1/24/03 NYCB's performance and history?
Posted 25 January 2003 - 06:19 AM
I know it came from "On Your Toes"... Can someone tell me a little history of "On Your Toes"? I know it's a Rodgers and Hammerstein production...why did I think it was Jerome Robbins?
Next: Someone please tell me what "Davidsbundlertanze" means - David's dream dances? Many people seemed to like this piece...I did not, generally speaking. Right now, I'm most interested in its title. Seeing Kyra Nichols was a real treat for us, though, I must add.
Posted 25 January 2003 - 07:06 AM
I don't know Slaughter offhand quite as well, but I believe On Your Toes is from ca. 1938. Tamara Geva was in the original cast, and the version we see was by and large rechoreographed in '68 by Balanchine for Farrell and Arthur Mitchell. There are other ballets in the musical (one called "Princess Zenobia" which spoofs Scheherezade). On Your Toes was revived again on Broadway (with, I think, additional choreography by Peter Martins) in 1983.
Posted 25 January 2003 - 07:28 AM
Posted 25 January 2003 - 10:51 AM
Posted 25 January 2003 - 11:01 AM
Posted 25 January 2003 - 02:23 PM
On Your Toes was originally conceived as a film musical, an RKO vehicle for Astaire and Rogers. They wrote an outline and a few songs about a former vaudevillian who gets mixed up with the world of ballet and a temperamental ballerina before returning to the sweet girl he really loves. Astaire was intrigued, because he’d never worked with Rodgers & Hart, but ultimately rejected the idea because he felt that the public wouldn’t accept him in anything but a top hat, white tie and tails. (He would later change his mind, of course; Shall We Dance contains some similar plot elements, and Astaire actually plays a ballet dancer! The stage version of OYT salutes Astaire in its title song.) R&H took the idea back to Broadway, and Hart asked Balanchine to do the choreography, to which he enthusiastically agreed. Here is Nolan’s summary of the plot:
Balanchine is quoted in the book as saying that the “Slaughter” ballet was Hart’s idea. The original cast was Ray Bolger as Junior, Doris Carson as Frankie, Luella Gear as Peggy, Monty Wooley, in his acting debut, as Sergei, and Tamara Geva (replacing the originally announced Marilyn Miller) as Vera. George Abbott wrote the book and directed.
Junior, son of vaudevillians Phil and Lil Dolan, forsakes his hoofer heritage and goes to Knickerbocker University to study music; there he meets and falls in love with co-ed Frankie Fayne. Their fellow student Sidney Cohn is writing a a jazz ballet, “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue;” Frankie’s friend Peggy Porterfield tries to sell it to a Russian ballet company. The prima ballerina, Vera Barnova, is attracted to Junior and wants to do the ballet (and thus snare Junior), but Sergei Alexandrovich, the head of the company, says no. Complications ensue, with Junior plunged unreadily — and ruinously — into a performance of the “La Princesse Zenobia” ballet.
Misunderstandings between Junior and Frankie follow. “Can a good man be in love with two women at the same time?” he asks Peggy. “Only if he’s very good,” she tells him. Meanwhile Vera’s other swain, ballet dancer Morrosine, is in trouble with gangsters, to whom he owes money. Peggy confronts Sergei and threatens to remove her million-dollar patronage unless “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” is performed. Junior is chosen to dance it over Morrisine, who pays a hit man to bump off “Juniorvich Dolanski” during the performance. Warned that a gangster is in the audience, the exhausted Junior has to keep on dancing till the cops arrive. Of course, true love conquers, and it all works out just fine.
During reheasals, a friend of Hart’s named Bender was much in evidence; he liked to hang around the young male dancers. He was so occupied during a reheasal when Balanchine, awaiting the overdue entrance of the Nubian slaves for the Princess Zenobia ballet, called out, “Ver de hell is de zlaves?” Hart sang out, to the tune of “There’s a Small Hotel” (the show’s best-known song),
Look behind the curtain
You can see six slaves and Bender
Bender’s on the ender
Posted 25 January 2003 - 04:02 PM
In her memoir, "Split Seconds," Tamara Geva wrote, "I doubt that anyone will dispute that 'On Your Toes' was a milestone in the history of musical comedy, changing the format, eliminating the chorus line, and incorporating dancing into the story." The 1982 revival starred Natalia Makarova until she was injured by some falling scenery. She was succeeded by Valentina Koslova. Unfortunately, the show's run coincided with Balanchine's final illness.
While we're talking history, let's not forget the history of "Square Dance," which opened the program on Junuary 24. At its premiere in 1957, there were fiddlers and a square dance caller on stage. Twenty years later, the musicians were in the pit and the caller was gone, never to reappear for NYCB, although a caller is sometimes featured in other companies' productions.
Posted 25 January 2003 - 04:45 PM
A film was done of On Your Toes, also with Zorina and Eddie Albert in the leads (Lew Christensen and Andre Eglevsky appear in the Slaughter on Tenth Avenue ballet). It sometimes pops up on TCM, but usually at around 5am. There is a snipped of the "Princess Zenobia Ballet" in the film "That's Dancing." The Slaughter on Tenth Avenue in the film of On your Toes differs than what we see in the 1968 ballet for Farrell and Mitchell. A lot less high extensions and the dancing at the end is more "Broadway." I'm also pretty sure Albert does not do the tap dancing at the end - you just see his feet then flashers to his face scanning the audience trying to find the gangster.
In the 1983 revival, there was additional choreography by Peter Martins.
Posted 25 January 2003 - 04:46 PM
I'm also glad you brought up "Square Dance" as I thought Peter Boal, in particular, was superb...but how I would have loved seeing it done with a caller and a fiddle player! I'm sorry that they don't do that anymore.
I also thank you for your details in re Valentina Kozlova... I knew she had danced in the revival but until your mentioning it, FF, no one had mentioned it. I can bet she was a show stopper.
Thank you all so much for the details...I really did find "Davidsbundlertanze" a bit obscure. If only they had included some notes in the program!! This, for me, was an example where you could really have used them.
Again, thanks to all of you... I am going to reread everyone's comments, for sure.
Posted 25 January 2003 - 05:02 PM
Posted 25 January 2003 - 05:32 PM
I saw Makarova, George De La Pena, Lara Teeter and Dina Merrill (Kitty Carlisle Hart also did Dina's role) in the 1983 revival which was a great success and ran two hundred more performances than the original 1936 production. Starr Danias, a cast member, took the lead in matinees while Makarova starred. After Makarova (who was hurt while performing at The Kennedy Center) left the broadway production, she was replaced by Galina Panova and Valentina Kozlova. I know that Starr Danias did not perform the lead while Panova starred.
My CD notes state that Balanchine's choreography for "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" and the "Princess Zenobia Ballet" was re-created by Donald Saddler for the 1983 production.
I think this is the same Donald Saddler whom I saw in the recent production of "Follies" on Broadway. He portrayed half of a famous ballroom dancing couple. They danced while their young ghosts, on stage at the same time danced (sometimes right through chairs), in a brilliant production (IMO) of "Follies".
Posted 27 January 2003 - 11:00 AM
Posted 27 January 2003 - 11:10 AM
Posted 27 January 2003 - 11:24 AM
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Posted 27 January 2003 - 11:40 AM
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