Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Manhattnik

The Least Foul Swan?

  

  1. 1. The Least Foul Swan?

    • Martins' -- what's a court without a Jester?
      5
    • McKenzie's -- two Rothbarts are better than one!
      3
    • Both are equally good/bad (Go ahead, wimp out and choose this one!)
      4
    • The one I'm watching at the moment.
      0
    • The one I'm NOT watching at the moment.
      6

Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.

21 posts in this topic

While watching Kevin McKenzie's, um, interesting Swan Lake at ABT last night (Yes, Nina A was wonderful, more elsewhere), I was reminded of how both NYCB and ABT recently presented us with new, "rethought" productions of Swan Lake. Whenever I see one of these productions -- McKenzie's or Peter Martins' -- I often find myself re-evaluating the two, trying to decide which I like better (or least).

If BA had been blessed with a poll-making feature back then, I'm sure we'd have seen this poll already, as we spent quite a bit of time hashing and rehashing this very question. However, I've never been one to avoid beating a dead horse, so here it is again.

Share this post


Link to post

Great poll, Manhattnik. I don't think either are good. The question down here, after the recent visit by the Grigorovich version, was "which is worse, this or Kevin's?" or "Peter's" depending on who was asking the question.

At the end of the run, I think most of the people I was talking with agreed that, as much as we disliked the Grigorovich, we'd take it, hands down, over either or both of the other two.

Share this post


Link to post

While I was certainly less than thrilled with Kevin's, I still think that Peter's tops any poll for worst ever. It's on a par with Kevin's Nuts......almost. That was the absolute worst production I have had the misfortune to suffer through. :(

Share this post


Link to post

Worst ever? Not Martins's. The hand-down winner for me is Nureyev's for POB. That was a horror. Grigorovich's is second. (I haven't seen the Mackenzie, so I can't comment, or vote.)

Share this post


Link to post

ms leigh,

i dont mean this sarcasticly at all, but i wonder if u could tell me wat it is that is so terrrible about the production. i live in london and therefore have had no exposure to this production but im intigued to hear that the production made by such a senior person was seen to be such a disaster. (very much i assume like antony doweels swan lake 4 the RB)

Share this post


Link to post

Jude, there were many differing opinions on both Kevin McKenzie's version for ABT and Peter Martins' for NYCB. I think a lot of those threads should still be up -- take a look through the ABT and NYCB company forums for some of those posts (set your viewing option to expose all posts), or do a search for McKenzie AND Swan Lake or Martins AND Swan Lake.

Share this post


Link to post

I haven't voted yet (I may wimp out and vote both), but I think McKenzie's was the most disappointing, because ABT had a decent (not great, but decent) version which needed some tweaking and redesigning to be very good. Instead, it missed the point on every angle, time period, story, theatricality (good heavens, theater 101 certainly should talk about creating an entrance for the ballerina and how to focus the end of the first act on Siegfried), moral seriousness, design, etc., etc. Though ABT does have the dancers, which by and large NYCB didn't. But as I wrote in one of my reviews, good Swan Lakes are all alike, and bad ones are bad in their own individual way.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks for that last choice, Manhattnik, thereby making it possible to cast an intelligent vote. I did enjoy Brian Reeder's unJolly Green Giant of Rothbart #1 last night, though.

Share this post


Link to post

Yes, Mary, that first-act ending of McKenzie's is particularly incomprehensible. Siegfried slinks off so we barely notice he's gone, then Benno comes charging back to fetch his crossbow, because Siegfried didn't have enough sense to bring it with him in the first place? And I still don't get the point of the flirty girl...

It was awhile before I actually realized what Brian Reeder looks like. He's always wearing that Creature from the Green Lagoon bodysuit, or a bushy moustache as Prince Gremin, or the like.

I wonder if we took up a collection, could we bribe McKenzie to bring back the David Blair version?

I feel a "Swan Lake from Hell" thread coming on. Except after my experience with jokingly imagining an Eifman ballet about Balanchine, I am afraid -- if we name a demon, we may end up summoning it!

Share this post


Link to post

Both are flawed.

A quick take on what is wrong: McKenzie's -- the cutting of much of Act IV, while I think the idea of a two Rothbarts interesting, many people have pointed out that green blob guy is wrong, Rothbart is an owl, not a green blob guy. KM's own choreography is not very interesting to me. I found much of the Act I dances too jolly and Act III boring, though the evil sexy Rothbart isn't that bad, especially when danced by Gomes :D

Martins' -- Glosses over the story so quickly, it loses cohesion; not enough mime; some of his choreography is a little fussy -- hard for hard sake; scenery not the greatest.

Now some good -- McKenzie's -- Nice mime in the Act II, pretty costumes and scenery. Martins' -- I like the choreography, some of it by Balanchine, and the last act, although doesn't make much sense story-wise, is very beautiful.

Share this post


Link to post

The worst ever?--surely Matthew Bourne's fiasco.

Share this post


Link to post

Well, maybe. Matthew Bourne made no pretense of presenting "the" Swan Lake. He was presenting "a" Swan Lake. A version, an interpretation, a recension, what have-you. (Yes, yes, what-have-you can be answered any number of ways.) His is a meta-Swan Lake. Not that I liked it, believe me. I loathed it. But it was a vigorous loathing. I almost yearn for it in retrospect. I wasn't sitting there wondering"What's that?" "Who's that"-- or worse yet--"What Happened?" The NYCB Swan's worst flaw was driving the one act Balanchine out of the rep. (I love that one-act.) ABT's was making you roll on the floor laughing at Von Rothbart. He's always silly. there's no way to be a giant owl without being silly (you enter in a bird suit, you flap your wings, you try to see out of the eye holes in the neck of your owl head; it's not good), but the giant iguana added the unfortunate element of comedic surprise. I remember sitting in the house thinking, "This is not supposed to be funny." But it was, it was.

Share this post


Link to post

It doesn't seem that the Martins version supplanted the Balanchine one - it was the one-act Balanchine version back in repertory in winter and spring this year. I was happy to see it too!

Share this post


Link to post

I haven't seen ABT's SWAN LAKE (reading the posts I don't want to do so) and I find NYCB's very entertaining but I'd say that any SWAN LAKE that takes as many liberties with the original libretto, score (I think it essential that all stage version adhere closely to Drigo's arrangement), and choreography as most current stagings do are the worst. By the way, are we EVER going to see a White Swan pas de deux with Benno assisting in the partnering. I've never seen it onstage but I've read detailed descriptions of it and seen pictures and not only did it look and sound lovely but it's Ivanov's original intent. Yeah, I know Paul Gerdt was too old to do the lifts all by his lonesome but Ivanov worked around it and apparently created something gorgeous working with the limitations. I remember reading that critics complained when Nicolai Legat took all the lifts on himself when dancing Siegfried so the pas de deux a trois couldn't have been that bad of an idea.

Share this post


Link to post

Surprisingly, it's not Benno that does the lifts! It's Siegfried from the very beginning according to the Sergeyev notation, and he makes the sort of pas de deux à trois that has his buddy turn his girlfriend around in voluptuous promenades, while he sort of telegraphs to the audience, "Oh, there she is; isn't she beautiful!":) That's completely within the purview of that sort of pas de deux, viz: Corsaire! Siegfried is a danseur noble, Benno is a classique, or demi-caractere, even.

Share this post


Link to post

I've always wanted to start a Bring Back Benno club -- and NOT to have him dance the pas de trois in ACT I, either, but the Act II pas de trois, as Mel describes. All Benno does to "assist" in the partnering is one catch, which no one, of whatever age, could do, since one cannot throw and catch the ballerina at the same time. I've always thought this is another of those things we in the West got wrong. We assumed the man and the woman had to have the same amount of dancing, when the man didn't we looked for the answer -- aha! the guy was old! -- instead of, "Hmm. It says here the danseur noble dances the slow and stately measures, not the quick ones."

Benno was a danseur noble, second rank, I believe, and it would be nice to have him back again. Siegfried needs someone to talk to.

Share this post


Link to post

I didn't know that Benno didn't do the lifts! It changes my whole conception of the pas de deux although I'd still like to see him back.

Share this post


Link to post

There's a video! Royal Ballet, c. 1956. Fonteyn and Somes -- and, alas, I forget the who was Benno. rg, or someone else, will know, I'm sure.

What's really interesting is that the Act II pas de trois had an analog in Act III -- with Von Rothbart taking part in Black Swan "pas de deux."

(And there were huntsmen in Act II. So much has been vacuumed out.)

John-Michael, you may be interested in checking out some of our Archives. We had a "ballet of the month" discussion group for awhile, and those discussions are preserved in the Archives, filed under the name of the ballet. Doug Fullington, especially, who's a musicologist and reader of Stepanov notation, very generously contributed some wonderful posts.

Share this post


Link to post

the particulars of the video in question are as follows:

The Royal Ballet :1960.

Notes:A J. Arthur Rank presentation. Produced by Paul Czinner Productions for Poetic Films Ltd. in association with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Producer and director: Paul Czinner. Performed by the Royal Ballet, London, starring Margot Fonteyn and Michael Somes.

: CONTENTS: Swan lake: Act II excerpts (Valse, pas de deux, pas de quatre, rondo, and coda). Choreography: Frederick Ashton and Nikolai Sergeev after Ivanov and Petipa. Sets and costumes: Leslie Hurry. Cast: Margot Fonteyn (Odette), Michael Somes (Prince Siegfried), Bryan Ashbridge (Benno), Leslie Edwards (Von Rothbart); Ann Howard, Mavis Osborn, Clover Roope, and Antoinette Sibley (Cygnets), and corps de ballet

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks, Alexandra, for the info on the dance archives. I'm very new to the site so I haven't really gotten a chance to check everything out yet. My unofficial major at Sarah Lawrence (the school doesn't have majors) was dance history and I'm especially interested in Petipa but don't have access to a library with good dance material. At college I used to spend hours reading in the dance collection so this will be a special treat for me :).

Share this post


Link to post

You're welcome -- I hope you enjoy them.

There's more to the site than the message board, too, and you might be interested in some of the material in our Ballets section

http://www.balletalert.com/ballets/ballets.htm

So far, it's all been by Mel Johnson, and on the Petipa-Ivanov ballets. He did a terrific job with these, I think (and I'm hoping for many more, from him and others :) ) and there's a lot of information in there that was new to me!

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0