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NYCB after Martins?


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#16 Manhattnik

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Posted 10 July 2001 - 08:27 AM

Oh, how could I have forgotten?

Bathilde: Helene Alexopolous
Hilarion: Sebastien Marcovicci

Marcovicci would also play Hilarion with the alternate leads:

Giselle: Yvonne Borree
Albrecht: Nikolaj Hubbe

[ 07-10-2001: Message edited by: Manhattnik ]

#17 Alexandra

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Posted 10 July 2001 - 10:23 AM

As delightfully wicked as this is, before the thread gets totally off-track, I think it's an interesting, serious question, and I'd like to read some more answers :)

I'd add that in addition to A) Creator and B) Conservator, it is possible to have C) Creator/Conservator and D) neither. Always looking on the bright side....

#18 Manhattnik

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Posted 10 July 2001 - 11:29 AM

There could be worse models than the Joffrey when Robert Joffrey was running it. Joffrey collected interesting, historical ballets just as others might collect Old Masters. Arpino created the modern, with-it stuff. It made for a company with a distinctly split personality, yet I think it was very successful at what it did.

NYCB is fortunate in that it already has several wings of Old Masters in its repertory.

#19 LMCtech

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Posted 10 July 2001 - 12:36 PM

I would like to clarify my previous statement.

A company needs to do new works. Whether they stay in the repertory is another matter. Many mediocre new works stay in the repertory of a company for a few seasons then disappear. But NYCB will always do Balanchine. They should also get the experience of creating a ballet, because it is a totally different process and necessary to a dancers development as an artist.

I worry that a leader that is only a conservator would lose good dancers because they were not getting challenged as they could in a company with a leader who makes new works (preferably good ones). I suppose they could bring in outside choreographers, but that lacks continuity. I don't worry that the NYCB board would ever choose a leader that had no interest in conserving.
I also don't worry that the next leader of the NYCB would create so many new works that the Balanchine (and Robbins, I might add) would get pushed out. Those older works after all, sell tickets.

#20 Dance Fan

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Posted 11 July 2001 - 09:34 PM

When the beloved, legendary founder-head of an artistic institution passes on, the immediate successor is almost always the fall guy. The press and the public, in their grief for the great one, tend to attack every move of the hapless new director as retrograde, inept, or disrespectful of the institution's tradition. That person is then hounded out of position, and, their need for a blood sacrifice sated, the fans are able to accept the efforts of the third person to take on the job. The classic example is New York's Public Theater: When Joe Papp died, the directorship went to the unjustly maligned Joanne Akalaitis, and from her to George C. Wolfe.

The interesting thing about Martins is how he has managed to hold on to his directorship, despite unceasing, bitter criticism from some who see nothing of merit in the work he has done for nearly twenty years. These are the same people who will be poised to attack HIS successor.
Whoever takes over, one can only hope and pray that it will be an actual ballet dancer, someone who has danced Balanchine, Robbins' and yes, Martins' ballets.

Over the years, many choreographic darlings of the avant-garde have been proposed as the "true" heirs of Balanchine, mainly because they said they were. One can only pray that the company's board will act prudently when the time comes, and choose wisely.

#21 cargill

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Posted 12 July 2001 - 08:31 AM

In general, this may be true, that the successor of a great person is maligned unfairly, but I don't think it is always the case. Ashton took over the Royal Ballet from de Valois, one of the all time great, imaginary leaders, and there was no outburst of criticism of his leadership. By and large, he was praised for his additions to their repertoire, especially for bringing in Nijinska. (No grumbling about doing old choreography, or cries for the new.)
It is certainly true that many New York writers have been critical of Peter Martins recently, but that attitude developed gradually. If you read things written soon after he assumed the position, people were, as I recall, extremely positive. And one of the first major things he did was revive Liebeslieder Walzer, which was, in my opinion, brilliantly cast and carefully rehearsed, and was greated by almost uniform rapture--I don't remember any complaints. Certainly Croce, who people would put firmly in the anti-Martins camp now I think, praised it and him to the skys. I think it is a little too easy to dismiss all the Peter Martins comments as a knee-jerk reaction of post-genius depression.

#22 Alexandra

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Posted 12 July 2001 - 08:45 AM

I agree, particularly with the last sentence. I also think one's perceptions of how Martins' directorship is perceived in the press depends very much on which press one reads. The daily press is generally very supportive. The weekly/monthly/occasional press is mixed. The subscriber/audience/fan reaction is, of course, impossible to measure. It would be interesting to take a poll :)

For regular NYCB-goers, what's your perception of the kind of direction people would like the company to take? More Balanchine/Robbins? More Diamond Projects? More Wheeldon? More something else? Has Wheeldon's appointment as resident choreographer meant that he's seen as the annointed successor?

#23 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 14 July 2001 - 05:32 AM

i always felt that at least these days, a company would do better to have a director who was not a choreographer, and not necessarily only a conservator but a combination of conservator and nurturer. another balanchine (in the sense of the scope of his genius) would be nice, but i'm not sure that it could happen again these days, not for all practical purposes. and if that is the case, then someone with love for what came before and enthusiasm for what is coming ahead, along with a nurturing spirit for what is, might be just the thing.

#24 LMCtech

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Posted 14 July 2001 - 11:59 AM

I keep reading this: another Balanchine would be nice but unlikely. Why is that unlikely?

#25 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 14 July 2001 - 02:06 PM

You beat me to the question, LMCTech.

Geniuses are rare, certainly, but is genius a unique occurrence?

#26 dirac

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Posted 14 July 2001 - 06:33 PM

Well, you have Petipa in the 19th century and Balanchine for the 20th, which averages out to one per century. (This is not to say that Ashton, for example, wasn't a genius; we're looking at a particularly rara avis, the creator who redefines his art for generations.) And there are those who might argue that Balanchine surpasses all others in terms of his transforming influence, which means that in several hundred years ballet has produced just....one of him. There is also the question of whether current conditions are right for the emergence of such a figure. This is not to say it won't happen (or hasn't happened).....

#27 Alexandra

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Posted 14 July 2001 - 07:33 PM

We don't know for how many generations Balanchine will redefine the art yet. One of my questions for dance history finals is this: It is 1940. You are a balletomane and adore Massine, as does much of the ballet world. You find you have a rare disease, but you have lots of money and choose to take part in an experiment, to be frozen and revived later when a cure is found. It is 1960. Thawed and cured, you clutch the hand of your doctor -- also a balletomane -- and your first question is, "Tell me, how is Massine?" You are the doctor. What would your answer be?

One 19th century choreographer that's seldom mentioned is Jules Perrot -- who, by contemporary accounts, was very broadly revered and, for many, defined ballet -- and rightly so. One of the questions Ivor Guest postulates is, what would have happened if there had been a Ninette De Valois in the 1850s in London? What would ballet look like today? This isn't to denigrate Petipa (or Balanchine) but to point, again, to institutional and historical influences -- chance or Fate or both -- on what survives.

Lest what I've written causes a misunderstanding, I try to look at dance in a broad context, often through a historical or political lens. This is by no means the only way to look at dance, but it's mine. When I say that we don't yet know what Balanchine's effect will be, I don't mean to suggest that future generations will say, "Boy, what did they ever see in that guy?" but that Balanchine is still influential because his aesthetic is still alive and that, to go back to Jane's opening question and Manhattnik's early response, is largely due to Martins' not replacing it with anything else, whether by accident or design. There were rumors at the time of Balanchine's death that Kirstein wanted a Great Choreographer and was thinking of offering the company to Paul Taylor. What would that have meant? What if the company had gone to Twyla Tharp or Mark Morris -- both have been mentioned occasionally, though not officially, as far as I know -- or Eliot Feld? Or El Drecko (consort of La Sublimova, a choreographer so vile that all of us would look at his work and run yet who may be a great man of the theater, or circus, or synchronized swimming, or something that's the antithesis of Balanchine but that would find an audience. It's all totally unpredictable, I think.

[ 07-14-2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]

#28 Nanatchka

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Posted 15 July 2001 - 03:35 PM

There will be another genius, at some point, possibly, but there cannot be another Balanchine. Even Balanchine, born now, in, say, Chicago, wouldn't have been the Balanchine we had. And even if we had a Balanchne clone, we'd need a Diagaliev, and a Kirstein. And a Tsar, too.

#29 Diana L

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Posted 15 July 2001 - 05:19 PM

Nietzsche once said that "Before the beginning of great brilliance, there must be chaos"
I think in some ways, we're going through that chaos right now.
In 100 years people might not know who the heck Balanchine is and someone might find some tapes and come up with something similar with their own twist and it will be new again.

#30 Nanatchka

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Posted 16 July 2001 - 08:00 AM

"chaos..."
Who knew chaos could be so tiresome and tedious?


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