fille. We just need to give him rest so he'll be fresh the next time we revive him."
Posted 13 May 2002 - 06:00 PM
"Jewels" is also becoming the Trophy Ballet signifying "We've arrived! We do Jewels!" that Sleeping Beauty became in the 1980s and 1990s.
It's also interesting to watch the token Balanchine rep evolve -- one per year per company now (with notable exceptions, PNB and MCB among them). A decade ago, this rep was Serenade, Concerto Barocco and Four Ts. Today it's as likely to be Divertimento No. 15 and Slaughter!
At the Dance Critics Association Conference several years ago, Doris Hering (the Helen Thomas of dance critics) hosted a panel of regional artistic directors, each of whom quite proud of their repertories, which they believed (not having seen the other guys' reps) were unique to their company. They were all very surprised when Doris asked them to list the ballets in rep that year, and more than half of them were on everybody's list.
Posted 13 May 2002 - 06:38 PM
Thank God I never realized my dream of becoming a dance critic!
Posted 13 May 2002 - 06:42 PM
Posted 13 May 2002 - 08:11 PM
Others that may serve a similar purpose include the following, none of which I've actually seen: Princess and the Pea, Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and The Beast, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pied Piper. Hey, if Disney could make a movie, why not have a ballet to go with it? But that's an entirely different thread altogether.
For the grownups, there's always Etudes, Apollo, Theme & Variations, Serenade, Paquita, and Les Sylphides for one-acts, and the full lengths Coppelia and Cinderella [preferably Stevenson]. Not to mention specially commissioned versions of Carmina Burana and Firebird. Bonus points for removing any 19th century ballet from its original historical setting and putting it in another. Even more bonus points for avant-garde adaptations of said classics. Giselle with AIDS, Siegfried with Oedipal complex... this too is another thread.
Like Morris Neighbor, I feel that I have done the world a great service in rejecting dance criticism as a career.
Posted 14 May 2002 - 12:26 AM
I, for one, would be quite happy to see a bit more of "token Balanchine repertory" (and I don't think "Divertimento n.15" has been performed in France in the last decade...)- rather than, for example, the "token Blanca Li/ Jean-Claude Gallotta/ Regine
Chopinot repertory" for a ballet company...
When having a look at the season programs of companies of Northern Europe (Germany, Netherlands, Denmark), it seemed to me that John Neumeier was ubiquitous in the programs of the National Ballets of Anywhere in Those Regions.
Posted 14 May 2002 - 06:59 AM
There is a difference between the National Ballets of Anywhere Else (that the Royal Ballet's rep and ABT's rep, and Canada's, and the Royal Danish, and, on its way, the Kirov's are becoming so similar) and the We Are Not Regional Ballet Companies'! Reps. The latter are stocked with many works by the house choreographer, who is Not Balanchine, Not Tudor, Not Ashton. Nutcracker is the lynchpin, as Ballet Nut pointed out. And the mini-classics and the fauxclassics are important mainstays, too.
Posted 14 May 2002 - 12:33 PM
Posted 15 May 2002 - 05:50 PM
At the same time, however, I must note that the increasingly commercial nature of support for arts institutions (at least here in the US, and from what I have seen, in Western Europe as well) has a constricting effect. For instance, the New York City Ballet has offered a Christmas-season Nutcracker for some four decades. Faced with four weeks of the same ballet, dancers tended to rebel, and the New Year's Eve performance became known for its high-jinx -- pink bows on the mouses' tails, multiple dancers leaping from the "Tea" box, a conducter (Robert Irving) appearing in full drag for the second act, and so on. In recent years, Peter Martins has forcefully discouraged such trickery, on the grounds that "the audience has paid too much to see anything but the real thing."
OK, but he's also discouraged me from attending my umpteenth performance.
When it comes to Nutcracker commentaries, Mark Morris has written the book. His The Cracked Nut, set to the original score and alluding to the original scenario, but including a black drag nanny and Freud to help Tchaikivsky deal with his fantasies, puts the work in a contemporary context. Its audience was limited but its insights are worth noting.
Posted 16 May 2002 - 07:43 AM
Posted 16 May 2002 - 08:01 AM
And the rep *must* include at least one Paul Taylor work, to show that they 'can do modern'!
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