Jump to content


Lousy ballet performances


  • Please log in to reply
25 replies to this topic

#1 Estelle

Estelle

    Platinum Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,706 posts

Posted 15 August 2001 - 06:16 PM

As I explained in another thread in the "recent performances" forum, this evening I planned to attend an outdoors dance performance in Paris, but it ended as a kind of diluvian desaster. Do you have some funny memories of performances where everything went wrong- bad weather, problems with the music, mistakes on stage, etc.?

#2 BalletNut

BalletNut

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 573 posts

Posted 15 August 2001 - 09:15 PM

I'm not sure if I've posted about it before, but SFB's Stern Grove performance in summer 2000 ranks up there. San Francisco's notorious summer weather was responsible for the cancellation of Balanchine's Symphony In 3 Movements. The dancers had to wear leg warmers and sweaters during van Manen's Solo, Forsythe's The Vertiginous Thrill Of Exactitude, and Mark Morris' Sandpaper Ballet.

Smaller incidents, still worth mentioning:

In Swan Lake, the costume for the man in the pas de trois had a gaping hole in the armpit.

In Othello, one of the corps men's hats fell off and somebody else kicked it into the wings.

Dring the Agon pas de deux, some of the man's stage makeup got smeared onto the woman's tights, leaving a long, ghastly streak down the length of her leg.

All of the dancers involved shall remain anonymous. ;)

[ 08-15-2001: Message edited by: BalletNut ]

#3 sneds

sneds

    Bronze Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 260 posts

Posted 16 August 2001 - 08:28 AM

The 2001 NYCB Gala up in Saratoga Springs ranks pretty high up there too...

It had been raining hard for more than a day, and water was leaking through the roof of SPAC and dripping down the stairs. During the performance the water continued to flow in along the floor.

The rain must have gotten into the sound system because the speakers screeched with feedback twice during Harmonheliere(sp??). The screeching/feedback was painfully loud (the music is loud to begin with), and the oboeist actually got up and left after the second screech.
One can only imagine the difficulties backstage since I believe the dressing rooms are in trailers/separate building, connected by walkways.
Needless to say, not too many people hung around for the fireworks or champagne.


Other incidents at NYCB...
One of the Froman twins losing the tap on his shoe during the tap duet in the premeire of Robert LaFosse's Ellington ballet.

Kate

#4 Juliet

Juliet

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 720 posts

Posted 16 August 2001 - 09:35 AM

This is a great story, sneds, but it must have been at another gala in Saratoga.... I was there this year and it was a beautiful evening--they did Theme & Variations, Ballo della Regina, and Soirees Musicales--and the fireworks were spectacularafterward...

I think, perhaps, this was last year...it was wettish then...

I always feel so sorry for performers at the mercy of the weather.....

#5 cargill

cargill

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 645 posts

Posted 16 August 2001 - 02:46 PM

I was at the outdoor area in Washington a number of years ago, Wolf Trap, isn't it, in the middle of a horrible storm which blew up in Swan Lake and just as Marguerite Porter was starting her fouettes, the lights went out. She continued as if nothing happened, which was amazing. I was sitting near the edge wearing a jeans skirt which was drenched, just sopping wet. I was unbelievably miserable, and decided culture out of doors was not for me.
As for other mishaps, a friend who was at the first night of PAMTAGG (a mishap in itself, from the sound of it) said that one poor mans pants started to split at the crotch area very noticably. He was off stage for a brief period and when he returned had hooked them together with a very large safety pin. I guess those in the audience that saw it were choking with laughter.

#6 Kathleen O'Connell

Kathleen O'Connell

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 735 posts

Posted 16 August 2001 - 05:21 PM

I'll never forget this moment from an NYCB perfomance years ago:

One of the women's shoes came off during one of the "crowd scenes" in the first waltz of Balanchine's Vienna Waltzes (this is the one with the women in long, full, pink ballgowns and heeled slippers and the men in Hussar's uniforms). The shoe got very visibly and perilously kicked from one end of the stage to the other for what seemed like hours as the dancers swirled over it and around it. Judging from the gasps, I think everybody in State Theater was fixated on that shoe and the apparently imminent disaster of someone tripping over it, falling down, and starting a New Jersey Turnpike style chain reaction pile-up. Finally some young man from the corp bent down and swept the slipper up as he passed, held it triumphantly aloft for a moment or two, and then flung it off into the wings with a flourish to a round of applause. Disaster averted!

#7 vrsfanatic

vrsfanatic

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 671 posts

Posted 16 August 2001 - 05:35 PM

I was a young child when Mr. Balanchine did Don Q. I do not remember the year. Maybe someone can advise me of this. Image Mr. Balnachine sitting centerstage, absolutely enface upon his horse ever so elegantly. Jaquelyn Kennedy Onassis sitting beautifully first ring, center. Well, I shall say the horse had a call from nature just as the curtain was to fall, but not soon enough. As a youngster, first I was astonished to see Mr. Balanchine on a real horse no less, but then the rest was an experience I shall never forget. I call it one of my funniest moments in the theatre.

#8 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 16 August 2001 - 05:47 PM

If memory doesn't play tricks on me, I think that would be about 1969-70, when Mr. B. was appearing as Don Q a lot, and always unadvertised.

#9 sneds

sneds

    Bronze Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 260 posts

Posted 16 August 2001 - 07:28 PM

Oops...I meant the 2000 NYCb Saratoga Gala :o)

Kate

#10 liebs

liebs

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 493 posts

Posted 16 August 2001 - 07:30 PM

I remember a truly horrifying night for NYCB at the State Theatre. First, Robert Weiss ripped his Achilles tendon and Merrill Ashley finished Ballo alone and unpartnered. Later that evening in Fancy Free, a lense on one of the stage lights hanging above the stage exploded and glass fell on the stage. The dancer playing the bartender came out from behind the bar and cleaned most of it up. It was one of those nights when the dancers must have been happy to escape with their lives.

#11 Mme. Hermine

Mme. Hermine

    Emeralds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,700 posts

Posted 17 August 2001 - 08:05 AM

i remember a performance of ruth page's 'nutcracker' in which at the beginning of the coda, the sugar plum cavalier fell down in the middle of the stage, apparently having hurt something, crawled off the stage, leaving the sugar plum to finish the coda alone. in the finale, in which she is partnered, the soloist dancing 'spanish' (who was her other partner) finished the performance with her. i recall a performance of 'etudes' at ballet theatre in which the ballerina fell on her back and one of the men fell on top of her, face to face (this happened on tour, not in new york).
and not ballet but opera: a couple of years ago, in a performance of 'manon' at the met, there was evidently a dog on stage and at the moment when the diva began her aria the dog started to howl! :o

[ 08-17-2001: Message edited by: Mme. Hermine ]

#12 felursus

felursus

    Bronze Circle

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 250 posts

Posted 19 August 2001 - 12:20 AM

That horse in Don Q made a habit of doing his business on stage. Later on they got smart and put on someone with a dustpan and broom.

I remember once in Giselle, Jennifer Penney's skirt was ripped (Act II), and it kept unravelling. Everyone in the audience (and onstage) were just waiting for the inevitable disaster to strike. At some point when she was offstage someone cut it - leaving her with a NYCB-style short tutu.

Another time Giselle's shroud wound up downstage center. How to get it off? The wili's were all kneeling facing the audience. The center girl leaned over and picked up the shroud, bundled it up, and quite quietly passed it to the next girl, who then passed it to the girl nearest the wings. She managed to toss it off.

Then there was the occasion Merle Park showed up on stage in Nutcracker (beginning of Act II) in one leg warmer. To make matters worse, it was bright orange! I think it was the titters in the audience that alerted her. There was an unchoreographed exit and rapid re-entrance.

When I was ASM for the Nureyev and Friends performances at the Colisseum. one night one of the flymen had to answer an urgent call of nature and thus got his cues mixed up. Instead off taking out the white drapery in the "country" scene, he put in the chandelier. Nureyev, one could see, was mad as hell. Fonteyn was as cool as a cucumber - she merely held the drapery out of the way until it finally was taken out.

There are always disasters that the audience may/may not realise are happening. Such was the case when Ann Jenner came down with appendicitis during Sleeping Beauty. When Aurora was carried out to be put to bed, she was carried out to an ambulance. There was a quick change of cast. In fact, even that was a precarious thing, because the substitute dancer, Brenda Last had 1) never danced in that production 2) had just started back in class after being out with a foot injury 3) hadn't done any pointe work since returning to class 4) was around only because she was in the audience 5) as she was a member of the 2nd company they didn't have a stock of her shoes at Covent Garden 6) of course she had never had a costume fitting for that production 7) as she had come to the theater to be in the audience she wasn't warmed up. Somehow all these issues were resolved in the space of an extra-long interval. We all got lots of overtime that evening.

#13 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 19 August 2001 - 06:52 AM

A similar skirt disaster happened with David Wall and Lynn Seymour in Mayerling during the bedroom pas de deux. A bit raveled off, then more and more and more! Wall tried to tear the fabric off, but he only succeeded in loosening more of it. pretty soon, they stopped trying to dance with one another, and started dancing with the fabric! One commentator said, "They looked like two piles of rags possessed by the Devil!" :o

#14 liebs

liebs

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 493 posts

Posted 19 August 2001 - 02:31 PM

Then there was the "Live from Lincoln Center" telecast where Kevin McKenzie, partnering Makarova, forgot to take off his leg warmers in the final act of "Romeo and Juliet." He couldn't leave the stage, so "he died with his boots on."

#15 BalletNut

BalletNut

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 573 posts

Posted 19 August 2001 - 10:10 PM

Here's one more I forgot: On the Kirov In London Video, Makar Vasiev starts having some kind of problem with his shoe during the coda of the Don Q pas, and right before he begins the turning leaps he bends over, rips it off, and tosses it onto the side of the stage before continuing. As he exits, he reaches over and snatches the shoe up on his way out. He does the turns on his shoeless foot.

[ 08-19-2001: Message edited by: BalletNut ]


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):