Lousy ballet performances
Posted 20 August 2001 - 01:21 AM
This was the occasion of my one memorable encounter with Ross Stretton. He was sitting next to me in the wings, and as we both laughed helplessly, he grabbed my arm so hard that I was black and blue for a month afterward.
Posted 20 August 2001 - 04:25 AM
What is normally a highly dramatical scene (Armands father arrives to convince Marguerite to give up his son) failed a bit this impression in that performance...
Posted 20 August 2001 - 06:41 PM
Act III. The floor they were laying on swirled with the thick fog from the machines and the corp was buried in this. They were suppose to rise as the curtain did but the curtain only rose about 3 or 4 feet and got stuck. There was a delay, the music started again but the curtain went neither up nor down. The music stopped and finally one of the black swans lifted her head from the fog and looked around as if to say "Do something!" They finally got the curtain to lower and, after a few minutes, got it to work correctly. I can't say it made for a terrible performance but I've alway felt sorry for those dancers breathing that fog. I wonder if it's hard to breathe in and if it's toxic?
Posted 20 August 2001 - 07:07 PM
[ 08-20-2001: Message edited by: Mel Johnson ]
Posted 20 August 2001 - 08:05 PM
Then there's the story of Markova as Giselle. She had to go down a trap door at the end of Act II. The elevator went down and up and down and up....until the curtain, mercifully, fell.
There was an occasion I witnessed when, just before the start of a Royal Ballet performance of Sleeping Beauty at the Met, someone accidentally pushed the curtain button. It rose to reveal dancers draped over the thrones, lying on the floor, stretching, or practicing assorted steps. Most of them reacted quickly and jumped up and ran off before the curtain could be lowered again. The audience had a good laugh.
Posted 21 August 2001 - 04:20 PM
Posted 02 September 2001 - 07:08 PM
On another occasion, the curtain came down to within a couple of feet of the stage, about half a minute before the end of "Scherzo a la Russe"; we could see that most of the dancers continued to dance, but a few in back stopped momentarily.
NYCB never was strong on handling props, so that we weren't suprised when the girl dancing the trumpet solo in "Stars and Stripes" did it with an "invsible" one; but they were extremely adept at getting stray objects, usually a boy's slipper, into the wings. Usually two kicks were sufficient, nobody missing a step, much less bending over to pick it up, all to giggles and a whisper of applause from the audience.
Other minor glitches would occur, like two demis turning too close to each other so that outstretched hands would hit with a resounding slap and a gasp from the dancers, but a major one, like a bad fall, forcing the dancer to hobble off, sometimes provoked nervous giggles which spread around the stage and then faded. And there was one tall soloist I won't name in public who didn't seem to require anything at all to inspire her giggles, and once she started...
But I missed by one day an instructive mishap. In a short ballet, a dancer fell twice and nearly knocked someone else down, which wouldn't have been so awful if it hadn't been her professional debut! Nerves, we supposed. The night I went, her alternate was listed in the program but she was cast again instead, and danced superbly, if not quite justifying the wild enthusiasm of the regulars seated around me, I thought. Asking for explanation, I learned of the bad debut the night before. There was nothing wrong with her alternate. The management was not going to let that dancer stew for two days about an inauspicious beginning to what turned out to be an admirable and quite long career with NYCB, but put her right back out there to do what they knew she could do. It was one of those times I felt the depth and the wisdom of Mr. B's little empire.
Posted 03 September 2001 - 09:28 AM
Posted 03 September 2001 - 10:24 AM
Posted 03 September 2001 - 03:23 PM
Andrei: Is this a tradition at the Kirov? I remember N. Makarova in one of her first Swan's in the West doing this with the fouettes (in Chicago). She fell after about eight, went downstage to the conductor and asked him to begin again. She then eeked out the thirty-two to thunderous applause (much more than if she had done them outright). Not a bad stage trick.
Posted 13 September 2001 - 02:31 PM
In the pop-art 'Paradise Lost' which Petit made for Fonteyn and Nureyev in the 1960's, the women wore strange little white PVC costumes. Fonteyn had to come up through a trapdoor; getting to the lifts understage at the ROH could be a grubby experience in those days (I saw for myself when on a tour backstage with a school party). On one night it was reported that when Fonteyn appeared on stage Eve was not exactly whiter than white!
One of my best experiences of a similar happening was playing the cello in an orchestral concert which included the Grieg piano concerto. The soloist was a late replacement, and must have hurriedly chosen a dress that she had last worn before losing weight. During the last movement, her energetic actions made one of the shoulder straps fall - so she was gamely trying to incorporate enough of the right kind of arm movement into her playing to get the strap back to its right place. As the platform was a bit crowded I had this in full view, and found my attention divided between that little scene, the music, the conductor, and the other cellist with whom I was sharing the desk and whom I had just met, - and eventually married!
[ 09-13-2001: Message edited by: Richard Jones ]
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