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PAMTGG

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I was reading a Balanchine book the other day, and saw this ballet mentioned. It really stands for "Pan Am Makes The Going Good." It piqued my interest, and I wondered if anyone on this very knowledgeable board would have seen this, or knows anything about it. Anyone?

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I didn't see it, but my understanding is that it's one of Balanchine's few genuine turkeys, done in the early seventies during his post-Farrell doldrums. I believe he choreographed it to the commercial's music.

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It stood for Pan Am Makes the Going Great, and was called "Pamtuhguhguh" by some. It was done in June of 1971, two years after Suzanne went into Belgian exile. It featured a very large cast, which included Karin von Aroldingen, Kay Mazzo, and Victor Castelli. The music was by Roger Kellaway, based on the advertising jingle by Stan Applebaum and Sid Woloshin. There were elaborate costumes by Irene Sharaff which included a lot of plastic, and many pieces of luggage were involved. I saw the ballet but don't remember any specifics. I just recall a general feeling of confusion and audience restiveness. It was probably the single worst thing Mr. B ever did. But I treasure the experience of having seen it, sort of like the theatergoers who saw the legendary Broadway flop "Moose Murders."

A sidelight: In November of 2000, the New York Times ran an obituary headlined, "Sidney E. Woloshin, 72, Writer of Ad Jingles." It mentioned

"P.A.M.T.G.G.," but got a number of things wrong, including the company which performed it. (They said American Ballet Theatre instead of NYCB.) So I sent an email to the obituary page and the obit writer called up to thank me. She said she was curious about the music because a friend of hers, Roger Kellaway, had written it. I remembered it as jazzy. Then we got into a discussion about whether to put periods after the letters in the title in her correction the next day. I advised against it, citing "Repertory in Review," by Nancy Reynolds, as my authority. The correction ran without periods, PAMTGG.

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"Moose Murders" is a good title. I wonder what it could have been about.

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Thanks...It has satisfied my curiosity much more... and as you FarrellFan said, yes, I think I would have liked to see a horrible ballet by Balanchine. And although it was horrible, perhaps, it still had good dancers in it.

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A friend of mine was at the first performance, and swears that one of the male dancer's pants began to split at the crotch, and that, after a quick exit, he returned with a large safety pin holding the seam together.

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PAMTGG perenially raises its ugly head here as a chat topic, much as "why can't guys wear leotards outside their tights?" does on alt.arts.ballet. I think the decades have helped burnish its sheen as a legendary stinker (so to speak) to the point where many have a morbid curiosity about just how bad Balanchine could be when visited by the Muse of Bad Taste. I know I saw it when I was a kid -- blissfully, I remember just about nothing.

I think we should all chip in and start a "Bring Back PAMTGG" fund. Heck, all or most of the principals are still around (although some may not wish to admit it!). Who knows, maybe the current generation will hail it as an unsung masterpiece -- perhaps Balanchine anticipating Forsyth? I guess that's one disadvantage ballet has over most other arts. If a ballet doesn't find favor when it's premiered, subsequent generations are deprived of the opportunity to "discover" it. You can't find an old ballet hidden in an attic for 100 years! I suppose with modern technology that's not quite true, but still true enough.

By the way, a search of the Dance Research Collection's online catalog shows six hits for "PAMTGG," but, alas, no video or film!

"Well, Mr. Martins, there's good news and bad news. The good news is all these Internet ballet fans have donated a million dollars to pay for a revival of a lost Balanchine work. The bad news is that it's PAMTGG."

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Another pronounciation I heard a few years after the premier was "pam-tag". The luggage, incidentally, was transparent lucite or similar plastic, mostly stacked artfully in a couple of places on stage; the only movement I can recall from the performance(s) I saw at the Ravinia Festival (the Chicago Symphony's summer season in suburban Highland Park north of the city) was one where most of the big cast supported on outstretched arms a few soloists "flying" horizontally across the stage along gently rising and falling trajectories. (The picture in "Repertory in Review" I can't place, nor do I remember those costumes, for what it's worth.) I also remember thinking the music wasn't much, and that may be why it didn't elicit much from Balanchine. I suppose he chose it out of his concern to have a varied repertory.

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I clearly remember NOT seeing PAMTGG and was quite annoyed that I missed it. I can't recall why I didn't see it (not on our subscription possibly) but I remember that even after the bad reviews I thought it would have been interesting and was disapointed in that it was so quicky killed. I also don't believe it was anywhere nearly as bad as most people think, just that it was a very very rare mediocre Balanchine, which is probably on a par with possibly above average work by any other choreographer! wink.gif I also recall seeing photos of it with a group of stewerdesses...ooopppss.... flight attendents on a wide staircase with very short skirts and pilot like hats. I wonder if the costumes and sceneray still exist somewhere?

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