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Mel Johnson

Worst idea for a new ballet

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OK, folks, it's August and the doldrums are upon us! What say we propose new and truly lousy ideas for a ballet? Be aware, though, that as soon as you propose it, somebody is likely to come out with, "Oh, I saw that!"

A couple of years ago, the long-run winner was a combination of Life of the Slime Mold and Moby-Dick! At least no one had ever seen THAT before!

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Funny you should mention this Mel. . .

Manhattnik and I were at Universal Ballet yesterday and realized that La Bayadere just wasn't peppy enough. We're thinking it needs to be reset. To Texas.

Yoohoo. . .Manhattnik. . .

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i was going to suggest a ballet about an accountant when i realized that i had already seen one about michael milken...sigh.

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i have to say gone with the wind...oh wait, there are plans for that.

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Originally posted by Mel Johnson:

What say we propose new and truly lousy ideas for a ballet?  Be aware, though, that as soon as you propose it, somebody is likely to come out with, "Oh, I saw that!"

I remember the discussions of Moby Dick on alt.arts.ballet a few Augusts ago. We had a wonderful time with it -- pas de poissons, fish dives, the whole lot. (I imagined Moby as a ballerina role, tutu and all, with a whole corps of little white whales; Juliet costumed them.)

And then someone -- quite seriously -- wrote in and said that her daughter's school in Connecticut had danced it last summer.

The other side of this coin, is if you propose a really really bad ballet, if it hasn't already been done, it will be next year. But I will offer one. I've always thought that someone (and I once had a choreographer in mind) could do a nice "Cannonade" to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

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I don't know if the question leads too far apart - but when reading this topic, I was wondering what is worse:

A theme totally unsuited as story of a ballet - or a bad ballet with no story at all...? (Then, you can't even blame it on the subject...)

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I think we need some help from contributors to flesh this idea out, but after enjoying the way over-the-top confrontation between Nikiya and Gamzatti in this production (I still have fond memories of Markarava's Nikiya vs the Gamzatti of Cynthia Gregory, who was born to the role), Leigh and I realized it was just like something straight out of Dynasty, or Dallas. So was born the Texas Bayadere.

I'd thought that instead of Shades we'd have row after row of line dancers, but there's nothing particularly special or sancrosanct about line dancers, even in Texas. Our Nikki could only be -- a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader! Think of the visual impact of Cowgirl after Cowgirl high-kicking her way down the tiers of a heavenly Cowboys Stadium, waving their pom-poms in glorious synchronization.....

Of course, Gammy is the daughter of an oil-magnate-turned-President, and Billy-Jo Solor is the Cowboy's quarterback (he'll make his Act II entrance astride a mechanical bull instead of an elephant).

Haven't figured out what the parrot girls would translate to....

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Funny though the idea of the Texas Bayadere is (Billy-Joe Solor is wonderful), in a way it just shows what an effective libretto Petipa was working with. At the bottom of all that ham, there are real, believable human feelings. And did you know that there was a version (as a joke) of Wagner's Ring set in Texas, called Das Bar-be-que. I forget all the details but they were as funny as Billy Joe Solor on his mechanical bull.

As for a truly bad idea, Amarcord seems pretty hard to beat.

As for a bad idea that hasn't been tried, I was actually thinking on my way to work that I was very glad I haven't seen Der Winterreise danced to. There are some works that are so self-contained that the idea of dancing to them trivializes the original.

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One of the local ballet directors has proposed "The Last Nutcracker: the Year the Mice Won," in which Clara visits the Land of Cheeses. By the middle of December it seems like a good idea.

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Some titles that will never be used:

Robocop Usher

Die Hard at the Ballet

Friday the Thirteenth Nutcracker

Dawn of the Dead Sleeping Beauty

Star Wars Episode Two: Giselle Strikes Back

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I thought we had already done this last November: remember the "Ballet of the Butterfly Ballots"???

I was trying to think of really LONG ballets: War and Peace (complete with battles), The Bible (Old and New Testaments complete with apocrypha), and then there could be the "NOT SUITABLE FOR THE MATINEE CROWD" versions of books by DeSade: "Justine" might be interesting!

I guess almost anything could be made into a ballet, but whether it SHOULD is another story. Those of you who read my rants some months ago about the Birmingham Royal Ballet's "Edward II" (and this list didn't exist at the time I saw the POB's "St. Sebastian" - which also would have merited a "rant") know how I feel.

:D

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Not exactly a bad ballet idea, but Glazunov's "Scenes de Ballet" have always intrigued me, especially the beautiful pas d'action. (Used by Ashton in "Birthday Offering") Now, the music isn't from any ballets at all, it just sounds like ballet music. I've always wanted to do this as a pas d'action from a "lost" ballet with a "lost" libretto by the redoutable Leo Tolstoi and his cast of thousands, especially the part where the ballerina is doing a one-hand promenade with her partner and the entire Preobrazhensky Guard goes charging across the stage....

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I think felursus is right and we did have a similar thread, in addition to the "butterfly ballot" thread (let's not revisit THAT again!). But there are new visitors to the board, and of course old timers may be inspired to think of new bad ballet concepts in the interim. What about this: "Thirteen Days: a Balletic Intepretation of the Cuban Missile Crisis." Something along the lines of "Nixon in China."

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I think the Texas La Bayadere could have a really good men's dance (a la Sparticus) taking place in the lockerroom with his teammates, clad of course in towels :D

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Of course the guys would be wearing some towels, and snapping others at each other. Heck, if Spartacus could leap around with a sword in each hand, why not let Billy-Joe Solor do the same with snapping towels?

I can see him manfully vanquishing his teammates in this mock combat with a series of barrel turns while gymnastically snapping towels in each hand.

I think it has potential.

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Winterreise - too late, Mary: Robert North did a piece called A Stranger I Came for ENB a few years ago, which used a mixture of Schubert songs including the last one from Winterreise. I did not enjoy it.

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And in the grand tradition of the Super Bowl, we can have a number to "Up with People" Who is after Nikki? The head coach? Instead of the dance of the priests, he could do a pas de quatre with his assistant coaches.

For a bad new ballet, I nominate the "Susan Smith Story" Ben Stevenson can do it in the style of Anastasia by McMillian but he'll collaborate with David Parsons, who will do a "dance of the dead children" -- like the one he did for Pied Piper. It would be a great role for a top dramatic ballerina. Music by John Adams.

[ 08-07-2001: Message edited by: Dale ]

[ 08-07-2001: Message edited by: Dale ]

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More Texas Bayaderisms:

Dead Tiger on a Stick ---> Superbowl Game Ball.

Golden Idol ---> Dancing Vince Lombardi Trophy

American Indian Tom-Tom Dance ---> American Indian Tom-Tom Dance

Gal with Pitcher on Head ---> Gal with Kitchen Sink on Head.

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With Ethan Stiefel as the Neal Cassady character, perhaps? The motorcycle could make a cameo appearance....

[ 08-07-2001: Message edited by: Alla ]

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Hey, I'm from Texas so I'd like to contribute. Instead of parrots, how about giant margaritas (perhaps the Bush twins could be cast in this scene!)

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In keeping with the current climate:

Temple Dancers -------> Lap Dancers

Let's make Nikki really work for her piastres!

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You know, I think Mark Morris could actually make Texas Bayadere work ... No, really, I'm being serious! Now there's a choreographer who could mutate the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders into the Kingdom of the Shades. I would make the trek to BAM and pay good money to see it! But would Morris -- such a moving Dido -- make a better Gamzatti or Nikiya?

Let me hasten to add that I am a huge Morris fan and have thought on more than one occaision that he's George Balanchine's true heir, but that's for another thread.

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As long as we are casting out of Texas, I think the Kilgore Rangerettes (a drill team) really should do the Kingdom of the Shades.And there should be a debutante in full debutante kit somewhere in there, too. Also there should be a mariachi band. I have been thinking about Texas this week--if it is this hot here in New York City, why not be in Austin? They do hot sooooo much better. Oh, let's not forget Anne Richards. She would be an excellent something. Shrub and the Oil Bidness guys we can save for the Nutcracker...

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