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Mel Johnson

Worst idea for a new ballet

59 posts in this topic

How about a series of ballets based on a Major Network's sitcoms? ABC danced by ABT or something like that. (There is ABT season planned out right there!)

I can just see it: Regis Philbin energetically danced by some major danseur, and instead of his "Final Answer", he could do variations on a set of steps. And the person in the Hot Seat could be a beautiful ballerina, who could then dance a PDD with Regis. And the corps--- all those who do the fastest fingers competition. Except for fastest fingers, they could do a fastest feet one. I think there would also be room for dramatic interludes, maybe a spotlight coming up on the ballerina's family members, perhaps even a husband, who at the end could viciously fight Regis over the ballerina. And stunning pyrotechnics and theatre tricks could be incorporated. Who has even included an 'Ask the AUdience' in a ballet? Or a Phone a Friend?

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Oh Allegro- sadly, you've sparked my interest! How about a "Friends" ballet? It could start out with the theme song and the whole corps would clap with the music. There would be many romantic pas de deuxs with Ross and Rachel and following every romantic one a pas de deux where it is very clear that Ross is screaming "WE WERE ON A BREAK!" Joey and Chandler would have several male pas de deuxs to illustrate their misfit friendship.

And then when (like television) ballet cannot successfully imitate sitcoms any longer... we can introduce "Reality Ballet." I can see it now... "Survivor: the ballet!" You can fill in the blanks as you want.

Scottie

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What about a ballet about the frustration we feel when we get telemarketing calls from credit card companies during dinner?

:D

Or maybe a ballet entitled "Waiting for the Cable Guy"...

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"Survivor, the Ballet" has piqued my interest. The audience could write in the challenges: 32 double fouettes in shoes that don't belong to the dancer and have no ribbons or elastic (I'll allow the drawstring to be intact), etc. There could also be emotional challenges involving non-renewal of contracts, loss of roles, being forced to do a role for which the dancer is under rehearsed - with an important critic in the audience, of course, etc. :D

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I forgot to add the part about them voting each other off - oh, and the "tribes": anyone got some creative ballet-oriented tribal names? The reward, instead of being a million dollars, is a life-time, secure principal contract with the company of choice. :D

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I'd like to see a ballet based on Miss Cleo, the psychic who advertises on TV.

[ 08-11-2001: Message edited by: Dale ]

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Jane Simpson and Mary Cargill mentioned Schubert's song cycle "Der Winterreise". Like a lot of people who studied voice I learned it both as a school exercise and for performance.

It does seem that a ballet to the entire cycle it would be dreadful, but a couple of the songs might work. "Der Doppelganger", for example--it is from a different cycle, but could be done like a soft-shoe, but on pointe. With a follow spot, of course--"Me and My Shadow" for Lincoln Center.

What would be intriguing is a ballet done to a good recording of the John Cage masterpiece 4'33".

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...to the john cage masterpiece 4:33...now, would the dancers come out on stage to dance, would you actually choreography movement, or would just the stage empty of dancers be sufficent enough?

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Manhattnik--

Do you know what recording Taylor used?

There are a lot of great ones:

--Martha Argerich (even with her usual quota of wrong notes)

--Evgeny Kissin (a bit too classical for some)

--Stephen Drury (thought by many to be the best recording so far)

Julip--

I think the choreographer would have to make those decisions, depending on how he or she is inspired by the work--and, possibly, by the pianist.

[ 08-11-2001: Message edited by: Ed Waffle ]

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About 4:33-- it was first performed by David Tudor, who came out and sat at the piano. And you could watch him, and think about how long the time seemed, or how short.

When the Cunningham company uses the score (The Merce Cunnngham Dance Company) someone is in the pit with it, at the piano as I recall. If there is no piano, I don't know where the musician sits, but there is a musician. Then they dance for the length of the piece.

This might seem like the Emperor's New Clothes, but it does indeed make one think about the nature of time, and our perception of it.

[ 08-11-2001: Message edited by: Nanatchka ]

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And I don't think Taylor used 4'33", I think he just stood there in silence for about five minutes. (Didn't Anatole Chujoy devote three whole column inches of blank space in Dance News to a review of this piece?) Now to make it a ballet, he would stand in 5th position!

Come on, gang, there are a lot more better fershtoonkener ideas for truly execrable ballets before we exhaust August, and this topic! We're actually verging on actual critical thought, and we can't have that in the Silly Season!

As to music visualization ballets: how about an abstract ballet set to Brahms' 2nd Symphony with the ballerina part cued to the second oboe?

[ 08-14-2001: Message edited by: Mel Johnson ]

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Again, off topic, but there was a review of 4'33" in the Times, where the reviewer wrote that he was very much looking forward to a full length work by the same composer.

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I must agree with an earlier post... Gone With the Wind has got to be the silliest idea... and of course, it is being done by a company who seems to care more about theatre then ballet.. *sighs* I may go see it just to see how scarlett will manage fouettes in a hoop dress!! Haha!!

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Okay, Mel, since I have perhaps verged on critical thought, I repent by offering: Waiting for the Cable Guy, a Ballet in about 43 Acts.

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NOW you're talking! I once submitted an idea for a ballet based on Life of the Slime Mold, but somebody told me it had been done.

Here's a REALLY lousy idea:

There's this fella, see, and he's gonna hafta get married to some gal his mom (a real pushy mom) has picked for him, and he's out hunting with the boys to take his mind off his troubles, and all of a sudden he sees this SWAN turn into a REAL WOMAN!...

What's that? It's been done? Never mind. :D

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how about "As I Lay Dying" (although put into the hands of Bill T. Jones it might be interesting)

...or, just for fun, "Tropic of Cancer" ;)

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Haha! Very true Mel... The story of swan lake is pretty out there when you think about it... But the music... ahhh.

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Well, how about a series of "made for the ballet" ballets - just like the "made for TV" stories we see all the time - and based on a "true story", of course. Then we could do "Headline News" ballets - ones that depict the headlines fresh off your morning or evening newspaper. Fitting for either category could be something like: "The Trial of OJ". There would be lots of bit parts for an entire company. The ensemble gets to play the jury (remember they were sequestered and thus very, very frustrated), the spectators, the corps of reporters and the public eagerly lapping up each juicy bit. Solo roles for OJ, the ghost of Nichole, the defense team (each needs a star turn), the prosecution team, and the judge. Perhaps this ballet could include audience participation: just like the play "Edwin Drood" the ballet could pause at the point where the jury has to make it's decision and the audience gets to pick the ending. Thus each night there could be a different ending: innocent, guilty, innocent by reasons of insanity, hung jury, and a few more creative, hypothetical endings.

Is this horrible enough for you? I won't inflict a John Cage "Score" on you: the stage manager would quit after filing a suit for harrassment (I don't know of any full-length ballet to a Cage score). A few minutes is all the SM would be able to tolerate. Now Philip Glass is certainly a possibility! Perhaps mixed-media would also work. Any suggestions for choreographer? If we can pick one no longer with us, MacMillan might do a credible job. Any ideas for casting?? :D

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Originally posted by Mel Johnson:

And I don't think Taylor used 4'33", I think he just stood there in silence for about five minutes.  (Didn't Anatole Chujoy devote three whole column inches of blank space in Dance News to a review of this piece?)

I'm not sure, but I think it was mentioned in De Mille's biography of Martha Graham (but I think the blank review was by Louis Horst).

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By Jove, Estelle, you're right! Thanks for the memory jog! :D Chujoy and P.W.(Bill) Manchester were the editors of the late, lamented journal, but Horst wrote a lot of the modern and pre-classic reviews.

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a little OT, but i can't help thinking of alexander woolcott's review of a play called "Wham!" which read in its entirety: "Ouch!"

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Peter and I finished the solo to Koto music today, but as we began rehearsal I looked at him and said, "I have a vision."

"What's that?"

"Mariachi band!"

Why not, I ask. If we can do a dance to classical Japanese Koto music, how about a nice mariachi band, preferably playing classical Japanese Koto music.

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