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where is the heartbeat in the Balanchine legacy?


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#46 Farrell Fan

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Posted 09 June 2002 - 08:14 AM

My favorite letter in the group was that of Laura Segal. (Isn't she a critic?) I was more than a little surprised that the first three letters, favorable to NYCB, are from people with connections to it. The fourth letter is also pro-NYCB, making the final tally 4-3. But that's from someone who advises Homans to watch the company in rehearsal. That would indicate that the writer is at least a member of the NYCB Guild. Not that there's anything wrong with that -- so am I. All the letters come down firmly on one side or the other. My letter to the Times said the Homans article was overstated but had good points and that the heartbeat of the Balanchine legacy could be found in the Suzanne Farrell Ballet. Since I've sent them quite a few letters in the past on NYCB and SF, some of which they've printed, I didn't expect them to this time.

#47 Hal

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Posted 02 June 2002 - 01:09 PM

What bothered me the most about the aritcle was its timing. How ungenerous and unseemly is it to post such a diatribe against Martins while he is sponsoring the generation of so many new ballets with the Diamond project and NY Choreographic Institute. With the limited space devoted to dance it seems rather hateful to spend so much on a diatribe about the past when Martins is clearly looking ahead. I must blame the editors more than Hommans for this unseemly negativism in the midst of such a wonderful creative burst that is ongoing at NYCB. The space would better be devoted to articles about the Diamond project and the NY Choreographi Institute at this time. Post that diatribe in August or Spetember when a lot less dance is in town and the space is less needed for discussing what is hapenning now. I really find it upsetting that there were something like 5 new ballets presented and a number of Diamond project revivals taking place in the weeks preceeding the article that the most important thing she had to discuss was how terrible NYCB is with Martins at the helm. Even if I completely agreed with eveyrthing she said (which I don't) it was an inappropriate, carping, ungenerous diatribe that should not have been published at this time. What a waste of space. :)

#48 Hal

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Posted 10 June 2002 - 01:56 PM

Peter Martins, Kay Mezzo, Katrina Killian, Darci Kistler, Susan Pillare, Suki Schorer, Sheryl Ware, Garielle Whittle, Peter Frame, Kyra Nichols, Olga Kostritzky, Andrei Kramarevsky, Antonina Tumkovsky are the faculty members at SAB that dated to Balanchines time. In addition I know that Merril Ashley was very involved in the current workshop teaching 3 casts of Ballo della Regina. The NYCB staff includes: Ballet Master in Chief: Peter Martins Ballet Mistress: Rosemary Dunleavy Assistant Ballet Masters: Victor Castelli, Jean-Pierre Frohlich, Lisa Jackson, Russell Kaiser, Sara Leland, Christine Redpath, Susan Hendl* (*guest) Assistant to the Ballet Master in Chief: Sean Lavery Teaching Associate: Merrill Ashley Children's Ballet Mistress: Garielle Whittle all dating to Balanchines time. So the notion that the folks dating to Balanchines time are no longer at work in the company or school is pure and simple HOGWASH!!! And the above doesn't even include the folks such as Karen Von Aroldingen who work for the Balanchine Trust and I would guess are also involved.

The main person that I would have liked to see as an active participant in the company and the school is of course Suzanne Farrell. The fact that she is missing is a major loss and maybe we should blame that on PM. So if the topic is "Isnt it awful that SF is no longer working with the school and company" I would agree. But to berate PM for the lack of Russians and prior stars in working with the company is just garbage.

#49 bobbi

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Posted 26 May 2002 - 04:08 PM

What I took away from today's article was the detrimental effect of the break in coaching ballets at NYCB by Balanchine-era dancers.

In fact, one of the most satisfying "revivals" of late for me was the Liebeslieder Waltzes, which I understand was coached very intensely by some of the Balanchine-era principals who danced it. And what a difference!! The little nuances that are so vital to that (and any ballet) were there.

As a matter of fact, at Saturday matinee's Cortege Hongrois, while watching the ballet, I remembered what Patty McBride said Balanchine told her. He used the image of "begging for money" for one of her hand movements during her solo variation while turning on pointe. Although Jeny Ringer was lovely, I so missed that one little detail. It's just lost now -- as so many, many other little details are. And don't get me started on details lost in The Four Temperments!!

That being said though, I only find "boring" performances by those dancers at NYCB today who -- because they are not coached -- do not go out of their way to find out how the ballets should look. So, yes, it would be ideal and wonderful to have Balanchine-era dancers coach today's dancers. But it's not going to happen. However, those enterprising dancers can find on tape and through interviews some sense of what the ballets should look like. But I agree with Ms. Homans that the break in the human chain is very real at NYCB and very sad.

What is that saying, "it's all in the details." How true for ballet.

#50 bobbi

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Posted 27 May 2002 - 07:45 AM

In reply to BW's question as to why does it have to be that former NYCB dancers can't be invited back to coach, I can only surmise that petty quarrels and jealousies -- as opposed to major disagreements in interpreting Balanchine style (Ari's theory) -- are the main culprit. Believe me, BW, I really want to see these magnificent ballets coached. But it appears -- just about twenty years after Balanchine's death -- that personality and turfdom have won over preserving great art.

It would make an interesting new thread to ask all of those who have posted to think about what little nuances in both the Balanchine and Robbins rep have disappeared since April 30, 1983 -- you know, the little details that just appealed to you and you looked for in performances. My bet is that each poster could come up with at least five or ten. So add them up and, yes: Houston, we have a problem!


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